Over Christmas 2015/16, Lineal launched a technical trial of the Barnstaple Free Wifi Project to provide free, public-access Wifi to Barnstaple Town Centre.
The pilot scheme, which took place during the busiest shopping period of the year, saw our team solve a number of technical challenges: scoping sites for Wifi access points, installing suitable hardware and managing network connectivity for shoppers and visitors to the town.
With generous support from Barnstaple Town Centre Management (BTCM), North Devon Council and M&E Alarms, our trial delivered a free wifi network connected to by more than 400 people each day at peak usage.
To build the network itself, we chose Cisco Meraki MR-66 ruggedised outdoor routers, fixing a ‘mesh’ grid of interconnected access points high on selected buildings owned by local businesses who agreed to take part. Visitors to the town could connect from any smartphone or other wirelessely enabled device, via a special ‘splash’ page.
Managing Director of Lineal, Mike Matthews, explained: “We wanted to attempt an ambitious project which would benefit our local area. Wider connectivity opens up new ways for people to find out information about upcoming events, for local businesses to advertise, and for visitors to our town to share their enjoyment of Barnstaple with friends and family over social media. There are many possibilities.”
Throughout the trial period each access point also collected anonymised location data in real-time. With as many as 20,000 wirelessly enabled devices moving within Barnstaple town centre during a 24 hour period, the free Wifi Project was also successfully used to measure footfall patterns in public places, which could one day be used to help local authorities plan for busy periods.
Although the Barnstaple Free Wifi Project pilot has now ended, team members from Lineal presented the initial findings to the Barnstaple Town Centre Management, North Devon Council and Devon County Council in February 2016, with a view to launching the network as a more permanent asset for the town in the near future.
For more information on cabling & network infrastructure services from Lineal: click here or call us today on 01271 375999