Thanks to the City of Bellingham

The city comes through on public wi-fi hotspots

The city comes through on public wi-fi hotspots

• Topics: Bellingham, Schools, Technology,

After nine years of legitimate fault finding, protesting, complaining, criticizing and lamenting about Bellingham’s Public Works and Information Technology (IT) Departments, I am very happy today to be posting an article about a good experience I had with the IT Department recently.

The Problem:

I use public wi-fi hotspots, heavily, at the few City of Bellingham (CoB) locations where they are available. Over a month ago, I reported to the staff of these facilities that the hotspots had stopped working, specifically with Samsung Android 13 phones. I should note that Samsung periodically forces updates onto their phones which is incredibly annoying. Sometimes these updates cause the phones to reject  hotspot connections when they do not meet Samsung’s security standards or for many other reasons. Often a simple restarting of the wi-fi router or firmware update will fix the issue. A spokesperson from the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center replied, saying they had tested the issue (likely with an unrelated phone—CoB employees seem to prefer iPhones), and it worked fine so no further action would be taken. This, of course, meant that they had missed the point.  

I had explained in my e-mail that it was an Android 13 specific issue and that the connection probably still worked with other equipment, but after that reply, I figured it was just business-as-usual at the CoB and that was that. I did mention the issue to several people who, over the last nine years, have kept an interested eye on the city’s big-telecom shenanigans.

The Solution

That’s when someone suggested I try one more time, using the SeeClickFix system. It was not obvious that one can use this system to report IT issues. In fact, the system had no mechanism to report IT issues. So, I took a shot in the dark and used the “Structural Issues” selection for public works. 

Weeks went by with no response and I was getting ready to write a very different article, then I received a phone call from the CoB IT Department. Their technician actually took me seriously, tested the connection with an Android 13 phone, realized it didn’t work, and then actually repaired the issue! Sure, it took over a month, but can you believe it?! The CoB actually did something telecom related that was positive for the community. Now, what about access to our existing fiber network and a real Dig Once policy?

The First of Many?

You see, at the end of the day, citizens don’t want to be annoyed or angry with our public institutions and infrastructure, we just want it to work well and do its job. So, I really do hope this is the first of many articles I will write praising the CoB. 

Maybe next time we can talk about a change of leadership, so this kind of responsiveness to citizens becomes the norm. 

We’re looking at you, Public Works Director Eric Johnston. 

About Jon Humphrey

Citizen Journalist • Bellingham • Member since May 23, 2017

Jon Humphrey is currently a music educator in Bellingham and very active in the community. He also has decades of professional IT experience including everything from support to development. He [...]

Comments by Readers

Aaron Brand

Nov 09, 2023

See click fix works great. We had a loose screw on a sewer cover on my block and within a week of posting it the issue was fixed. 

I’m sure I could think of something to complain about, but then it might completely negate the positive energy of giving thanks for something good. 

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