Many cities turn to wireless to help residents and visitors get online, but Providence, R.I., is unwiring itself in a totally different way. The New England port city of 178,000 looked at the needs of its public safety agencies and chose a proprietary mesh network system that avoids some pitfalls of standard Wi-Fi, such as security and interference, according to city CIO Charles Hewitt.Providence\u2019s Motorola Mesh Network Architecture system uses the same unlicensed frequencies as Wi-Fi, but isn\u2019t open to the public at all. To use it, you need special gear made by Motorola. Deployment of the $2.3 million network, which the city owns and operates, began in August and should be done by year\u2019s end, Hewitt says.Among the advantages for safety officials, the network can route packets around a failed access point, an area of interference or a congestion point, Hewitt says. It also works in vehicles, to let firefighters view building floor plans and police officers see suspects\u2019 mug shots while on the way to a call. \u201cWhat they would see out in the car would be virtually the same as what they have at their desk,\u201d Hewitt says. The system uses technology that Motorola got through buying Mesh Networks in 2004. Mesh built upon work by the U.S. Defense Department on devices that could create ad hoc networks among themselves on the battlefield, says Rick Rotondo, a marketing director at Motorola. Proprietary mesh networks can pose a challenge at a bad time, according to Craig Settles, a municipal wireless researcher. In an emergency, crews from neighboring communities won\u2019t be able to get on the city\u2019s network, he says.However, as long as the Motorola network is connected to another IP network, any agency with an IP-based network could communicate through that network, Hewitt says.