Project Management

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Sectors Wireless
Contact David Witkowski

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While Public Wi-Fi deployments differ in purpose, reason, and size from agency to agency, the need for solid project management is consistent across the board. The collective ideas in this section provide a modular project management approach by breaking groups of task areas into milestone clusters.

While Public Wi-Fi deployments differ in purpose, reason, and size from agency to agency, the need for solid project management is consistent across the board. The collective ideas in this section provide a modular project management approach by breaking groups of task areas into milestone clusters.

Agencies looking for specific aspects and considerations to Public Wi-Fi implementation can leverage individual, parts of and/or all segments of this guide to fulfill their Public Wi-Fi implementation needs. The type of Public Wi-Fi program and system covered in this document is presumed to be commercial and industrial grade, as opposed to consumer grade, for commercial grade has a greater robustness for interior and exterior Public Wi-Fi design.

Each milestone cluster will include practical and relevant examples, templates, and worksheets that can be readily adopted by agencies using this blueprint document. These can be found in the Project Management Supplemental Materials at the end of this section.

Milestone 1 – The Decision Process: Crafting the Project Proposal

  • Basic Requirements
  • Cost Analysis
  • Justifications for Public Wi-Fi (Use Cases)
Milestone 2 – Planning and Pre-Staging: Site Selection & Agreements
  • Site Selection
  • Pre-Staging Agreements
Milestone 3 – Project Execution
  • Site Pre-Execution
  • Procurement
  • Site Execution
  • Optional Execution Activities

Supplemental Materials

  • Basic Requirements Worksheet
  • Cost Analysis Worksheet
  • Justifications Worksheet
  • Internet Bandwidth Estimator Chart
  • Full Project Proposal Example Template
  • Site Identification Worksheet
  • Site Inspection Checklist
  • Site Qualification/Finalization Worksheet
  • Public Wi-Fi Terms of Use Sample
  • Public Wi-Fi Project Management GANNT Charts

Milestone 1 – The Decision Process: Crafting the Project Proposal

The first milestone in a Public Wi-Fi project is the crafting and finalizing the Project Proposal. Following our modular project management approach, this document will be used to gain approval (and funding) from executive sponsors to proceed with the project. A strong Public Wi-Fi proposal must address at least three main considerations: A) Basic Requirements; B) Cost Analysis; and C) Project ustification.

These three considerations are described below.

Basic Requirements for a Public Wi-Fi Program

(See Supplemental Materials Section for Basic Requirement Worksheet Template)

There are two basic requirements to determine if a Public Wi-Fi Program is technically feasible: 1) internet service; and 2) Wi-Fi implementation expertise. These can each be accomplished in several ways.

Internet Service Provider Availability

It is important to note that if ISP services are not available – and the Public Wi-Fi project cannot continue as a result – this is an issue that falls under the umbrella of “Digital Divide.” Legislators at the state and federal level have debated this topic, with common ideas such as infrastructure bills to fund construction for underserved and unserved communities. If your jurisdiction is in such a situation, persistent outreach to your legislators should be ongoing for them to recognize the need and feasibility to bridge this divide.

A Public Wi-Fi program must have internet services available from an Internet Service Provider (ISP). Put another way, lack of an ISP will curtail any Public Wi-Fi program. An ISP could be your telecom/telephone provider, cable/television service provider, or any service provider that provides commercial/industrial grade internet service. Once ISPs are identified, it needs to be determined if they have services at the site where the Public Wi-Fi program is proposed be installed. If the services are available, the speed and adequacy need to be vetted or amended for the appropriateness of the Public Wi-Fi program. If the ISP is not directly at the site location, fiber Backhaul services to connect internet services from a central location to the proposed site can be one option, while another option is to use wireless backhaul over moderate unobstructed line-of-site distances.

Assuming internet service is available and the project can proceed, the speed of the internet services should be vetted. This will depend on how many average connections per hour that the system would need to scale towards. A good rule of thumb would be 1 Mbps per active user per hour – e.g., if the system needs to scale upwards to a maximum of 50 active users per hour then a 50 Mbps connection would be the minimum bandwidth. The activity rate (i.e., how much internet data a user consumes) of users connecting to the internet would typically be between 2% to 5% and high activity would come closer to 10%. Hence, a 50 Mbps system can handle populations of 500 (10% usage rate) to 2,500 (2% usage rate). (See Supplemental Materials Section for Bandwidth Estimation Chart).

