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Public Safety - Case Study

The City of Marietta, GA, offers a case study of how wireless broadband networks can be integrated into a municipal information technology system.  Marietta is currently deploying the initial stages of a Tyco Electronics VIDA Broadband system.   The VIDA Broadband network operates on the City’s private 4.9 GHz spectrum, which is reserved by the FCC solely for the use of state and local governmental and public safety agencies.   This spectrum, which is available for free to the Commonwealth and all the localities within the Commonwealth, allows governmental agencies to build out private broadband networks that ensure capacity and coverage where these governmental agencies need coverage.  This is in contrast to commercial networks, which generally build out in areas of highest population density.

The Marietta broadband network is being built to support a number of city agencies’ applications.   The initial users of the Marietta network are the City’s Bureau of Lights and Water and the Marietta Police Department.  The Bureau of Lights and Water is using the network to monitor its facilities (notably unauthorized access to, and water levels at, the city’s primary water tower).  The Marietta Police Department is interested in using the same network infrastructure to provide broadband connectivity for a mobile video surveillance unit.  The mobile video surveillance unit would be moved to various areas in the city to monitor areas where community events, graffiti or other criminal activities became issues.  The VIDA Broadband network uses the WiMAX, or 802.16 protocols to provide the city with Grade of Service (allocated bandwidth on a per application basis), encrypted security and authentication (allowing only authorized users on the network).

Although the cost and coverage of the initial network deployment is relatively small, the City can grow the network as funding and needs become apparent.  The deployment of the network is being led by the City’s Information Technology department, which has taken a broad view of support for the City’s agencies on the network.  Because IT is leading the wireless broadband initiative, the network is being made available for other agencies that can benefit from the infrastructure.  Future uses include providing city fire stations with broadband network connectivity, and including the broadband network as part of the Bureau of Lights and Water’s automated meter-reading system.

The products used in the VIDA Broadband network are designed for public safety usage, which means that they have are capable of operating in a wide variety of environmental conditions.  Tyco Electronics, with over 75 years experience in deploying radio networks for mission critical applications, has been building networks to withstand hurricanes, floods, ice storms and earthquakes.  Historically commercial networks have suffered from outages due to congestion or equipment failure in times of extreme catastrophe.  In contrast, the VIDA Broadband network, allocated exclusively for governmental use and engineered for system reliability, provides communications when communications are needed most.

Acknowledgement:  Paul May, Tyco Electronics ( for providing input to this section.