Schools are looking at ways to provide Internet at home for their students and staff.  In Vermont there are places where there is no way to connect and short of running fiber or building cell towers there are no options.


Thinking outside the box, something schools can do is offer WiFi in the parking lot.  


Sometimes it is as simple as walking around the building and identifying some parking spaces that get a strong enough signal.  The next step is letting people know they are welcome and identifying where a sufficient signal can be found. This would limit access to devices/accounts that you already allow on your network and people who you invite.


This is something you can do today that will help your students’ keep in touch and continue learning.


Maybe you have some parking spots that get a good signal and are near an outside outlet.  Could you offer people the outlet to plug in their devices so they aren’t limited to the battery life of their device?


What if you don’t have a good signal near the parking spots where you would like to offer access?  Do you have a window where you could place an access point that would cover the spots? The classrooms are empty and our networks are only lightly used so there may be resources we can repurpose for this emergency.


There may be situations where the students will be using devices that are not able to authenticate to the school’s internal network.  Is there a guest network? When you communicate to your community include information necessary to access your guest network. There should be plenty of bandwidth with the building(s) empty so make sure there is a usable amount of bandwidth so this will not be a frustrating experience for your school community.


Here is a map of WiFi access points throughout Vermont.


https://publicservice.vermont.gov/announcements/public-wifi-hotspots-vermont


Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every public school in Vermont were added to this map?  What a great learning resource for our communities.


Next; some thoughts on intentional public WiFi as a part of a school’s IT infrastructure.


Craig Lyndes

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