South Australian-based networking firm MIMP Computer Cable has completed a Big Brother-style wireless network at Adelaide Zoo in a move that has set new precedents for wireless technology.
In exchange for its regular donation, MIMP elected to upgrade the Adelaide Zoo's age-old network. The company selected wireless as the most practical model because of the site's heritage listing.
The integrator installed Web cameras inside enclosures, which are supported by an 11Mbps network that allows anyone with an appropriately configured notebook or handheld computer to obtain information about animals from in front of the enclosures.
The "ZooNet" infrastructure also allows external access, offering a "Virtual Zoo" over the Web. People from anywhere in the world can take a virtual tour of the zoo.
"It was a pretty big task to get through the trees," said MIMP general manager, Allan Aitchison. "The only barrier for radio frequency is water and the leaves have lots of water in them, so we had to set up aerials. Because of the heritage listing we were only allowed one aerial per building, which meant we had to get two separate networks off the one antenna."
MIMP succeeded in overlaying a roaming network on top of the administrative network, a physically impossibility according to wireless component manufacturer Enterasys. "They came and told us it wasn't physically possible because it's not documented anywhere," said Aitchison. "We've created a model with their technology that they didn't know was possible."
The model's success is raking in business for MIMP, with Melbourne, Perth and Sydney's Taronga Zoos all expressing interest in installing the wireless solution.
"We've made $200,000 from this in wireless sales in the Adelaide region," Aitchison said. "It's like an advertising opportunity for ourselves."
The project has become a platform for a myriad of other sub-groups that are continuing to expand the services on offer, such as throwing in a free Internet service especially targeted at tourists that has the dual capacity of attracting people to the zoo while showcasing MIMP's network model.
MIMP plans to use the Adelaide site as a training centre for internal programs and future projects.