Naperville Park District

Monetizing Public Wi-Fi to Help Municipalities

Created by referendum in 1966, the Naperville, Illinois Park District is an independent municipal agency serving the recreation needs of its residents. The Naperville Park District’s mission is to provide recreation and park experiences that promote healthy lives, healthy minds and a healthy community.

The District maintains and operates more than 2,400 acres with 137 parks and facilities and provides more than 1,500 recreational, arts and environmental programs and special events annually. Included within the District’s operations are two championship golf courses; a multitude of playgrounds, trails, athletic courts and sports fields; Fort Hill Activity Center; Knoch Knolls Nature Center; two inline skating and skateboarding facilities; the Millennium Carillon; a paddleboat quarry; historic Centennial Beach; and the beautiful Riverwalk.

The Challenge

Wireless coverage in many of the parks was spotty or non-existent. Faced with frequent requests for Wi-Fi at its recreational and outdoor facilities, the park district looked into Wi-Fi for Centennial Beach & Rotary Hill, two of its most popular parks. The initial quote was $72,000 for equipment and Wi-Fi service for the first year alone. This was well beyond their available funding especially since they only expected to see around 4,000 devices during the three-month summer period in which the aquatic facility is most used.

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Requirements
  • The initial quote for just two parks was much higher than expected, and more than the Park District could pay. They decided to look for solutions that could reduce or offset the cost.
Solution
  • Expanded the initial deployment from two parks to eight in order to create a critical mass of end users
  • Provided a turn key end to end managed Wi-Fi service featuring Ruckus indoor and outdoor APs managed by a SmartZone controller
  • Implemented an innovative, multi-dimensional advertising model that fully funded the Naperville Park District Wi-Fi and operating costs
Benefits
  • Naperville Park District patrons are able to spend more time at the park since they can stay connected via Wi-Fi
  • The service was deployed at no cost to tax payers
  • The Ruckus Wi-Fi can easily be extended via meshing and can also support IP video and other applications
  • Powerful Wi-Fi analytics provide new insights to park management to optimize schedule and resource utilization, and to enhance program marketing activities
  • Planning on expanding Wi-Fi services to more parks this year