Important questions to ask:
  • Are Internet Services available?
  • Is an ISP logistically near to deliver Internet services?
  • Can you leverage an existing municipal Internet connection?

Implementation Expertise

Wi-Fi implementation experts have specialized experiences and skill sets in deploying Public Wi-Fi systems. While most experienced network engineers have the same ability in physically deploying these systems, Wi-Fi implementation specialists leverage tools to measure RF signals for directional strength and have greater experience in specialized tools that work to optimize Wi-Fi signal delivery for all scales of implementation. The agencies who participated in the GCTC workshop had all engaged contraction Wi-Fi implementation specialists to work on their Public Wi-Fi implementations. While this is not an inference that an agency must use an implementation expert, the GCTC team recognizes the value and efficiencies from the use of such specialized resources.

Important questions to ask:
  • Should the agency contract with Wi-Fi implementation specialists?
  • Can the agency leverage In-house technical specialists?
  • How can in-house specialists be developed?
    • Send in-house staff to specialized training.
    • Recruiting in-house Wi-Fi implementation specialists.

Cost Analysis of Public Wi-Fi Program

Here are some general guidelines:
  • Planning Estimates
    • Small Scale – from 50 to 100 hours
    • Typical – from 100 to 200 hours
    • Large Site – from 300 to 600 hours
  • Public Wi-Fi Per Site Estimates
    • Small Scale – from 50 to 100 hours
    • Typical – from 100 to 200 hours
    • Large Site – from 300 to 600 hours

Capital Costs

The capital cost of the Public Wi-Fi project must be estimated in order to complete a final draft of the Project Proposal. While these costs vary greatly, the GCTC team has identified some overall ballpark figures that can provide an idea of Public Wi-Fi costs.

A simple small-scale Public Wi-Fi system that has minimal coverage (small public facility), and requires few equipment (e.g., one ISP line, one access point, etc.) could be US$10,000 or less. Meanwhile large- scale systems that span multiple sites (e.g., a library, city hall, community center, etc.), and that require additional cabling and/or fiber/wireless backhaul, with many access points could cost between US$25,000 to US$50,000 per site or more. (The numbers given are purely ballpark estimates and actual project costs will vary greatly. See Supplemental Materials Section for Cost Analysis Worksheet Template)

Ongoing costs

It is important to note that on top of the capital costs associated with deploying a Public Wi-Fi system, there are also ongoing and agency staff costs (which can sometimes be hidden if not fully recognized before deployment). These can include:

  • Internet Service Provider Costs (i.e., monthly bandwidth)
  • System and Equipment Support Costs (i.e., technical support and maintenance)

Agency Staff Time & Support Hours

An agency should plan for staff time required to maintain and support the Wi-Fi system. For example, the County of San Mateo’s annual implementation of twelve sites averages 1,300 to 1,500 hours of agency staff time and falls into typical site implementation hours.

Justifications for Public Wi-Fi Program

(See Supplemental Materials Section for JUSTIFICATIONS Worksheet Template)

Agencies proposing to engage in Public Wi-Fi implementation do so with a purpose that provides added value, fulfill service needs, look to solve problems, or any combination of these three. Such justifications fall into several categories and are covered in-depth in the Use Cases & Outcomes section of this blueprint.

However, in the project management templates in the Appendix, we have outlined four primary purposes identified by participants from the GCTC Public Wi-Fi Workshop that agencies should consider in justifying for a Public Wi-Fi program. Please note that the justification for implementing a Public Wi-Fi program may change once data is collected and adaptations are made to optimize the program to fit the model that works for the agency.

With this section complete a full project proposal can be drafted (See Supplemental Materials Section for PROJECT PROPOSAL FULL SAMPLE TEMPLATE).

Milestone 2 – Planning and Pre-Staging

The Planning and Pre-Staging section divides into two phases: 1) Site Selection; and 2) Pre-Staging Agreements. Site Selection has two components: Identification, which focuses on compiling a list of sites and Assessment, which details qualifying the sites. The Agreements section focuses on the contracts and arrangements that must be in place with vendors, host sites, and suppliers.

Site Selection

Site Identification

The below guideline is intended to help factor the types of sites by assessing their viability. The subsequent list can be generally applied to any municipality and is based on our research of commonly used Public Wi-Fi sites and attributes.

