As Westminster City Council prepares to expand its Wi-Fi enabled CCTV camera network, the local authority has pleaded for the ability to offer commercial services to the public.
After a trial in a small part of Soho, Westminster is expanding an ambitious plan for a Wi-Fi network of CCTV cameras across a major part of the London Borough of Westminster (more details in this article) which will also support mobile council workers, cleaning services, parking, traffic and police work.
However, while there's plenty of bandwidth, the service won't have the thing you might expect - especially in an area with plenty of office workers - public Internet access. The network is not even connected to the Internet, only to the Council's corporate network, and the reason is that regulations prevent the Council using its lamp-posts to run commercial services.
"There are Government restrictions on the use of our infrastructure for commercial gain," said Simon Norbury, director of Information Communications Technology at Westminster. "We do have some ideas, but they rely on the Government changing its legislation."
Westminster says the system cuts the cost of CCTV by as much as 80 percent - but putting pressure to change this regulation may be of greater long-term significance. "I think this may be a lobbying platform as much as a technology platform," said Dean Bubley of Disruptive Analysis - who also points out he is a Westminster resident.