Soon, Wi-Fi will follow residents anywhere they go on campus here at Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge.
That means they can go anywhere indoors, and the signal to their smartphones, tablets and laptops will follow them. “All of the highly populated areas will be covered,” said Information Technology Director Tony Marbury. And not just your standard Wi-Fi, but a campuswide system with Wi-Fi 6 dual-band functionality, which “prioritizes data so you can work faster.”
And that means more than convenience, it’s staying connected.
Bruce Chase, chairman of the Technology Committee of the Residents’ Association, calls it “An enabling technology. By itself, it is just a convenience,” but it offers the opportunity to do many things.
It does the simple and obvious, like giving you remote access to your printer at home. But it can also provide for better safety for residents. It enables better use of electronic medical records. And if a resident should require assistance, a personal device such as an Apple Watch can detect an incident, and pinpoint where that person is within 15 to 20 feet.
Also, says Bruce, “If, God forbid, there was a fire,” it would be much easier to see where everyone was during the emergency, so all could be safely evacuated.
The system isn’t completely in place, says Tony. This phase is scheduled to be finished by the end of June, but he hopes the job is done faster. “I’d be surprised if we take so long.”
Then, in the new fiscal year, both Tony and Bruce hope the next stage of the vision can become reality – what they call true campuswide Wi-Fi. That would extend the coverage to the outdoor areas as well – which would in turn greatly increase safety.
To the tech-savvy folks on the Technology Committee, the next few months will mean real progress. Bruce says he hasn’t been without high-speed Wi-Fi personally, as he pays for it in his home. “It’s fine until I leave my apartment. But now, I’ll be able to carry that with me anywhere, and I never lose connection. It’s seamless.”
Bruce worked for DuPont for 34 years in Wilmington, Delaware, in the central research department. It was his job not only to think about today’s technological challenges, but to always be “looking ahead 20 years,” toward opportunities that didn’t even exist yet.
And in keeping with old habit, he looks forward to WCBR’s technological future as well. What does he see for later, once Wi-Fi is everywhere? Virtual Reality.
Right now, VR headsets are used mainly by younger people, and the potential for seniors has barely been thought about. Bruce looks ahead to headsets that “would allow our residents in Catered or Healthcare to explore the Grand Canyon, or dive on the reef off Australia.” Not only that, but groups would be able to do it together, allowing for social interaction that those with physical limitations are too often missing. Someone will say, “Take a look to the right,” and everyone can see the same thing when they do.
Those are the kinds of things the folks on the Technology Committee think about, and Bruce reports that Tony and his team do a “superb” job of helping turn it into reality.