Why You Will Come to Love Dead Zones

'Wireless-free' areas will enhance security-and raise attention levels in your meetings.

For the first 20 years of cellular communications, mobile handset users complained about dead zones and kept switching services to get reliable connections.

In the next 20 years, organizations of all types will be seeking out dead zones. If they dont exist, theyll create them.

Yes, thats right. You can hear me now.

To date, the unchallenged assumption behind wireless communications is that it should be ubiquitous and unimpeded.


At some point over the next five years, you will see military organizations, schools and corporations try to figure out how to seal off parts of their facilities from wireless communications.

Why? Lets take a sampling.

Corporations: How many meetings have you attended recently where at least one participant is distracted by a cell phone, another is tapping messages relentlessly into a Blackberry and a third is "working" on a laptop? Is that person just taking notes? Peek at the screen, to be sure.

Public transportation: Operators of commuter rail service in Madrid and every other major city probably wish now they had a cheap way to seal off their rolling assets from incoming signals. That would have made it impossible to detonate explosives in backpacks left on luggage racks.

Education: Cheating by students is no longer a matter of writing notes in ink on palms of hands or glancing at a neighbors work. Hopefully, you didnt miss Charles Gibsons April 29 PrimeTime Thursday report on the state of the art in cheating at colleges and high schools. Sidekicks and Blackberries now are "lifelines" used beneath the desk to get answers from cohorts in remote places. Personal digital assistants make it easy to use Google on the spot to look up answers on the Web—or pull notes from a hard drive.

What every organization in every business, academic, social and security setting will have to figure out is where not to have wireless communications. We will build dead zones, for our own protection, productivity and concentration.

These dead zones will most likely fall to you, the technology project manager, to install, maintain and monitor. You will have to determine which set of meeting and conference rooms will need to be reserved for pure face-to-face communication. You may even have to seal off some executive offices from wireless distraction.

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