Bellevue is the state of Washington’s fifth largest city, with a population of more than 140,000. Home to Microsoft and other high-tech corporations, Bellevue prides itself on having up-to-date city services and technology in its public facilities. One example is its 650,000-square foot City Hall complex, which includes office space for some 900 employees and an attached parking structure.
Bellevue took over an existing building in 2005 as the site of its new City Hall. As part of the retrofitting process, the city had a coax-based amplifier system installed in order to comply with International Fire Code regulations. Designed to support just two frequencies, the system they installed didn’t provide strong public safety coverage in the basement and other below-grade levels of the building, nor in most of the parking garage. Plus, it supported only one band of commercial cellular traffic in only parts of the building. When the carrier phased out the supported cellular frequency after a few years, the building’s workers were left without cellular coverage in hard-to-reach places.
“Providing public safety radio and cellular services throughout the building by leveraging our existing fiber-optic investments and getting away from the traditional coax-based system was important to us,” said Jim Rawley, Network Systems and Security Lead in the City of Bellevue IT Department.
WilsonPro’s wideband distributed wireless platform supports frequencies from 150 to 2700 MHz, so it easily handled Bellevue’s public safety and commercial cellular traffic. The city installed the WilsonPro solution without disruption to the existing Public Safety First Responder Radio solution in the building, and added support for Verizon Wireless, the carrier used by most of their police, fire, and other personnel. The city integrated several new services into the new WilsonPro system by simply “plugging” them into the Primary Hub—no new hardware required. “For the EMS radio frequency, we’re covering areas we never have before, which gives us a lot of peace of mind given today’s security concerns. We also provided increased cell coverage and got many thanks from people in the lower levels of the building who had never had cellular coverage before,” Rawley said.