Iowa Launches Police WiFi Program in School Parking Lots

State officials say they don’t expect the costs associated with the program to be high.

A new program in Iowa will give police officers high speed internet connection in three Iowa school district parking lots to enhance officer presence and emergency preparedness.

The Iowa Department of Public Safety announced the pilot program July 26. The Marshalltown, Norwalk and Martensdale school districts will receive the service initially while officials hope to eventually offer the service to schools statewide, reports

The program, called WISE for WiFi Internet for School Emergencies, will allow officers to access 100 Mbps connections from their patrol cars at all times.

State officials and local police say the benefits of the service are two-fold.

During non-emergencies, officers will be able to park in the school’s lot and transmit crime reports or download information. This will increase the amount of time officers spend near the school campuses.

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During emergencies, police and other emergency responders will be able to use the internet connection to better coordinate responses and assist the schools. Officers will also be able to view video surveillance cameras in the schools if they have internet-based surveillance systems.

“We will be able to communicate far better in emergencies as a result of that good connection,” Iowa Public Safety Commissioner Roxann Ryan says.

Ryan added that sufficient security features will be added to the network to ensure only authorized personnel can access the surveillance footage.

The WiFi will go through the Iowa Communications Network, which already links schools and hospitals with agencies in the government sector. Companies Aruba, Cisco and Fortinet will supply the WiFi equipment.

The districts participating in the program will not be charged and officials expect associated costs to the program to be low.

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