The Data Dude – PLS Wi-Fi

wifiThe Dude has been busy cleaning up data files from the public library survey (PLS) for submission to IMLS. Once the data is cleaned up, it will be posted on the NLC website. In the meantime, let’s review the new data element on this year’s public library survey that asked about the number of Wi-Fi sessions annually provided by Nebraska libraries. I know that reporting this data was problematic for many of you, so I appreciate you taking the time to collect and report it. The total number of Wi-Fi sessions for Nebraska libraries reported was 967,657. The Dude doesn’t have the complete data from this year’s survey, but for the sake of comparison, the total number of wired public computer uses in libraries last year was more than 2.2 million. It’s probably safe to assume the reported Wi-Fi number is much lower than reality. So, how do we get more accurate data collection next year? Some of you are already looking into technological solutions or methods to capture this data for next year’s survey. Thank you for doing that. Even if a technological solution (e.g. from your router or other software installed) is implemented, it is acceptable to take samples throughout the year (try and do it for different seasons of the year) and average them. Count what you see. In other words, if you see a couple of Dudes outside during the summer with tablets, laptops, or a tablet and a laptop, count both of them. Mobile devices make this a bit tricky – do you count someone using a smartphone or not? Well, it really depends. If the evidence from your observation leads you to believe they are online, then yes, count them. If not, don’t. Someone typing erratically is most likely texting and not surfing, so you wouldn’t count that. Make a judgment call. It doesn’t have to be an exact science, unless you do have one of these technological solutions in place, such as a log from your router or other software installed to capture each and every session. For more reading, see some of these links: Google Analytics (requires a captive portal or splash page), Cisco Meraki, Aerohive, Pfsense, and Who’s on My WiFi. The Library network’s Best Practices for Wireless Statistics also offers helpful guidelines to assist with capturing this data. Shaka.

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