What for WiFi

“If you move wireless outside there’s a lot of planning involved, especially depending on where you’re located and the time of year. It would be very nice to have something outside, and we’re working on establishing something in the next two or three years,” says Linville. “WiFi access outside would open up handheld devices like PDAs to our staff. They’re already asking for them because of handheld technology’s functionality and portability. We’re seeing that the smaller local access points has its advantages, but if you can have a point that’s high enough, with a key or central access point that broadcasts to other offices, there’s a definite advantage. We’d also like to consider voice-over IP with a wireless radio phone, which would use a wireless access point. Right now we’re using two-way radios, but you could literally route a phone call to someone in the field or talk to them on the radio at the same time, but you need to have a wireless access point that’s strong enough to broadcast that information.”

Linville stresses that all of this progress is dependent upon making sure the system is updated and well-maintained. SpringHill has a relatively healthy budget for technology, and Linville says it’s made a big difference in the efficiency of the operation.

“If you haven’t invested enough in technology, the network begins to deteriorate over a period of time and the standards are no longer in place. Then you’re backpedaling and wondering why you’re spending so much on technology,” says Linville. “We have a three-year rotation plan — after every three years we rotate out a third of our equipment. A computer can last forever, but it doesn’t keep up with technology and software. If we keep up with replacement, we can support new software and technology. It’s good to have a strategy and standard and stick with it. We stick with certain brands, for instance — I look at the product, and how it’s supported. We have more than 200 workstations at our camp. Do I want to repair all of those? I’m one person who runs the network at two facilities. Our equipment is more expensive but we really pride ourselves on sticking with the strategy we began in 1999, and here we are in 2005 and we have a very stable network because we decided to go with a standard and stuck with it. We don’t have to spend a lot of time repairing things, and if there’s a problem we expect the vendor to come through for us because we paid for it.”

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