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    Westminster plots the wireless city


    Westminster City Council to link network of hotspots

    The Council is set to revolutionise the way it does business through the use of  wireless technology. A pilot in Soho will lead to Westminster becoming a place where businesses and residents can benefit from leading-edge technology, delivering a new standard of service across the City. From Soho, the council plans to extend the wireless scheme to create wireless ‘hotspots’ across Westminster, and then link these to form a City-wide network.

    The pilot currently allows CCTV cameras and noise monitoring equipment to be operated over a wireless network, meaning that the system is flexible enough to respond to new outbreaks of criminal activity and new cameras and equipment can be installed at extremely short notice and very low cost – but the potential of the project goes much further. Already, the pilot allows council officers to link to the council’s network from the street, meaning that they can resolve problems and access information immediately. The technology could soon be applied to the entire range of council services, at a fraction of the  sual cost and offering the most flexible public services of any local authority.

    The pilot scheme in Soho is being supported by a group of global leaders in the field of information technology, including Intel, Cisco Systems and Telindus. These firms are lending their latest technology to the project and helping facilitate The Wireless City. Intel has worked closely with the Council in an advisory capacity on the definition, development and roll-out of this pioneering initiative.

    Cllr Simon Milton, Leader of Westminster Council, said: “The concept of the Wireless City is potentially one of the most exciting developments in Westminster’s history. It will allow us to offer opportunity to our residents through community education schemes on our housing estates and integrated social service provision across the city. We will be better able to reduce the threat and the fear of crime through a flexible approach to community safety, cleansing and CCTV – reacting to events and developments as they happen. It will also help us maintain low taxes through the savings that the scheme can offer.

    “The pilot scheme is already delivering benefits to the Council and the police in our  fight against drug crime in central London. Arrests have already been made. As we continue to prove the scheme and roll it out to communities across the City we can share real-time information with all our officers, with other public service providers and with our residents and businesses. Westminster is set to become a community united by cutting edge technology and sharing in the benefits of progress.”

    Andrew Allison, Director of Mobility, Intel UK and Ireland, commented: “Intel is delighted to have been involved from the start in this ambitious project to pioneer the adoption of mobile technology to create one of the world’s most advanced wireless cities. With the launch of Intel Centrino mobile technology last year, Intel has been instrumental in the acceleration of hotspot deployment across the world, creating great freedom and flexibility for business people to keep in touch with customers without having to be in the office. By sharing this business and technology expertise with the council, we have helped Westminster define the initiative, speed its implementation and maximise return on investment.  We are very excited by the vision of Westminster; it’s a vision of e-government at its best.”

    Simon Culmer, operation director for Public Sector, Cisco Systems UK & Ireland, said: “Cisco was delighted to have an opportunity to collaborate with Westminster City Council on this project and our joint efforts have shown the potential of what secure wireless technology can deliver. This work has provided the foundation for a very exciting project that has fundamental implications for public service delivery and city security for Westminster, and more broadly across London. We look forward to working closely with Westminster City Council to help fully realise this potential over the coming months.”

    Mark Bouldin, Telindus Surveillance Solutions Manager, said:
    “Telindus consistently examines how leading-edge technology can improve efficiencies for our customers’ businesses. The advantage of having CCTV cameras on a wireless network is the ease of deployment. They can be installed at a lower cost anytime, any place, and anywhere. This provides greater flexibility because the cameras can be readily moved in response to the council’s needs. The information is then transmitted onto the council’s data network and can be accessed from any location –  even a police car located around the corner from the camera.”

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