Oklahoma State Fair Park upgrades to 802.11ac Wi-Fi with Aruba Networks
Oklahoma’s premier public venue will bring Aruba Networks' Wi-Fi to 2 million visitors annually, while employing a new mobile app for vendors and visitors of its 200 annual events.
Aruba Networks, an HP company (NYSE: HPQ) announced that the 435-acre State Fair Park (SFP) in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, is using Aruba’s Gigabit wireless infrastructure to bring high-speed mobility to over two million visitors and vendors of the approximately 200 events it manages each year. For the 802.11ac Wi-Fi upgrade, SFP is using a full suite of Aruba solutions, including the ClearPass Policy Management platform, which provides secure authentication and onboarding of mobile devices for SFP’s employees, vendors and guests, as well as the Meridian Mobile App Platform for SFP’s new mobile app, launched in September of 2014.
Best known for the Oklahoma State Fair, the SFP facility also acts as a Large Public Venue (LPV) catering to tourism, that hosts numerous events each week for a variety of vendors and their visitors. The SFP is a significant contributor to Oklahoma City’s economy, generating more than $300 million in direct spending for the city.
"SFP’s previous infrastructure, which combined multiple, disparate systems, wasn’t conducive to mobility and couldn’t keep up with the needs of the organization," states an Aruba Networks press release. "For internal operations, SFP needed to allow employees to remain productive as they move throughout the organization’s 435 acres and 28 structures. SFP also needed reliable wireless connectivity to enable the ticket office to scan tickets at the gates, allow food service operations to conduct Point-of-Sales (PoS) transactions and connect guard shacks for security operations. SFP’s event vendors and visitors were also increasingly demanding reliable, high-speed wireless connectivity and the organization’s previous system required visitors to walk to the SFP offices to obtain an access code for the network, which was both inefficient and inconvenient for the guests."
The press release continues, "Working with partner, RFIP, Inc., of Oklahoma City, SFP evaluated a number of solutions and ultimately, selected Aruba Networks for a complete network upgrade. SFP deployed Aruba’s 220 Series indoor and 270 Series outdoor 802.11ac access points, the 7200 Series Mobility Controllers, Mobility Access Switches, AirWave network management and the ClearPass Policy Management platform. The organization also implemented Aruba’s Meridian Mobile App platform to create the Oklahoma State Fair App, which gives visitors State Fair Park information and enhanced capabilities including navigation to direct them to areas of interest such as concessions."
“With our new Aruba infrastructure, we now have reliable, high-speed coverage across all of our buildings and a large portion of our grounds and barn facilities,” said Jason Eddy, VP of Information Technology for SFP. “Many of the issues we were having went away, public usage of the network has increased and I rarely get any support calls now.”
Eddy also noted that AirWave is critical for SFP’s one-person IT department. “While we still have assistance from our partner, RFIP, on the management front, I use AirWave for visibility into network usage – to determine if there’s a load on the system, where and how people are connecting and which devices are being used. I love the visual RF and being able to quickly log in and see all of the APs and how many devices are connecting to them, and to detect any rogue APs. AirWave is really where I spend most of my time.”
Aruba says the SFP has also found its ClearPass technology to be a crucial tool for securely onboarding and authenticating devices on the network and in particular, allowing guests to connect without the inconvenience of obtaining a login code from the SFP offices. The organization currently offers different levels of access and different plans for vendors and exhibitors who typically require access for substantial periods, and for the public who typically just need access for a few hours.
Future plans include better mobile engagement for visitors. SFP recognizes the potential of its mobile app to provide visitors with valuable information, and they are considering the addition of Aruba Beacons to help deliver more location and contextual information. They are also evaluating how the combination of ClearPass, the Meridian Mobile App Platform and Beacons can allow for advertising and push notifications, specifically as value-add for their vendors.
“A good example of where we could utilize push notifications is the Oklahoma City Home and Garden Show,” said Scott Munz, VP of Marketing and Public Relations for SFP. “It’s managed by a national company that does Home and Garden Shows across the country and has hundreds of vendors. It would be great if one of their vendors could push notifications out to visitors as they enter the specific building where the vendor is located, offering 10 percent off all purchases if they come in and buy within a specific timeframe. That’s just one example of where we can take the mobile app now that we have the Aruba infrastructure in place.”
In late Spring 2016, SFP also plans to open a new 290,000-square foot Expo Center which will include just over 200,000 square feet of contiguous floor space, as well as kitchen and catering facilities, a lobby, box office and meeting rooms. According to Munz, the new building will allow SFP to house a new level of tradeshows and flat-floor shows. The building is already under construction and SFP plans to expand their current Aruba network into the new space.
“Ultimately, we want to provide a state-of-the-art experience at State Fair Park,” said Munz. “To do that, we need to provide specific amenities and meet certain expectations. The Aruba infrastructure has definitely delivered the foundation we need to accomplish this. By providing high quality Wi-Fi, ensuring secure device onboarding and offering better engagement through the mobile app, we’re well on our way to achieving our goals.”
To learn more, visit Aruba at www.arubanetworks.com. For the latest technical discussions on mobility and Aruba products, visit the company's Airheads Social online community at http://community.arubanetworks.com.