Smart City takes Holistic Approach to Convention Center Communications Infrastructure

Venue Analysis, Industry Expertise Drive Network Implementation

When faced with the question of how to provide wireless network coverage for thousands of trade show visitors, vendors and seminar presenters, most vendors have only one answer: “Add more access points.”

Smart City Networks takes a different approach.

“There’s been a lot of buzz and misinformation in the digital infrastructure industry that when it comes to access points, if a few are good, more must be better. That is not necessarily true,” says David Langford, Smart City’s vice president of technology. “In fact, adding more access points without a proper design is a waste of money and may do more harm than good.”

To avoid that scenario, Smart City starts with a comprehensive analysis of local conditions and the venue layout. This includes diagramming the heaviest traffic patterns, identifying frequent congregation areas and examining the types of events (trade shows, meetings, conventions, etc.) typically hosted. From there, the company applies the knowledge it has garnered over three decades of designing, building, implementing and managing wireless arrays.

“We have more data on network usage than any other company in our market,” Langford said. “Our engineers have designed and operated more wireless networks in hospitality venues than any other company in the world, giving them the insight required to customize the telecommunications protocols that best meets the unique usage needs of each of our convention facility partners.”

Combining detailed local knowledge and vast institutional experience enables Smart City to design cost-effective networks that support uninterrupted digital services while minimizing cross-channel interference that can result from excessive and disorganized access points.

This expertise has been on display over the past two years, as Smart City earned contract renewals with several convention venues throughout the country. That run of new business included installation of upgraded high-density wireless capabilities at three of the most prominent venues on the West Coast.

The company transformed the Anaheim Convention Center into one of the most technologically advanced venues in the nation with a design that included a Cisco array setup previously only used in stadiums and over 700 access points. Smart City’s first high-density deployment includes 10-gigabit internet capability. That increased bandwidth will be needed to handle the high-capacity demands of convention center events such as BlizzCon’s showcase of its Warcraft, StarCraft, Diablo, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch video game franchises.

At the Washington State Convention Center in Seattle, Smart City implemented a high-density network of Xirrus arrays in time to accommodate the 2,800 users, at the 2015 PASS Summit, showcasing SQL server capabilities and business intelligence training. And as part of a 10-year contract at the San Diego Convention Center, home of the iconic Comic-Con celebration of comic books and other popular culture icons, Smart City added new fiber infrastructure, new core and edge switches and almost 900 Cisco access points, among other network upgrades. Dual 10 Gigabit internet capability and other redundant features were included in Seattle and San Diego as well.

“All these projects offered their own unique challenges,” noted Smart City President Mark Haley. “Every building was different, and there are no off-the-shelf solutions. Fortunately, our thorough knowledge of specifications and application design is rooted in our deep understanding of the hospitality industry. We are able to transfer experiences from venue to venue, proactively addressing ever-changing customer needs.”