This multi-part series about connectivity will shed some light on the multifaceted challenges you need to overcome to provide a solid Internet connection for all your visitors. Part I was mostly about the general approach and to give a technology overview. If you have any specific questions about connectivity, you would like us to write about, please feel free to comment on this article and we will try to answer these questions. In this second part of the series, I want to talk more about WiFi in museums.
We are accustomed to having WiFi at home. It’s an easy and convenient way to hook up all the devices that require an internet connection – our laptops, smartphones, internet radios, internet TV, and, most recently, even our thermostats (http://www.nest.com).
Our home networks are (or should be) encrypted using the so called WPA2 standard (for the interested reader who wants to know more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wi-Fi_Protected_Access). Meaning, every device connecting to our router must send the password in order to get network access. Most people forget that they have entered this password into their various devices at some point, because it gets stored locally on the devices. Be assured, it is there and keeps your home network safe from neighbors who don’t have their own broadband internet connection and like to use yours.
A publicly available network or open network in a museum is a different sort of thing. You would like to grant access to the network without your visitors having to enter passwords, etc. Also the amount of devices connecting to your network will probably exceed the number of devices you have at home by orders of magnitude.
For easy setups with off-the-shelf WiFi routers, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is the broadband connection good enough to be shared with a lot of people? Think of all these smartphones as small computers (that’s what they really are).
- Do you need a separate WiFi network for your operations that is decoupled from your public network? You don’t want people to browse through the shared documents that are shared between your staff, do you?
- How much streaming content are you offering to your visitors? If you have very video-heavy applications, be prepared to have the bandwidth available.
- How big is my museum? How thick are the walls? Can I get access from each and every corner of my museum?
If you want to get a little more sophisticated with your WiFi setup, you should check out high-power indoor Wifi devices such as the ECB3500 from Engenius.
Also, be aware that you can extend existing WiFi networks with additional routers to cover the more difficult spots in your location. If you have any questions regarding WiFi setups, you can also contact us at www.toursphere.com/contact to discuss your specific situation.