Township looks to enhance security, Wi-Fi in Town Center

The Woodlands Township is hoping to improve public safety and online connectivity at events such as The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival.

The Woodlands Township is hoping to improve public safety and online connectivity at events such as The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival.

The Woodlands Township is looking to enhance public safety and online connectivity throughout Town Center with improvements to its technological infrastructure. Those improvements could come in the form of additional security cameras and enhanced Wi-Fi bandwidth, according to a study conducted by Div28 Consulting.

The township hired Div28 after allocating money in its current budget to study the possibility of improving safety and technological infrastructure throughout The Woodlands.

However, after the initial report by Div28 concluded that more than $10 million was needed to improve Wi-Fi and install cameras throughout The Woodlands, the township decided at its March 25 board of directors meeting to focus its efforts on Town Center.

“In Town Center there can be over 200,000 people on any given day working, shopping, living,” said John Powers, assistant general manager for community services for the township. “When we have big events like a concert at the pavilion or a festival at Town Green Park, a lot of people have trouble making connections to cell phones and Wi-Fi.”

In addition, Powers said vendors often have trouble making credit card transactions when wireless credit card machines cannot obtain a Wi-Fi connection during events that attract large crowds.

Marian Leck, township director of law enforcement services, said new security cameras in Town Center could help improve law enforcement mobility.

“When we have large events will be the most likely time we would utilize cameras,” she said.

The report by Div28 cited the 2013 terrorist bombing during the Boston Marathon as an example of a need to enhance the township’s public camera system.

“The concept of situational awareness during events such as the Ironman or other large-venue events that gain national and/or international attention is a must in today’s times,” the Div28 report stated. “The video surveillance footage of the tragedy at the Boston Marathon gave evidence to that fact.”

The report goes on to suggest the township work with local businesses to provide video feeds of building exteriors near large-scale events.

“Quite frankly, the Boston Marathon event scared us and got our attention,” Powers said. “Ironman, the CB&I Triathlon, those are events that could be targets. They haven’t been, but they could be. So we want to be prepared.”

The township board is reviewing the proposal by Div28 and could decide on a project implementation list based on highest priority, Powers said.

Any significant upgrades to the infrastructure would likely have to come in 2016, he said.

“We do have $380,000 in this year’s budget, but it won’t be enough,” Powers said.


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