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Sarasota Thursday, Oct. 27, 2011 6 years ago

DID manager pushes wayfinding

by: Kurt Schultheis Senior Editor

Downtown Improvement District Operations Manager John Moran warned the DID Board of Directors that if it doesn’t move forward with a wayfinding Wi-Fi system soon, someone else in the city will.

At its Oct. 18 regular meeting, Moran explained that Delray Beach-based Blueweb Mobile Media, which has proposed a free Wi-Fi system at no cost to the city that includes up to a 20% revenue sharing agreement, is ready to build one for the city by the end of the month.

It would take 14 weeks to install a system, and if the DID doesn’t commit soon, Moran said Blueweb will move on to a different city or partner with another Sarasota organization to install the system here.

“The vendor can go to any other agency and do this,” Moran said. “There are no government approvals required to build it, and they (Blueweb) have a sense of urgency to start this.”

During the course of the meeting, Moran also divulged that he learned about the free Wi-Fi system with Blueweb at the same time as Sarasota Economic Development Director Randy Welker.

“If we don’t agree to partner with Blueweb, then the chamber of commerce or someone else will,” said Moran. The DID could receive revenue for economic development purposes in its district through the partnership.

The DID board of directors, however, thought a partnership with someone else beside the DID might not be a bad idea, especially after chief planner Steve Stancel explained that the city wouldn’t require a request for proposal bid process for the project if it were proposed by a non-profit group instead of the DID.

When Stancel explained the city couldn’t perform a request for proposals process until January at the earliest, DID Chairman Ernie Ritz suggested the DID consider allowing the Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce or the Downtown Sarasota Alliance to act as Blueweb’s partner.

“We could have the system up and running quicker,” Ritz said.

Blueweb is proposing a free Wi-Fi service and virtual wayfinding touchscreens at no cost to the city that would be installed on buildings to help visitors locate businesses and daily deals at city shops within the downtown core.

The DID will discuss the wayfinding system at its Tuesday, Nov. 7 board of directors meeting.

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