Port Angeles wireless network would become available to public

PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles residents might be able to tap into a citywide wireless network in two years.

To improve public safety, the city is hoping to establish a wireless network that would allow police and firefighters to have Internet access anywhere and on every call.

That network also would be accessible to residents and businesses, the city’s Utility Advisory Committee was told Tuesday.

How much that would cost users and how fast the network would be has not been determined, said Larry Dunbar, city deputy director of power systems.

The network remains a staff proposal.

Seeking grant

The city is hoping to be approved for a $2.6 million grant through Northwest Open Access Network, a nonprofit organization.

The rest of the network’s cost, about $1.1 million, would be the city’s responsibility.

The grant would require the network to be finished by August 2013.

Upon receipt of the grant, staff plan to bring the issue before the City Council.

Both Police Chief Terry Gallagher and Fire Chief Dan McKeen touted the benefits of the network at the committee meeting.

Gallagher said officers would be able to get information on a criminal on-the-spot through a computer in their patrol car.

“They can do in the car what they rely on dispatch to do,” said Gallagher, who referred to public access to the network as “icing on the cake.”

McKeen said the network would allow medics and firefighters to do more medical treatment on the scene by sending medical information quickly to a physician.

Nathan West, city economic and community development director, touted the proposed network as a tool for economic development.

“It really speaks loudly to the fact that we’re committed to innovation and technology in Port Angeles,” he said.

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Reporter Tom Callis can be reached at 360-417-3532 or at tom.callis@peninsuladailynews.com.

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