The Good Stuff
How Connectivity Fits into New York’s Future Infrastructure Plans
- 5 min read
Mike Finley, a veteran technology sector expert and CEO of Boingo Wireless, was elected last month to the Regional Plan Association (RPA) board. In New York, Boingo is best known for its two decades of wireless infrastructure projects throughout the tri-state region and metro areas. That includes extensive work with the Port Authority of NY and NJ, Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) on next generation 5G and Wi-Fi networks.
City & State spoke with Finley about joining the board and to discuss how he sees connectivity fitting into the region’s future infrastructure plans.
City & State: You were elected last month to the Regional Plan Association board of directors. What does it mean for you to join this group?
Mike Finley: I’m really honored to be on the RPA board. Their contributions have been immense over the last 100 years. We at Boingo Wireless have been very engaged with the RPA with the work that we do in providing connectivity at all the airports, transportation hubs and tunnels throughout New York. We have a lot of common areas to meet about and discuss. When this opportunity came up, I was very excited to do it.
How do you see connectivity fitting into the metro area’s regional planning?
With what Boingo does and what I’ve done throughout my career, I can say that connectivity is here to stay and that it’s a major part of what a regional plan is going to include going forward.
From a sustainability perspective, technology can play a significant role in reducing carbon footprint by identifying where issues are in real time. Overall, connectivity is present throughout transportation, airports, stadiums – it’s really ingrained in our lives. Knowing when trains are late and where the lines are in the airports are things that bring an opportunity for reducing the carbon footprint through improved transportation and resource efficiency. Everything that we do at Boingo to make cities, airports and transportation smarter will definitely be a part, not only of the RPA, but of all city planning, both here and abroad.
What do you see as the biggest challenge that New York City, the rest of the state and metro area face in building out the latest, state-of-the-art wireless infrastructure?
It’s a complicated and evolving field. What’s being built today will be out of touch a couple years from now, and you have to keep that constant evolution going to stay up with the devices and the capabilities that are coming. That’s probably the biggest challenge. Obviously, if you’re in tunnels and in airports, you don’t want to have to rewire and do a bunch of work. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Janno Lieber and the MTA in particular have been very intentional in building for the future because they understand that it’s an integral part of being a smart city.
You mentioned to me that “people want connectivity everywhere.” I’d love to see seamless connectivity in all train tunnels. How far away is that from becoming a reality?
It’s a work in progress. Grand Central Madison is a new venue where we have that capability, and that project will continue to expand. Something to keep in mind is that Grand Central Madison was a new tunnel. Incorporating connectivity in live tunnels adds a degree of complexity, but it’s something everybody wants to do, and frankly, must be done. Basic connectivity is great. But there’s also security and a lot of other opportunities for efficiency. That’s one of the reasons I’m really excited to be on the RPA; they see the benefit of connectivity for more than just being able to make a call or text.
This article originally appeared on City & State New York.