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Wireless Internet for crowd control

15 July 2008 - Due to the municipality's reluctance to promote the introduction of wireless Internet, Amsterdam is still living in the Middle Ages, says Huub Verweij (VVD). Wifi should be available for employees and tourists, but also for policing purposes.

A wifi network would enable the police to install cheap surveillance cameras on lamp posts for crowd control purposes during large events such as the Uitmarkt cultural festival, Queen's Day and large demonstrations. It would also be possible to feed footage to hand-held computers used by policemen on the street.

The police are enthusiastic about the possibilities wifi would offer, says Verweij.

At his initiative, the municipality held an expert meeting on the topic in April. At the meeting, Verweij said that Amsterdammers are living in the Middle Ages. He added that he has to steal from the neighbours in order to get a connection during council meetings.

The municipality has announced it will form an opinion on the topic by October. It says the issue is complicated because of the rapid introduction of new technologies. Also, an active involvement of the municipality might violate market regulations.

Verweij responds that he does not ask the municipality to be actively involved, but to coordinate efforts of commercial parties. Incidentally, the municipality does participate in a partnership that is connecting Amsterdam homes to a glass fibre network.

Last June, Worldmax introduced a wimax network offering wireless Internet access within the ring road for 20 euro per month. Some say wimax will replace wifi.

Verweij says that wimax is currently not an alternative for wifi, since today's laptops are not prepared for wimax and it will take years before they are. He also finds it problematic that wimax users cannot choose a provider but have to do business with Worldmax.

Image: Worldmax introducing wimax in Amsterdam. Photo Erwin Boogert / Flickr


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