Common Types of Public Sites for a Wi-Fi Deployment

  • Civic – City Hall and or Civic Center
  • Civic – Community Centers and Facilities
  • Civic – Publicly Accessible Agency Facilities
  • Civic – Recreation and/or Park Facility
  • Education – Publicly Accessible Education Facilities
  • Education – Library Facility
  • Housing Oriented – Underserved Housing Complex
  • Business Oriented – Business District/Shopping Center
  • Business Oriented – Downtown District
  • Business Oriented – Meeting or Convening Facility

Important Questions to ask:

  • Does site have regular people/foot traffic and common areas to sit (e.g., tables, benches, etc.)?
  • Does site have access to an internet Backhaul or Service?
  • Does site have power resources and appropriate areas for equipment?

Site Assessment

Once the first draft of a Sites Identification Checklist (a/k/a Compiled List of Sites) is complete (See Supplemental Materials Section for COMPILED LIST OF SITES TEMPLATE) , the next steps would be to perform Site Assessments to qualify the sites. The Site Assessment process may also disqualify unsuitable sites.

Due to the length of some lists, the Site Inspection can take sufficient time and may span require visits and traveling is the sites are far apart. Time wise, a single site inspection may take half a day to a full day.

Site Inspection

A Site Inspection will collect information for assessing the viability of the site. The below criteria represent the basic requirements. Agencies can amend the criteria to fit their objectives (See Supplemental Materials Section for SITE INSPECTION WORKSHEET).


  • Total Coverage Area of Wi-Fi Site (Dimensions)
    • Number of WAPs and Backhauling or Meshing for WAPs
  • Appropriate Facility Site(s) for WAP(s)
    • Power at each WAP designation
    • Construction if required
  • Site Use Approval Requirements
    • Site authority permission.
  • Estimated Cost of Equipment and Backhauling Construction
    • Total estimate costs. If the site implementation exceeds the capital expenditures threshold, the decision needs to be made for qualifying this assessment.

Finalize Site Selection

Finalizing the Site Selection is to narrow the list specific to sites that can be completed in the current program year or later program years. The system for prioritizing the sites come from the site assessment and any criteria established for the process (See Supplemental Materials Section for FINALIZE SITE SELECTION WORKSHEET).

Pre-Staging Agreements

The Pre-Staging Agreements within Milestone 2 cluster focuses on preparing agreements before the actual execution of site implementations, which will be detailed in Milestone 3. This section covers three subsections:

  1. Terms of Use
  2. Site Use Agreement
  3. Vendor Agreements.

Terms of Use Consideration (See Supplemental Materials Section for TERMS OF USE EXAMPLE)

Agencies may consider whether or not to employ Terms of Use (TOU) disclaimers as part of their Public Wi-Fi implementation. This topic is discussed more in the Technology Section of this blueprint. But for the purpose of the Project Management section, the purpose of the disclaimer is to serve as an agreement between the prospective end-user and the Public Wi-Fi system so that they will not use the system for unlawful or inappropriate means. Consulting with legal counsel on the appropriate language that’s specific to the agency’s jurisdiction is highly recommended. Below are suggested inclusions for the TOU. Agencies can customize TOU’s to fit the legal requirements of their jurisdiction.

  • Use agreement for users of the system within legal statutory requirements of the agency’s jurisdiction.
  • Owner of system and exclusive rights of owners to control access to system.
  • Disclaimer on lawful use of system.
  • Disclaimer on any warranties to user.

Site Use Agreement

Site Use Agreements are required when implementing Public Wi-Fi on a site that is not owned by the agency. Site Use Agreements provide clear understanding between the site owner and the agency on the responsibilities of the parties on the Public Wi-Fi system. This section provides the minimum guidelines to consider for preparing Site Use Agreements. These agreements should be composed by the agency’s legal department to comply with the existing laws of the agency’s jurisdiction.

Below are the minimum requirements to include for the Site Use Agreement. Agencies may customize the agreements to comply with existing laws in their jurisdictions and/or appropriate requirements allowable for the agency to place.

