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November 30, 2005

Umatilla County, Oregon network for emergency, public safety and onion farming

One of the largest wi-fi networks in the U.S. was installed in rural Oregon as a safety precaution in case of a spill at a military nerve gas storage depot.

The Los Angeles Times has an article on the 700-square mile Umatilla County, Oregon free wi-fi network (one of the largest in the US, but not the largest) which is used by the police, emergency workers, port shippers, and onion farmers:

The reason this wireless hot spot — believed to be one of the largest in the nation — was set up in the first place was not for those potential users, however. It was built as an emergency communications system in the event of a leak at the Umatilla Chemical Depot, where nearly 4,000 tons of sarin, mustard and other Cold War-era nerve gases are stored in concrete igloos.

The network cost $5 million to build and has so many uses for different kinds of businesses that it’s hard to believe this is good old wi-fi technology.