By Lester Wong, Account Manager, Cisco Canada
The Town of Hantsport was not content to simply be the first community in Nova Scotia to offer free public Wi-Fi to its citizens. Instead, the sleepy mill town, with a population of less than 2,000 people, has dreamed up big plans for its Cisco-powered fibre optic network.
And after a recent discussion with the town’s IT manager, Matt Povah, those lofty goals are close to becoming a reality.
Since its recent deployment of the Wi-Fi network using the Cisco Wireless Mesh Networking Solution, the town has expanded its mesh network from four nodes to five and will add more radios in the coming months. With the exception of the residential area, all of the town’s major public hotspots are now covered by the network.
Additionally, using Cisco Video Surveillance Operation Manager (VSOM), the town has also been able to use the fibre optic network for security purposes. Povah has already deployed 11 high-definition cameras and a variety of standard digital cameras throughout the community.
The results so far speak for themselves. With only two RCMP officers assigned to the small town, the HD cameras have been crucial in deterring vandalism, speeding and other crimes, especially around the town’s parks and playgrounds.
In the near future, Povah plans to add more HD cameras along the town’s roads. Some of these cameras will be hooked into the Wi-Fi network and can be remotely controlled (zoom and pan) by his iPhone. The Cisco VSOM system can also be controlled from his iPhone or any other system linked to the management network.
Povah has also put up cameras around Hantsport’s town hall, all hooked into a Cisco Small Business Security application, that allows town staff to watch live video from their desktop, laptop or tablet devices. This is especially useful for town employees working late at night in the small town hall facility.
Both public Internet connectivity and security were top of mind when the project was first conceived, but the town has found a few more uses for its Cisco-powered network. And this is where this small town’s ingenuity truly shines.
The Town of Hantsport has a state of the art emergency centre in town and, through the Cisco network, is able to create an interdepartmental emergency operations zone that could facilitate emergency relief efforts from the RCMP and other provincial agencies. In the event of an emergency near the town, Hantsport’s network has the potential to facilitate a mobile emergency centre.
“We’re actually looking to become a secondary back-up for our provincial emergency operations system,” Povah told me, referring to Nova Scotia’s joint emergency operations centre in Halifax.
As the Wi-Fi network continues to get stronger, Povah is also looking to implement a cellular phone solution that would let town employees make free calls over the mesh network. This would lead to significant cost savings on phone bills.
The public safety benefits also extend to the town’s fire department. Firefighters on route to the scene of a burning building can now use software to connect with volunteer firefighters already on scene. This software, which runs over the network, helps the fire station manage its resources more effectively and has improved firefighting efforts.
In the near future, the fire station is looking to deploy software that will track the movement of all fire fighters that enter a burning building via a 3D mock-up map. Povah said this type of innovative software is almost unheard at a town of Hantsport’s size, but has been made possible by the mesh network.
“Cisco is the whole core of the network, from the mesh to the firewall to the switches,” he said.
We’re excited to see what else this “sleepy mill town,” as Povah calls it, has to offer in the years to come.
My thanks to Matt Povah for sharing the Town of Hantsport’s story with us.
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