meet: smart city networks:
Keeping customers plugged in, no plug necessary
26 November 2012
Name of business: Smart City Networks
Address: 5795 W. Badura Ave., Las Vegas
Owned/operated by: Privately owned by a consortium of investors. President is Mark Haley.
In business since: Smart City Networks was founded more than 25 years ago and established its corporate headquarters in Las Vegas in 1998.
Describe your business.
Smart City is the nation’s largest provider of event telecommunications and technology for the convention industry. We provide wired and wireless Internet services, phone services and digital signage at convention centers and meeting facilities. Smart City Networks services more than 3,000 conventions and meetings annually and serves 37 convention and meeting facilities nationwide, including the Las Vegas Convention Center.
Who are your customers?
We partner with convention and event facilities, then work directly with show organizers and event planners. Ultimately, an event’s attendees and exhibitors also are our clients as they utilize our services to get online to check email, download documents and give presentations.
What makes your business unique?
We work within the ever-changing realm of smart technology. More and more people are carrying at least one, if not multiple, smart devices, all of which access the Internet wirelessly and are being used for more than just simply checking email. Making sure convention centers can keep thousands of people and their devices online simultaneously and for a variety of uses from surfing the web to downloading video is a unique challenge.
Additionally, the convention industry is always adopting new technologies and expanding its offerings to create bigger and better events. Most recently, we have begun to install and operate digital signage networks at convention centers that present content to thousands of attendees in high-traffic locations.
This year, we installed a network at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and it has been very successful. It also has new interactive features that allow management to engage attendees with live social network feeds, contests, surveys and games. The digital signage network has been so successful at the LVCC that it was named by Trade Show Executive magazine as the “Most Innovative Tech Initiative Serving Show Management, Exhibitors and Attendees.”
What is your business philosophy?
Our motto is “in a hectic world, we give you peace of mind.” People rely on their smart devices to stay connected 24/7 — both professionally and personally. Our goal is to ensure that during an event, at which there could be thousands of people all trying to get online at the same time, people can successfully stay connected and do whatever they need to do via a reliable and secure Internet connection.
What’s the most important part of your job?
Working individually with clients to ensure every show’s specific connectivity needs are met. No two events are the same.
Without a robust Wi-Fi network, no one would ever be able to connect wirelessly to the Internet. After all, Wi-Fi doesn’t just exist. It is a product of significant infrastructure, wiring and maintenance. The type of Wi-Fi network needed in a convention center serving thousands of users simultaneously is much more complex, and costly, than the Wi-Fi network found at your house or at Starbucks. I am committed to educating those in the convention and event industry on these issues and how to better plan for the technology needs.
What is the hardest part about doing business in Las Vegas?
Being a top destination for conventions, Las Vegas attracts some of the largest and most technologically advanced events, like the International Consumer Electronics Show. Our goal is to always stay ahead of the curve and plan in advance to ensure we meet the growing technology demands of these shows. We want to provide every show the connectivity it needs to support exhibitors, allow for videoconferencing and enable attendees to check email, surf the web and upload photos and videos to social networks.
What is the best part about doing business in Las Vegas?
Thanks to its significant convention business, Las Vegas readily embraces new offerings and technologies. We appreciate our great working relationship with the convention center staff and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.
Thanks to our partnership, we were able to enhance the event experience at the LVCC with the digital signage network, which consists of 14 video screens and video walls throughout the North, Central and South Hall public areas, including a high-profile 21-foot-by-12-foot video wall with 36 video screens in the Grand Lobby. In total, the digital signage network at the LVCC consists of almost 100 high-definition monitors.
What obstacles has your business overcome?
With more than 25 years in the industry, Smart City has seen it all. The varying technology needs of shows as they grow and as technology advances really aren’t obstacles but certainly create challenges. Our expert technical teams work diligently to know the latest technology available to create the most reliable and fastest Wi-Fi networks. At the same time, we are working to expand our technology offerings in the convention space to better serve our clients.
As the exclusive provider in the buildings where we operate, we have worked very hard to make customers feel appreciated for bringing their business to us, as well as to the cities we represent. Over the past three years, we have added additional customer service personnel both in the field and within our corporate team to proactively communicate with customers and develop customized solutions as needed. In addition, we can respond more quickly and effectively when customers have questions or need assistance during their event.
How can Nevada improve its business climate?
Nevada should continue to focus on its strengths while it works to diversify its economy. The convention industry brings hundreds of thousands of business travelers to the state every year. These travelers stay in our hotels, dine in our restaurants and buy from our stores while attending multi-day conferences and trade shows. Ensuring that we can continue to provide world-class service in this regard will help strengthen our economy.
What have you learned from the recession?
We realize that event managers, vendors and exhibitors are looking for ways to operate more efficiently and stretch their dollars — now more than ever. The recession caused everyone to re-evaluate their budgets.
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