  • Title of Agreement for Equipment Placement and Site Usage
  • Recitals for clarity
    • Background Summary of the agency’s Public Wi-Fi Program
    • Equipment placement on owner’s premises
    • Owner’s support of Public Wi-Fi program (site and power)
  • Terms of Site Use Agreement
    • Mutual Placement of Equipment and Support (power subsidies)
    • Terms
      • Effective time of agreement
      • Site owner’s termination requirements
      • Agency’s termination requirements
    • Payments
      • No fees, rents or reimbursements from parties
      • Owner to provide electrical power for Wi-Fi equipment
    • Access to Premises – clarity on access definitions
      • Conditions of Access to Premises
    • Installation by whom and compliance with applicable laws
    • Maintenance and Repair – owned by agency
    • Liens – Agency’s commitment to keep owner free from Liens as a result of Public Wi-Fi system
    • Waiver of Claims and Indemnification
      • Owner’s Indemnity
      • Agency’s Indemnity
    • Removal of Equipment
  • Notices Requirements
  • Signature Page for parties to sign

Services Agreements

The last stage of Pre-Staging Agreements would be to confirm the agreements with the professional service vendors who perform the implementations, provide the ongoing system support services, and provide the internet service. These Services Agreements need to be pre-staged and signed for service delivery.

Each agency may have different requirements for services request such as Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Quote (RFQ), etc. This blueprint focuses on the services that need to be requested and not on processes specific to each agency. There are three services that are required at a minimum but Agencies may consider other Service Agreements as optional to meet their needs or requirements.

  • Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist Service
  • Ongoing Wi-Fi Service and Support
  • ISP Service
  • Optional Service Agreements to Consider

Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist Service

While some larger agencies may have internal resources with the skill sets to implement Public Wi-Fi systems, the blueprint highlights the fact that Wi-Fi Implementation Specialists specialize in this type of work and the cost savings of leveraging their services will generally provide significant savings for agencies. The Service Agreements for Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist Service must be confirmed and signed to complete Milestone 2.

Ongoing Wi-Fi Service and Support

Public Wi-Fi systems require ongoing monitoring, servicing and support on a 24x7 basis unless not required by the agency – this is highly unlikely since the system is public facing. A well monitored, serviced and supported Public Wi-Fi system has optimal uptime. While larger agencies may have the appropriate staffing to perform 24x7, maintaining 24x7 staffing resources may not be cost effective unless the Public Wi-Fi system is within a large municipality with a few hundred sites requiring dedicated and consistent monitoring. Some Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist vendors have these services as an offering or can provide referral to vendors specializing in 24x7 monitoring, servicing and support. The Service Agreements for Ongoing Wi-Fi Service and Support must be confirmed and signed to complete Milestone 2 but can be done incrementally during Milestone 3.

ISP Service

Identifying the backhaul sources was the initial consideration in Milestone 1. If the agency has pre- existing ISP services, adding more services at different sites through the same ISP may provide negotiation advantages for volume services procurement. For completely new services, the agency may engage in new RFPs or RFQs. If the goal is to continue the Public Wi-Fi program for multiple years, the new RFP/RFQ process may also have negotiation advantages. The Service Agreements for ISP Services must be confirmed and signed to complete Milestone 2.

Optional Service Agreements to Consider

Other Optional Service Agreements to consider are for the purpose of leveraging tools to add value to the program.

  • Data Platform to capture metrics for reporting
  • Dashboard and Monitoring Management System
  • Security Platform to secure devices connecting to Public Wi-Fi system
  • Filtering and Site Restriction Platform to block sites
  • Public Private Partnerships to fund Public Wi-Fi System
  • Subscription Management System to register user access

Milestone 3 – Project Execution

Site Pre-Execution is the first stage to Milestone 3’s Project Execution. Two actions need to occur to prepare sites for implementation:

  • Site Use Approval
  • Design Assessment

Site Use Approval

The Site Use Approval document covered in Milestone 2 is used to secure the site between the agency and the site owner for implementation. This document needs to be signed and appropriately filed by the parties before proceeding to Design Assessment. This can take anywhere from a week to a month subject to the availability of the Site Owner and can be done concurrently with the Design Assessment.

Design Assessment

The Design Assessment is an action that is to be performed by the Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist Vendor. They are to define the Scope of Work and determine the Equipment Procurement Requirements. Experienced Wi-Fi Implementation Specialists are efficient in these assessments and can accomplish typical implementations within two weeks and very large implementations within a month.

Scope of Work – Professional Services

The Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist performs the site visit to define the Scope of Work. This scope of work will provide the following services.

  • Coordinate the ISP services construction and installation
  • Scope the site facility for appropriate electrical power
  • Scope the site facility for equipment connectivity wire installs
  • Scope the site facility for optimal Wi-Fi Access Points location installation
  • Scope the equipment and software license procurement requirements

Equipment and Services Procurement Order

The scope of work will include all equipment and services (software) for the Public Wi-Fi installation. This will be within the same time frame as the Scope of Work.

