Friday, November 21, 2008

Fairfield upgrades Internet service with microwave transmission

Fairfield upgrades Internet service with microwave transmission
By Ben Antonius | Daily Republic | November 20, 2008

Tim Shephard, an IT Analyist for the City of Fairfield, installs a security camera at the intersection of Tabor Ave and Pennsylvania Ave Wednesday. The cameras are part of major effort by the city to upgrade its internet services and wireless capabilites. Photo by Chris Jordan

FAIRFIELD - The city is getting unwired.

Fairfield has launched a major effort to upgrade Internet service at city buildings, an undertaking that will be largely invisible to anyone who does not spend a lot of time perched atop City Hall or Martin Hill.

The city is embracing microwave transmission, a technology that will ultimately allow data to be sent and received at all city facilities dramatically faster than is currently possible.

'This is an alternative to the traditional breaking of the street and running conduit and fiber to every building,' said Steve Garrison, the city's chief information officer.

The effort will initially be most visible near David Weir Elementary School on Pennsylvania Avenue, where city crews began installing 15 security cameras on Wednesday.

The cameras will be served through a microwave data transmission system atop Martin Hill to the north, Garrison said. A second set of cameras, installed downtown in August, is wirelessly connected through an antenna atop the Fairfield Center for Creative Arts.

'The police (department's) goal is to have cameras from Texas to Texas,' Garrison said. 'They eventually foresee an 80 to 80 corridor that monitors crime.'

The city is using two different types of cameras in the undertaking: a 'pan-tilt-zoom' camera and a digital camera that allows zooming and image enhancement after the fact.

But while the cameras are the most obvious component of the project, they are just one facet.

The city needed to upgrade its overall data capacity, Garrison said. The new system will remove a variety of hindrances, ultimately letting scattered fire stations conduct video conferences, public works employees view complex utility maps and enabling automatic, wireless upgrades of software in police cruisers.

The project will take several years to complete, Garrison said.

See the complete story at then Daily Republic online.