City parks get ‘Web’bed

The city, through a partnership with SBC Wisconsin and Cisco Systems, launched the network July 28. SBC and Cisco, among others, donated equipment and SBC Yahoo! Internet service, Gschwind said.

These donations meant the network came with “practically no expense to tax payers,” said Steve Filmanowicz, spokesman for Mayor John O. Norquist. “The mayor heard Long Beach, Calif., had provided city-sponsored wireless networks. He said we should do this for Milwaukee.”

According to Gschwind, the mayor contacted him and the project began.

There were a few initial user log-on problems, but “the system has worked flawlessly,” Gschwind said.

Joseph Simonds, technology consultant and part owner of the coffeehouse, Node, 1504 E. North Ave, helped develop the capture portal page, the first Web page users see when they connect to the Internet.

“It’s a simple Web page that says ‘I agree to not do anything illegal on the city’s network,’ ” Simonds said.

Simonds donated his free time to helping with other areas of the project.

Gschwind said this wireless network was part of a one-year demonstration project.

“We just wanted to demonstrate that this technology would work,” he said. He also said this would create good publicity for the city.

The networks work through one-directional antennas set-up around the parks, which emit high-frequency radio waves. Users can access the Web in the parks, on the sidewalks around the parks and possibly in surrounding buildings, Gschwind said.

“The Cathedral Square antenna is in the northwest end of the park,” he said. “I went into Taylor’s, (795 N. Jefferson St.), on the south-west end of the park and got access.”

“We applaud the fact that it benefits park users,” said Keith Kalberer, director for marketing for Milwaukee County Parks. He said the city converted the parks to Internet “hot spots” without changing park infrastructure.