Procurement (for Project Management)

Procurement is covered in more depth in the Procurement section of this blueprint. However, for the purposes of Project Management, it will be covered in two areas, defined below.

  1. Contract Submission
  2. Equipment Purchase Submission

Contract Submission

The Scope of Work from the Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist is submitted subsequent to the Design Assessment. Terms of Payment are generally pre-negotiated with respect to payments for services rendered – e.g. Net 15, Net 30, etc. This must comply with the agency’s payment policy for services rendered or to be rendered. In special cases, partial payment may be a condition of services to be rendered may be a factor which can extend timelines.

Equipment Purchase Submission

The Design Assessment produces the equipment purchase requirements that need to be compiled for the agency’s procurement submission process. Allocating one to two months for submission, processing and receiving equipment is allocated to the project timeline.

Site Execution

Site Execution is the process of executing the site installation with the Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist. Site Execution with an experienced Implementation Specialist can take a week to a month depending on the scale of the scope of work. Typical installations may take one or two weeks while large installations may take a full month with appropriate scheduling. The steps are outlined below.

  1. Scheduling
  2. Construction Staging
  3. Implementation
  4. Closing
  5. Other Considerations

Site Execution – Scheduling

The Scheduling function will be where the project manager involves all the key stakeholders on the implementation (site owner and Wi-Fi implementation specialists). This scheduling which covers all the Site Execution functions may take a week to a full month as noted above. Scheduling scopes the time frames required for Construction Staging, Implementation, and Closing the Site Execution.

Site Execution – Construction Staging

Construction Staging is the process of physically preparing the site for the Public Wi-Fi equipment and services. The amount of work for construction staging is pre-defined by the Design Assessment. This includes bringing in the ISP services, drawing in the networking communications lines, and establishing needed equipment power lines for the WAPs.

Site Execution – Implementation

Implementation is the installation and activation of the WAPs that enables the Public Wi-Fi system to go live. This process includes validating the WAPs through extensive Wi-Fi signal testing leveraging download and upload tools by the Wi-Fi Implementation Specialist and the Agency’s project specialist to confirm the system.

Site Execution – Closing

Closing is the agency’s sign-off process after the site has been extensively tested and confirmed fully functional. The documentation process may include the test results and confirmation statements from the agency’s project specialist. This would include the documents signed by the agency and the Ongoing Services and Support for the Public Wi-Fi System.

Site Execution – Other Considerations

Other Considerations may be the Optional Service Agreements for consideration noted at the end of Milestone 2. These may add to the timeline if these options are part of the Site Execution.

  • Data Platform to capture metrics for reporting
  • Dashboard and Monitoring Management System
  • Security Platform to secure devices connecting to Public Wi-Fi system
  • Filtering and Site Restriction Platform to block sites
  • Public Private Partnerships to fund Public Wi-Fi System
  • Subscription Management System to register user access

Optional Execution Activities

Optional Execution Activities are activities that have no impact to the Public Wi-Fi site implementation but may have impact to the use and performance of the Public Wi-Fi system. This covers activities that work to promote the implemented Public Wi-Fi site and system. These are optional activities and are not part of the blueprint timelines but may be integrated if so chosen by the agency looking to promote and spur usage.

  1. Site Communications and Promotion
  2. Site Programming

Site Communications and Promotion

Site Communications and Promotion activities should be planned after a Public Wi-Fi site implementation has gone live. This works to create public awareness of the site’s added value to the facility or community the site will be serving. This may involve creating or updating the agency’s website to promote the location as having Public Wi-Fi service. Other communications mediums may be leveraging social media, news print, blogs, etc.

  • Agency Website
  • Social Media
  • News Media
  • Blogs
  • Promotional Material

Site Programming

Site Programming engages the site for use of the Public Wi-Fi system. Examples include Hackathons, Coding Camps, Online Learning, etc. Programming depends on the type of facility so other Public Wi-Fi examples could be Little League Parks where participants leverage scoring applications from their mobile devices or visual equipment to stream live action to those wishing to view the activities.

  • Social Technology
    • Hackathons
    • Coding Camps
    • Online Learning
    • Online Job Placements
  • Activity and Streaming
    • Little League Scoring
    • Live Streaming