A message came acrross the web4lib list a few weeks ago with the following request:
I want to hear from libraries who are currently implementing, or who already have implemented, wireless access for staff and/or patrons. I want your ‘stories’–good, bad and ugly. Issues and/or triumphs with IT staff, vendors, library staff, library boards, faculty committees, etc. I’m looking for all aspects of the process-finding hardware, implementation, policy (!), training staff, marketing the service to your patron base, troubleshooting and maintenance issues.
My response included the following:
The problem, of course, is that vendors are well prepared to deliver solutions that appear secure for office environments, but public service environments change everything. Patrons use a broad range of equipment, most of it incompatible with the solutions targeted at private offices. It’s important to look in other markets — the hospitality industry, for example — for wireless implementations that work in public spaces.
I wasn’t leading the wireless charge at the time we were investigating a campus-wide installation, and I’m even further from it now, but I wrote a few posts that addressed the needs and concerns we face: The Wireless Security Landscape, Wireless Vulnerabilities, Better Networks Through Policy, and What For Wireless?.
Defined as the delivery of high-speed wireline or wireless Internet access for PC or handheld devices to users in need of temporary service in public places, a Visitor-Based Network is typically deployed in environments such as hotels, convention centers, airports, press areas or other meeting spaces
In a Visitor-Based Networking service area, visitors attempting to access the Internet through a browser will get an IP address and be redirected to a customizable, secure VBN portal. At the VBN portal screen, the visitor can self-provision a variety of network services based on application content, bandwidth and security requirements. For example, the visitor may choose pay-by-bandwidth or pay-by-time services. The VBN portal provides full support of customer-initiated debit and credit card billing options as well as hotel account billing.