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Municipal Services

Lawrence Freenet is not asking for a handout. In exchange for a loan guarantee the organization is willing to provide the City of Lawrence with assets and services worth $12,280,000 over the first 10 years of service. It should be noted that when adjusted for inflation this represents as much benefit to the city as the total franchise fees paid by both the local cable operator and the local telephone carrier combined.

 

Included in the municipal amenities are:

 

  • Universal broadband access for every child in Lawrence.
  • Ownership of over 25 miles of fiber-optic cable located throughout the community.
  • Offsite access for city workers
  • Secure access for the Police Department
  • Universal Access to Public Library IT Resources
  • HAMMER Emergency Broadcast System
  • KanREN access for serving the University of Kansas

Freenet-Kids - Universal Broadband for Children

The core service being proposed by Lawrence Freenet is Freenet-KIDS. This service would be delivered on a separate SSID from Freenet's current low income and member services. The SSID "Freenet-KIDS" would be broadcast city wide and would allow any child to access the Internet using any WiFi enabled device.

 

As has been discussed above, the network would be developed with child friendly filtering technology and would provide true broadband speeds of 1,024 Kbps under nominal network load.

 

Children within the community would be able to make use of the network for educational activities such as research, educational games, document composition, and much, much more.

 

By providing universal Internet access to every child in the community, Lawrence would become a national leader in broadband access and an example to other communities across the United States. By doing it without any municipal expenditure, the City would demonstrate financial prudence and help pave the way for a working model for municipal wireless.

 

The Lawrence Freenet project has already caused other communities across the state to take notice. Osage City, for example, cites Lawrence Freenet as a key factor in creating When contacted by Freenet regarding the status of their project City Commissioner Jason Croucher of Osage closed his e-mail with "I know your organization has done some excellent work in Lawrence (in the end, you're our inspiration)."

 

By providing children throughout the City of Lawrence with broadband Internet access, Freenet will be providing a service that is worth $9,420,000 over a ten year time frame. This number was arrived at by multiplying Lawrence Freenet's minimum subscriber cost ($7.85/Mo) by 10,000 students. Taking this number and multiplying by 120 months yields a benefit of $9,420,000.

 

The proposed service includes:

 

  1. Basic telephone support
  2. Five full time field support staff dedicated exclusively to Freenet-Kids
  3. Wireless broadband access for children throughout the community

 

It should be noted that it does not include in-home support for each and every student. To receive help getting their computers online parents or students will need to bring their device into the daily in-school support session.

Fiber-optic Cable

There are several ways that the current Lawrence Freenet proposal can save the City of Lawrence money in the short term. One way the project can save the city money is by providing a significant infrastructure asset to the City of Lawrence as partial compensation for the loan guarantee.

 

As part of the proposed solution, Lawrence Freenet plans to provide the City of Lawrence with 1/2 of the fiber-optic cable being installed in the course of the project. Since the engineering for the project has yet to be implemented, the actual number of proposed strands is unknown, but it is likely that more than 96 strands will be installed on each fiber route.

 

Since the City of Lawrence is likely to receive Federal funds for the installation of its ITS system, the Lawrence Freenet team would like to discuss how ownership of the fiber-optic cable can be passed off to the city in the most revenue efficient manner. At the end of the project it is Lawrence Freenet's goal that the City of Lawrence fully own its fiber-optic backbone.

Proposed Fiber-Optic Cable Routes

 

Proposed Fiber-Optic Cable Routes

 

The installation of this asset represents a significant financial incentive for the City of Lawrence and can likely reduce projected expenditures in both the Information Technology department and the Public Works department.

 

Information Technology, for example, can cut expenses by eliminating T-1 service to a number of city facilities.

 

As for Public Works, the City of Lawrence currently has plans on the books to implement an intelligent traffic control system on 6th St. By allowing Lawrence Freenet to install this cable as part of its larger fiber project, the City could save a significant sum of money in FY2008.

 

Freenet's vendor CWC currently has proposals in-house from reputable fiber-optic cable installation organizations that place the value of this part of the proposal at $1,963,501.

Police Access

Over the past several years, Lawrence Freenet has discussed the data needs of the Police Department on several occasions. With the addition of a fiber-optic backbone, Lawrence Freenet can now provide the level of service that the Police department has indicated it requires in order to use the network.

 

As part of this proposal, Freenet would provide data transport services to the City of Lawrence Police Department at no cost. This would enable the police department to access broadband online resources like finger print databases, facial recognition databases, file servers and communications infrastructure from patrol cars located anywhere inside the city limits.

 

Police Officers could also access the network from palm pilots, laptop computers or any other WiFi enabled device. This opens the doors to many exciting applications that can speed up law enforcement, reduce overhead expenditures and improve public safety for all citizens of Lawrence.

 

The company cannot provide free equipment or support to the City of Lawrence Police Department though Lawrence Freenet will provide access to the city wide WiFi network as part of the Freenet-Kids initiative. If the department needs expertise in the installation and maintenance of its wireless equipment or needs help with internal routing, external routing, encryption, mobile VPN solutions or other items of this nature, they would need to be contracted with an outside party.

