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Technology, Parks Agencies Release Draft RFP for Feedback

The goal is to have statewide WiFi and broadband connectivity across California's 280 state parks and 22 field districts.

The state’s technology and parks agencies are collaborating on a new RFP, and they’re seeking vendor input.

The California Department of Technology (CDT) in conjunction with the California Department of Parks and Recreation (Parks) has released an RFP draft for pre-solicitation seeking a “California State Parks Statewide Wi-Fi and Broadband Connectivity Solution.” The agencies expect to release the actual RFP “in the very near future as an open competitive process,” Parks CIO Patrick Dennis told Techwire via email.

“The pre-solicitation is a good method to assist with validating the state’s requirements and alignment with industry standards while capturing feedback from the vending community,” Dennis said. Among the takeaways:

The documents, released Nov. 26, seek proposals from “pre-qualified vendors from the state’s electronic vendor application of qualifications (eVAQ) process” to provide fully managed statewide Wi-Fi and broadband connectivity across 280 parks and 22 field districts that are part of the California state parks system. This includes everything from the Governor’s Mansion in Sacramento to the Watts Towers in Los Angeles to the Salton Sea State Recreation Area. The RFP follows a Request for Vendor’s Interest in Submitting a Proposal for the project, released Oct. 24.

• Internet access, per the RFP, “must include a ‘no up-front cost,' fully managed service model” to support connectivity solutions including Wi-Fi and Public Safety. That model must include equipment and infrastructure installation and maintenance as well as an around-the-clock help desk, analytics and technology refresh.

The solicitation’s scope centers on offering WiFi to facility visitors on a “pay as you go” plan — and letting them take any unused connectivity with them to another equipped park facility. The base contract term will be for at least seven years, and up to 10 with extensions. The implementation must have “minimal impact” to park operations and visitors, and it should consider limitations including remote access, historical buildings and coastal commission restrictions.

• Parks currently offers free basic Wi-Fi at 105 parks around the state. It features basic functions like texting, some social media and streaming, Dennis said. The service is installed near existing buildings “due to limited power restrictions,” shares the agency’s “private network supporting administrative applications” and has bandwidth limitations, according to bidder instructions. Because of this, it’s difficult for the agency to offer “fully robust” Wi-Fi with Internet of Things aspects like “full streaming, downloading of educational content, social media, e-commerce, public safety.” Beyond seeking vendor offers to support resilient Wi-Fi, the agency’s goal is also to penetrate remote parks locations and offer coverage that won’t be affected by high usage during peak periods. The agency called the project “a priority” if it is to “interact with visitors in a more modern way.”

• The state seeks vendor feedback on requirements that may be too restrictive or that would preclude a company from bidding, and their suggested changes. The state also asks about “areas of ambiguity or inconsistency" and any other items the state should consider that aren’t included. Feedback and request for confidential meetings to discuss and provide feedback are due by Wednesday to CDT Procurement Official Connie Dionisio.

Theo Douglas is Assistant Managing Editor of Industry Insider — California.