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First Annual W2i Digital Communities Best Practices Awards PowerPoint Presentation
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First Annual W2i Digital Communities Best Practices Awards Nominee Project Title Project Lead: John Richo Date: 09/09/05 Organization: Culver City Redevelopment Agency Country: USA Email: Web site: Background Population

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First Annual W2i Digital Communities Best Practices Awards

Nominee Project Title

Project Lead: John Richo Date: 09/09/05

Organization: Culver City Redevelopment Agency Country: USA

Email: Web

  • Population
  • 39,119 (2002 estimate)
  • Geographic
  • Strategically located at the intersection of the 405 (San Diego) and 10 (Santa Monica) freeways, the City of Culver City is located 15 minutes north of Los Angeles International Airport, 15 minutes east of the Marina del Rey/Pacific Ocean, 20 minutes southeast of Santa Monica, 15 minutes south of Beverly Hills and 20 minutes west of Downtown Los Angeles.
  • Economic
  • Culver City ranks seventh of all California cities in total payroll and vendor expenditures in the entertainment industry. The industry’s per capita expenditure is $5,700 per person in Culver City, a number exceeded by only three other cities nationwide. Culver City’s average household retail sales of $45,000 is 2.5 times greater than the Los Angeles County average of $17,734, indicating that many non-residents are traveling to Culver City to shop.
  • Regulatory
  • Community
  • Culver City is unique among cities of it’s size. The citizens are proud to have their own Fire and Police departments, as well as their own public Transportation department, which operates regionally. The City’s motto, “The Heart of Screenland”, reflects it’s historical past as the cradle of the movie industry. Today it is the home of Sony Pictures, NFL Network, and many other media companies.
  • IT Readiness
  • Culver City’s Information Technology Department has won the MISAC, (Municipal Information Systems Association of California), for Excellence in three of the last four years. The department itself is the result of heavy spending, and staff upgrading that the city invested in as it’s response to Y2K. As part of a redevelopment effort that began in the early nineties, the city connected all of it’s buildings with fiber. As a result, the IT Department has a solid “wired” network infrastructure.
project history
Project History
  • Project History:
  • The project was initiated by an idea proposed by an IT staff to provide free internet access in our downtown area that is undergoing extensive redevelopment. Running five blocks along Culver City Boulevard, Town Plaza is the hub of a vibrant new downtown that attracts tourists, film industry workers, shoppers, and business people for theater, shopping, dining, and people-watching. In seeking to differentiate the city from neighboring areas and attract new business, the Culver City Redevelopment Agency and city IT department teamed to investigate the feasibility of bringing Wi-Fi Internet access to Town Plaza. The project was “fast tracked”, and did not encounter any process roadblocks as the Redevelopment Agency was/is interested in any means for revitalization of this important area of the city. WiFi has been operational in Town Plaza since September, 2004. The project is also considered as a pilot for possible deployment city-wide.
mission objectives
Mission statement:

To provide free wireless internet access in the Town Plaza area of downtown Culver City.

Project Objectives:

Deploy a free wireless hotspot downtown to encourage foot traffic, dwell time, and provide convenient Internet access for citizens, shoppers, business workers, and visitors.

Mission & Objectives
possible solutions
Possible Solutions
  • Available alternatives:

Our choice was between point to point technology, and mesh to offer the public free Internet access in Town Plaza.

  • Chosen alternative

We choose mesh technology primarily due to its self healing feature which reduces our maintenance, and provides greater reliability.

business model
Business Model
  • The primary stakeholders of this project were/are the Redevelopment Agency, (funding and marketing), Information Technology Department, (technological expertise), and the Downtown Business Association, (marketing).
  • Targeted users:
    • Current – Our target audience is citizens, shoppers, diners, business workers and visitors to the Town Plaza downtown area.
    • Future – As redevelopment of the downtown area continues our coverage area will double. Redevelopment will also more than double our users. We also consider this project to be a pilot for possible roll-out of free WiFi access across the entire city.
  • Partnerships:
  • In order to provide wireless coverage for the area it was necessary to install antennas on several commercial privately owned buildings. In this sense there is a partnership between city government, and private business.
project economics
Project Economics
  • Cost structure:

Our initial investment was $20K for WiFi equipment, and an additional $1.5K for site preparation. Annual maintenance is $6K, with an additional $1.5K set aside for contingencies.

  • Investment Sources/ Funding Sources

The Culver City Redevelopment Agency provides the funding for this project.

  • Revenue Source/ Return on Investment

The project is not designed to generate revenue for the Agency. It is a value added proposition for Town Plaza, to make it more attractive to visitors, and current and future businesses.

  • Current applications
  • A the present time our network’s intended use is for Internet access, and e-mail.
  • Future/ Potential applications
  • We are considering expanding the network for Public safety, and Emergency Operations.

When we first saw the Firetide solution, we set up a mesh network in our conference room in about five minutes. It worked flawlessly. What sold us on Firetide was its mesh architecture and self-healing capabilities, Other alternatives that offered the reach we needed were line-of-sight solutions. If one went down, it couldn't automatically re-route. The other solutions required extra equipment and were difficult to manage. The system integrator we chose, Wireless Hotspot, was also great to work with. Together with Firetide, they provided an easy-to-use solution that exactly matched our needs.

  • The new Town Plaza Wi-Fi network covers a perimeter that includes Trader Joe's, located at Culver Boulevard and Ince Street, and the border of the Sony Pictures campus at Washington Boulevard and Hughes Avenue, five blocks west. Shoppers, workers, and visitors have wireless coverage in the outdoor areas of the downtown business district, including the Town Plaza for outdoor performances and gatherings, the Ivy Substation & Media Park, Culver Hotel, and outdoor dining areas along Culver and Washington Boulevard.
  • Timeline: past, current & future:
  • Concept explored with IT and Redevelopment (July 2003)
  • Staff researched other City WIFI projects (September 2003)
  • Department approval for project concept (April 2004)
  • Concept presented to Agency (May 2004)
    • Additional research requested by Agency regarding marketing and expansion of coverage area
  • Project approved by Agency (June 2004)
  • Project launch (September 2004)
  • Equipment location changed due to uncooperative business owner (October 2004)
  • New location chosen and equipment moved (October 2004)
  • Additional project funds authorized by Agency for extending maintenance and warranty contract (January 2005)
  • Sustainability and Scalability of the project:
  • The components of our network require minimal maintenance, and funding is in place for maintenance. The network is easily scalable to increase range, and will be scaled to fit the Town Plaza – downtown area as redevelopment moves forward.
impact analysis
Impact Analysis
  • Actual impact
  • Usage
    • Currently 2000 user accounts
    • On average 9.5 users on the WIFI network per hour during business hours
  • Media Recognition of Culver City– Published in over 20 websites
  • Commendation by California Assembly
  • Info World 100 Award for Smart Use of Technology
  • City Council has expressed interest in expanding to other sites in city
  • Positive community and business response. Businesses report an increase in dwell time, and seem pleased with results.
    • “Definitely a plus for Downtown. I use the WIFI as a conversation piece when bragging about Downtown Culver City.” Downtown Business Owner
  • Impact compared to original goals
  • The goal of the project was to add value to our Town Plaza area by providing free Internet access. Usage of the network, and comments by both businesses, and users indicate that we have met our goal.
lessons learned next steps
Lessons Learned & Next Steps
  • Expect additional costs.
  • Marketing is key.
  • Location of project implementation is critical.
  • Be careful which businesses you ask to house equipment.
  • Working with the local media is essential.
  • Working with technology vendors can provide positive marketing for the city.
  • Interdepartmental cooperation and buy in to the project and its goals are critical.