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September 19, 2012

Utica enters wireless age with Internet in city, police offices

By Brad D. Bates
C & G Staff Writer

UTICA — In terms of wireless communications, the Utica City Council unanimously voted to enter the 21st century Sept. 11.

The council voted to split $584.64 between the city’s general fund and the police budget to install secure and public wireless Internet access in its city and police offices.

“It was just time,” City Clerk Cathy McGrail said of the upgrade. “We’ve had meetings with people, and they need to access files online and can’t get on our network, and it slows everything down.

“And they’ve had attorneys in the Police Department that couldn’t reach files. It’s mainly for meetings.”

The city was able to make the change with minimal cost, because the Downtown Development Authority authorized $200 to offset the total $784.64 price tag for SYO Computer Engineering Services, of Shelby Township, to connect the police and city offices.

“We’ll have a bake sale to cover that,” McGrail quipped of the $292.32 cost to the city.

The wireless upgrade will allow the public to access the Internet on their mobile phones and tablets while either conducting business or waiting at city hall, and McGrail said that Utica’s offices should have access within a month.

Free wireless Internet is available at the Shelby Township Public Library, where Director David Conklin said patrons take full advantage of the opportunities.

“From a library standpoint, having access to information is one of our basic services,” Conklin said. “And a great way to do that is providing (wireless Internet) and access to more information that what we have in our walls.”

Conklin said that his library has 100 unique IP addresses available throughout a week. An Internet Protocol address is a number assigned to each device on a computer network.

“When we recently upgraded our router, it gave us 100 IP addresses a week, and I can tell you we’re getting more than 100 users a week,” Conklin said.

“And it’s not something that is unique to Shelby Township. Other libraries have had that problem, because demand is so high.”

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Brad D. Bates at bbates@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1029.