Technology and Wi-Fi Upgrade Enable New Access and Opportunity at the International Museum of Art & Science
Frontera Consulting of McAllen to improve visitor experience at IMAS using advanced technology from Ruckus Wireless and Extreme Networks
McAllen, Texas, September 7th, 2013 – The International Museum of Art & Science (IMAS) in McAllen, Texas, is breathing new life into the corridors of the museum. Using the latest in wireless and wired networking technology, Frontera Consulting of McAllen, designed and installed a system that will lay the foundation for updated exhibits, more interactivity, and support for the thousands of visitors per month with tablets, smartphones, and other connected devices.
With an estimated 7,000 visitors per month, including thousands of device carrying school children, simple and reliable internet access was fundamental to the growth of the museum. “Local school district initiatives have placed web-enabled devices in the hands of tens of thousands of children in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. By supplying ubiquitous wireless access across the museum grounds, we hope to engage the students using more interactive exhibits, access to the internet for research, and the ability to learn more about their experience through their mobile device or tablet,” said Kevin Graham, Technology Committee Chairman for IMAS. Submitting a generous donation for half of the equipment and installation services personally, Mr. Graham took the initiative to cornerstone the upgrade. “The generous actions of Mr. Graham have helped pave the way for the future growth of the museum and given us a much needed foundation for multimedia and interactive exhibits,” commented Juan Carlos Suarez, President of the IMAS Board of Directors.
In choosing Ruckus Wireless as a vendor for this project, IMAS is able to take advantage of high-data throughput from the wireless access points in high-density areas like the museum galleries and public spaces. “Any time you get hundreds of students carrying mobile devices or tablets in one place you begin to worry about the wireless network. With the proven track record of Ruckus Wireless in educational environments we knew we could handle the user density with no problems” said Darel Parker, Director of Services and Partner at Frontera Consulting of McAllen, the firm tasked with handling this project. “The existing exhibits, like View Space, the system that interfaces directly with the Hubble Telescope, and Science On a Sphere, require a dedicated amount of connectivity as well. Choosing a data switching solution from Extreme Networks provides up to a 10Gbps backbone throughout the museum allowing support for current and future exhibits” he continued. “We met with the museum to identify their needs and it was evident that they needed a technology upgrade. They were running off-the-shelf wireless access points, 10-year-old switches and routers, and were overpaying an IT consultant to work on simple break-fix solutions. We are very proud to be behind this solution for IMAS and to have a personal hand in delivering the ability to bring more high-quality interactive exhibits to the Rio Grande Valley”, he said.
“We are providing a better overall experience for our visitors, while at the same time getting the benefit of new technology to help us do our jobs more effectively and efficiently,” noted Leigh Wooldridge, Director of Visitor Experience at IMAS. “With this technology in place, we are able to focus on making the museum experience more robust and fulfilling for each visitor, without having to worry about how it’s all happening.” One of the key benefits of the new infrastructure is support for HotSpot 2.0, which allows users with supported devices to seamlessly roam from carrier networks to Wi-Fi networks. By enabling this technology, users inside the museum will no longer be reliant upon their mobile provider for data access, such as bandwidth-intensive interactive exhibits, uploading images, and communicating with others in the museum. This gives the museum the ability to utilize the extra speed and capacity of their own network to provide more interactivity without worrying about each user’s connection quality.
In addition to enhancing the visitor experience at the property, these new technology improvements will simultaneously streamline the operations workflow of the museum. Automated meters, sensors, video surveillance, security devices, mobile kiosks, asset tracking, and more, are now able to be located throughout the buildings and on the grounds. From wirelessly connected thermostats to motion detection sensors and inventory control for the exhibits, the museum is able to take advantage of this new wireless network using a multitude of devices that were previously thought of as inaccessible. These devices can increase security and efficiency while saving money because of the newly implemented infrastructure.
Regarding the project, Mr. Graham remarked, “Overall the goals of this project were to enhance the visitor experience, increase operations efficiency, build a technology base for the museum, and do it all at a budget that a non-profit could take advantage of. Through Frontera Consulting we exceeded those goals and blazed a pathway to serve the citizens and children in the City of McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley for many years to come.”
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