Don asked if I would share a few details from our TV whitespace Wi-Fi installation with you.  Here's a FAQ sheet I prepared briefly describing the project.
Kerry Ingersoll, IT manager, MPL.

FAQs about Manhattan Public Library's TV Whitespace Project

• How long has your library been involved with the Whitespace project?
Manhattan Public Library’s initial contact was through a conference call with Jeff Hixon of the Kansas State Library, Don Means of GLN and Kiely Cronin, engineer from Carlson Wireless on August 8, 2013.

• How long did it take for Manhattan Public Library to “Go Live” with Whitespace once you got involved with the project?
The project was supposed to go live in September of 2013.  However, we did not receive the equipment until October 2, 2013 and began bench-testing then.  Because the equipment (and instructions) arrived late, we were delayed in the installation process.  The base station and antenna was our first priority.  It took a while to arrange for assistance with the antenna mounting and cable routing.  We were further delayed by winter weather.  Our first remote access point at the City Park Playground went live at the end of February, 2014.  It was popular immediately.  The only serious marketing was on our website and through signage at the Playground (provided by the Park Dept.)

• What was the initial attraction to the Whitespace project that got the library involved?
We feel it is a technology that is important to explore in a changing library landscape.  The possibility of extending the reach of our library’s service community was very attractive.  Also, the potential to reach out and offer our services to underserved populations was also attractive.

• With a brief explanation, have your expectations of this technology been met at this point?
Yes, they have.   We keep usage statistics from all of our access points and these three remote locations have made a significant contribution to our totals.  The City administration is pleased with being able to offer Wi-Fi at these locations with little expense or hassle on their part.

• Can you list a few Pros & Cons of your Whitespace experience?
The equipment came with fairly well-written instructions for installation, testing and management.  We had good support from the equipment vendor, Carlson Wireless.  Don Means has been extremely helpful with the process throughout.  Statistics have proven that the service fills a need and the City, as mentioned before, is very happy with the outcome.  Our library administration and staff are also pleased.

We would have liked to deploy these in the Fall rather than the Winter, for obvious reasons.
Part way through this year, the system changed from being managed by a remote server to locally, putting the responsibility for proper configuration and management squarely on us.  We had issues with this setup immediately as the auto-channel switching would crash on a somewhat regular (but unpredictable) basis.  This was finally resolved, with vendor support, by changing to manual channel selection.
This installation also puts my IT staff in a new realm… broadcast engineers.  Not that we haven’t handled it, but there is an installation and management learning curve that some may find just too complicated to tackle.  We have an FCC license to operate this equipment and have a few new management details to attend to, such as making sure people don’t stand too close to the base antenna on our roof when it’s powered-up.
In fairness, this is new technology, and undoubtedly installation and management will be easier going forward.  Don has already shared with me how this is starting to change.

• How has the community reacted to the use of the Whitespace technology?

We know it’s popular from our statistics.  Even in winter, we are getting good numbers from the Playground location.  Our Douglass Center stats are consistently high.  The access point at the City Park Pool was moved for the winter over to our Ice Pavilion and has been very popular.  We occasionally hear from our patrons that they “discovered” the access points and are happy we are providing the service.  As said above, our city’s administration and particularly their Park Department, are very pleased with this collaboration.

I’ve also approached our county’s Emergency Management Dept. to share information about the technology and they have shown interest in learning about our system and what potential it may have in a crisis situation.
Shared publiclyView activity