2/2009

Internet bus showcases information technology

Netti-Nysse

The Internet bus Netti-Nysse visited, among others,
the Polish city of Lodz.

Netti-Nysse put the Web on wheels and took it to the people. The purpose of this mobile service is to encourage Internet use and computer literacy among the residents of Tampere, Finland. Basic instruction is free of charge.

The idea of the City of Tampere's Internet bus Netti-Nysse is to introduce information technology to the public. Clubs, societies, groups of neighbours - any group of people who want to learn to use computers and the Internet can book Netti-Nysse to come to their neighbourhood. Open courses are held in the bus.

Internet bus Netti-Nysse tours Europe

The purpose of Netti-Nysse's Europe tour in autumn 2009 was to introduce Netti-Nysse, its concept and technology, and the community network Wireless Tampere to Europe. Researcher Karri Huhtanen from TUT joined the team on the road as an IT specialist.

The tour was launched in Milan, where Netti-Nysse was showcased in an international library conference. The bus was used as a showroom to present Finland's library services and Tampere City Library to visitors.

The Netti-Nysse concept to teach basic computer and Internet skills to senior citizens proved popular among locals right from the start and inspired library professionals. The technology available to go online impressed audiences, and of course the big bus with its auditorium was a fine display of what team work can accomplish in Tampere.

"For example in Milan, Americans were amazed how such a small country as Finland is able to put together such brilliant concepts and services", Huhtanen says.

WHAT: Wireless Tampere

Wireless Tampere is a WLAN network community made up of the City of Tampere and surrounding municipalities. It offers a safe and fast access to the Internet regardless of the time and place.

With Wireless Tampere, individual users can extend the range of their home network to cover the entire city. Members of the community can access the Internet from their home, school, different government agencies and sports facilities, from all around the city centre as well as libraries and cafes.

Wireless Tampere is based on sharing. When users share their own wireless network and Internet connection with the community, they can roam into other members' WLAN networks free of charge. The number of access points is growing rapidly as new members join the community. Tampere University of Technology is actively involved in the continuously growing Wireless Tampere.

Community networks are scarce worldwide

During the Netti-Nysse tour, Huhtanen found it particularly interesting to test how wireless network technologies work in different countries and cities.

"We did not come across any community WLAN networks like Wireless Tampere on the road, at least not in places where we could have easily used them."

Although there were several commercial, open, and mistakenly open networks available along the route, the quality of the connection was mostly down to luck.

In Huhtanen's experience the size of the city, the large distance between service providers and also their attitudes may prevent the emergence of network communities.

"Somehow we got the feeling that the closer we came to Finland, the easier it was to find a proper connection."

The tour served to reinforce Huhtanen´s impression that in this field Finland is still going strong and the wireless networks available here are of a high standard in terms of reliability and usability.

"It also became clear that when we develop products and services for the global market, we need to take into consideration that the local networks may not always work as well as they should. Instead, we should always be prepared for network connections that are unreliable and may even drop from time to time".

 

Did you know?

Netti-Nysse features a Linux-based server that shares an Internet connection between the workstations in the bus and functions as a disk server. Netti-Nysse is able to utilize WLAN, @450 and 3G connections. In Finland, WLAN and @450 connections work best in the bus.

Text: Tarja Luukko
Photo: Karri Huhtanen

 

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