Every so often a project comes along that gives everyone a good feeling. Auckland Transport, with help from Vector, has funded the installation of twenty specially designed street light columns in the Glen Innes area to connect local schools to a Wi Fi network. The aim of the project is to help the Manaiakalani Trust to give local children access to high speed internet via Wi Fi. Whilst internet is readily available in the homes of most New Zealanders the affordability of internet and broadband still puts it out of reach in lower decile areas like Glen Innes.
In 2007 an initial cluster of decile 1 schools were keen to find a way to engage students in the Tamaki community. This prompted the formation of the Manaiakalani Trust. One of the key focuses of the trust is to make digital learning available to all students from year 1 – 13. Families in the programme pay $3.50 per week to own their child’s network device. However, having the device is one thing, being connected is another.
Along with the Manaiakalani Trust, Auckland Transport has joined a list of organisations supporting the 12 schools in the Tamaki community. “We have been helping the Manaiakalani Trust in the Glen Innes area to connect local schools to a Wi Fi network which has produced remarkable educational outcomes,” said Peter Martin, Lighting Contracts Engineer for Auckland Transport. “As part of that support we have provided connections to street lighting columns and now, in an effort to provide wider, more reliant coverage, we have designed a higher than usual column with a connection point at the top for the Wi Fi aerial.”
“We were asked by Auckland Transport to help design a specialised lighting column so a Wi Fi antennae could be attached,” says Lawrence Amos, Project Support Engineer for CSP Pacific. “Originally a standard column had been used with a bracket attached, however Auckland Transport wanted a safer and more aesthetically pleasing design. That's where we came in.”
Using a standard lighting column Auckland Transport's lighting team leader David Dick sketched a modified design which CSP Pacific's engineers adapted to allow the attachment of the Wi Fi antennae - still allowing the column to operate as a streetlight. "The new columns look much better and are considerably safer than previous versions," adds Lawrence. "It's a great initiative and we were happy that we could help in a small way."
Andrew Gurr, Managing Director of Fusion Networks, the company behind the project explains, “Auckland Transport drove the concepts around a clever solution to deploy the Wi Fi equipment in areas where power had been undergrounded. The solution they recommended was both simple and aesthetically pleasing. Their commitment to find a long term solution was innovative, and their financial support in delivering the solution heart warming for this community.”