Top Ten Trends in Municipal Wireless

At the recent MuniWireless 2007: Silicon Valley conference in Santa Clara the organizers created a series of blog posts to document their list of the Top 50 Trends in Municipal Wireless.   These were the result of observations and discussions the authors had during the conference.   After the list of 50 trends was completed, they culled it down to the top 10 Trends in Municipal Wireless.  I thought I’d summarize it for you here. 

1. Growing Market:   The days of irrational Muni WiFi exuberance are over.  Real networks are now live and US spending on municipal broadband systems will see rapid growth over the next 12 months. 

2. Applications:  The municipal broadband networks enable all types of real-world applications.  Examples include:  Automated meter reading in Burbank, Calif., tele-medicine in Tucson, Ariz., and video surveillance in Granbury, Texas. 

3. Digital Inclusion:  Free city-wide WiFi isn’t a realistic goal for most municipalities, but there is a real trend towards digital inclusion initiatives.  One prime example: Houston has set aside $3.5 million for potential DI efforts. 

4. Big Cities Move Forward:  Despite some big, painful setbacks this year, major cities such as Chicago, Houston, and Tucson have active initiatives. Expect more cities to follow with targeted applications. 

5. Small Cities Are On the Map:  Small cities are successfully deploying solutions.  Examples include Armory, Mississippi and Granbury, Texas. 

6. Think Locally:  Municipal wireless applications is not all about access to the internet.  Networking can spur collaboration between local businesses, residents and entrepreneurs, enabling them to share ideas and content that stir economic development. 

7. Mobile Masses:  When consumers load up on more WiFi-enabled handhelds this holiday season, demand for anywhere, anytime WiFi access will surely rise. 

8. Youth Movement:  Generation Y’s desire for sharing, publishing and reformatting information will push the concept of online collaboration and software truly is a service. 

9. One Size Doesn’t Fit All:  While applications are a big trend, don’t expect any killer apps. 

10. Maturing Ecosystem:  While there is still a need for qualified and trained integrators, other parts of the ecosystem (Wireless mesh equipment suppliers, application providers, and service providers) continue to evolve their business models around paid, advertising and anchor tenant models. 

The blog was more or less an advertising tool to get everyone interested in attending follow-on conferences.  They were also advertising their recently published "2007 MuniWireless State of the Market Report" (get a summary of that report here).  However, this was, for me, a nice easy way to find out what is going on in the Municipal Wireless marketplace. 

For more information on these and other trends discussed during the Santa Clara conference, you can access the blog entries for the 50 trends here