5. OWL Comes to The Great Outdoors

As most of you will have gathered the OWL2 Public Area project is just about completed and seems to be working extremely well. Always on the lookout for ways to improve our services we started to look at some of the public spaces that don’t normally spring to mind as they don’t quite fit the conventional planning models. With the prospect of Summer, looming we have selected a couple of outdoor areas to cover with Eduroam and OWL wireless services for the benefit of those staff and students who like to head for nearby green spaces with their lunchtime drinks and baguettes.

Last year we covered the Cricket Pavillion in the University Parks and the seating area outside.

What is available now, however, is the whole of the Wellington Square garden area - this went live in April using a Cisco 1262 AP driving a 2.4GHz directional array that “lights up” the whole green space within the railings.

The next plan is to cover the grass areas adjacent to the Keble Gate entrance of the University Parks with similar equipment. We are close to providing a service within the Botanic Gardens for both staff and University visitors.

We did consider “painting” the service to cover the front of the railway station, but the presence of some mobile wireless reflectors that the Oxford Bus Company seem to like moving around at random times suggests that the service would be inconsistent at best.

Three thoughts. We’d welcome a little feedback on these!

  • Is the 2.4GHz option the best one? We could have used 5GHz arrays but assumed that most modern and legacy devices can use 2.4GHz and we’re anxious to cater for the majority of user’s equipment.
  • How much coverage in the University Parks is desirable? Is “hot spotting” the right philosophy to use or should we cover as much as possible? Should we leave large “quiet” areas for those who don’t appreciate the constant eager keyboard chatter?
  • Are there any other (outdoor) candidate sites that might be considered? The Gloucester Green bus station, maybe? Radcliffe Camera square?

We have some equipment that will be retained in OUCS for spares which enables us to demonstrate the feasibility of practical coverage of, for instance, College quads or other large enclosed building spaces. This kit includes external antennae that cover 2.4GHz, or 5GHz wireless in both directional and omni-directional versions. Contact us via your ITSS Officer if you think that your establishment could benefit.

As always, your feedback would be appreciated! Use the OUCS Suggestions Form.

Up: Contents Previous: 4. The Internet has Run Out! Next: 6. Who is Henryk Glogowski?