 

Freenet currently charges paying members $20/Mo for each connection. Freenet currently estimates that the police department will eventually use 100 devices to connect to the network, from laptops, to patrol cars, to security systems to PDAs. This places the monthly value of this gift at $2,000. Over a 10 year term this provides $240,000 in benefits to the City of Lawrence.


Staff Access

All city staff from the planning department, the utilities department, and public works would have access to the WiFi network to help complete their daily jobs.

 

Potential applications include:

 

* Faster inspections & permits for residents

* Improved remote access to GIS information

* Off site access to e-mail & file servers

 

Once access to city network resources becomes available universally, staff will likely think up a number of other ways to better serve the Lawrence community.

 

Once again, Lawrence Freenet will provide data transport, but the installation, configuration, support and maintenance of the equipment necessary to access the network will be the sole responsibility of the City of Lawrence.

 

Freenet currently estimates that the City of Lawrence will eventually use 100 devices to connect to the network. At an aggregate cost of $20/Mo these would provide a benefit of $240,000 to the City over a 10 year timeframe.

Library Access

The Lawrence Public Library is one of the most important resources in the community. It serves as a focal point for community events, provides critical information to students and has one of the most impressive Information Technology initiatives in the City.

 

Though this is a great asset to the community as a whole, limited Internet access within the community can make it hard to use these valuable resources from remote locations.

 

As part of the Freenet-Kids proposal and part of its commitment to education in Lawrence, the Lawrence Freenet team would like to make access to the Library's IT resources universally available.

 

To do this, the Freenet team would simply add the Library's website to the list of resources that are available without a Freenet account. Right now these include Google Maps, The Lawrencian and Lawrence Freenet's own website.

Lawrence Freenet's Login Page Allows Free Access to Certain Sites

 

By adding the public library and its IT resources to this site, Freenet would effectively make access to library resources universal. Citizens from across the community would be able to access the Library's website using any WiFi enabled device.

 

Lawrence Freenet would currently charge paying websites of the Public Library's size $1,000 to make their resources available to the community without a payment. This means that over a 120 month time frame this amenity is worth $120,000.

HAMMER Emergency System

With more and more people using the Internet as their exclusive source for voice, video and data, providing information to residents of the City in the event of an emergency has become increasingly difficult.

 

Traditional emergency broadcast systems use television and radio to alert the community in the event of severe weather, chemical spills or other critical emergencies. Since many members of the community don't tune into these resources, there is a significant danger that they may miss an important warning.

 

The High Availability Municipal Mesh Emergency Response (HAMMER) System is This system was designed to make emergency information available to network users independent of radio or television broadcasts.

 

The system acts to interrupt every web session on the network and re-direct traffic at an emergency information page. What does this mean?

 

If there are 11,000 members using the network to access the Internet and the HAMMER System is activated, all 11,000 members will be automatically re-directed to a single web page the next time they refresh their web browser. The web page might contain information on a severe weather event, national crisis or other dangerous event on the University campus.

 

As part of the Freenet-Kids project, the organization would coordinate the use of the HAMMER system with city emergency services allowing them to implement the system in the event of an emergency.

Kansas Research and Education Network (KanREN)

As part of the Freenet-Kids initiative Lawrence Freenet will also provide a direct fiber-optic connection between the KanREN facility located at 1405 South Wakarusa and the Elsworth Annex on the campus of the University of Kansas. This connection will be used by KanREN to better serve universities and schools throughout the State of Kansas. It will also allow KanREN to improve services, reduce telecommunications cost and better serve the community.

 

Leased lines of this type would typically cost approximately $1,500 for each demarcation point. Bringing the total value contributed to KanREN to $3,000/Mo or $360,000 over 120 Months.

Financial Benefits

The total financial benefit to the City of Lawrence for guaranteeing Freenet's loan from a local lender is $12,280,000 over a 10 year period. This does not include difficult to quantify benefits like improved community access, improved education and a nation-wide reputation for being a leader in information technology.

 

Other hard to quantify benefits include:

 

Job Creation - The Lawrence Freenet Project would hire 17 additional full time staff to support the project. All of these staff members are paid well above the living wage and receive full medical and dental benefits.

 

Budgetary Offsets - By providing fiber-optic connectivity to traffic control signal, water department infrastructure and other hard assets, the Freenet-Kids initiative will enable the City of Lawrence to reduce planned expenditures. By reducing expenditures allocated to these types of projects, the City of Lawrence can cut its overall budgetary expenditures and save taxpayers money.

 

Increased Tax Base - Since Kansas Law does not have a category for "non-profit Internet Service Provider" Lawrence Freenet pays sales tax on all equipment sales.

 

Public School Equipment - As part of its proposal, Lawrence Freenet will provide 375 ($75,000) in free laptops to children within the community each year for 10 years.

 

The figure below shows a graphical representation of the proposed economic development arrangement.

 

Financial Benefits of Lawrence Freenet Proposal

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