Huntington parks set up wireless system

Oct 15, 2013

  The Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District is banking on the idea that if WiFi is available, people will come to the park.

Antenna on top of Ritter Park Shelter.

An internet service provider based in Huntington pipes a signal directly to antenna’s located at strategic locations in the park. That signal is turned into WiFi; available to connect to mobile devices in the park. At 50 megabytes per second the Park District thinks they’re on to something that the public will enjoy. Kevin Brady is the Executive Director.

“With today’s technology there is really no reason you couldn’t do that in a park. So here we are I can basically go in and access my email account and spend two hours here and work just like I was sitting at my desk,” Brady said.

At a cost of $400 an antenna, Brady thinks it’s a good idea. He said it may seem backwards, that at a place where people come to exercise and look at nature, is trying to be a technological innovator for the area. Brady said in a time when everyone is glued to their smartphone, tablet or computer it just makes sense to provide them with another incentive to come to the parks in the area.

“The thought process is combining old with new. We have always wanted people to get up from their couches, get up from in front of their computer, get out away from the TV and come to the parks and I know that we’re not going to get everybody to put their smart phone down and put their laptop down and just go play,” Brady said.

Charlie Theuring was at Ritter Park Tuesday. He said he can see why some would like it, but says coming to the park is his time away from technology.

“Really should you be utilizing WiFi while you’re enjoying the outdoors and the scenery and hanging out with your kids and stuff like that, maybe you should be paying attention to them. That’s my first immediate reaction to WiFi at a park. I don’t think about getting on my phone or my laptop while I’m out enjoying the scenery,” Theuring said.

Brady said though to others the service will be useful, like Marshall students or those wanting to leave the office cubicle and work outside one afternoon. Or he said those exercising can now stream music off the internet without using their data plans.

Besides Ritter Park wireless has also been set up at Harris Riverfront Park in Huntington and soon at Rotary Park. Brady said the hope is to have wireless available at each of the parks they run in town.

And so far, Brady said they’re not worried about a lack of bandwidth at the parks.

“They tell me that 100 users will not be a noticeable slow down, 200 users it might be, 300 users, and that’s per unit, 300 users and it’s really going to start slowing down, if we had a huge event here and everybody suddenly logged in at the same time you might notice a slowdown,” Brady said.

Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District will combat the idea of overload by creating a layout that will alleviate problems.

“We’re setting up basically a grid system, there is a transceiver here, there’s one at the fountain, and there will be one up here and one up there and that grid system should cover the entire area and it’s somewhat omni-directional,” Brady said.

Brady said this will help bring the park district on the cutting edge.