January 17th – Scientific Victoria Chair David Brazter refutes science behind Wi-Fi health & safety concerns. They wisely supported the CRD bylaw preventing minors from using tanning equipment in commercial facilities because overexposure to UV radiation can lead to skin cancer and therefore, they felt this bylaw would help to protect young people in the CRD. However, they don’t support concerns raised about Wi-Fi in schools, exposing children who are more vulnerable without evidence to prove it will not cause harm. There is no proof it is safe in school because it’s unethical to do studies on children, making it misleading for the World Health Organization, Health Canada or the BC Provincial Health Officer to deem the technology safe. They continue to maintain that it is safe, despite warnings from various scientific bodies requesting long term studies, which at this point do not exist.
Scientific Victoria lists their 6 reasons to keep Wi-Fi in schools.
Recently, the Greater Victoria School District (SD61) formed a committee that will consider banning wireless technology from our schools. We’ve launched a campaign to prevent that from occurring. You can join our efforts by signing up to our email list.
Whynotwired responds: not true, they formed a committee to review it, not to ban it.
Here are six reasons to keep Wi-Fi in School District 61:
1) The World Health Organization, Health Canada and BC’s Provincial Health Officer (Dr. Perry Kendall) have all determined there is no credible evidence of adverse health effects from Wi-Fi.
Whynotwired response: There are countless peer reviewed studies that demonstrate that there are indeed adverse health effects. Many other countries in Europe that set their safety standards thousands of times lower and are removing Wi-Fi from public facilities for this reason. Health Canada, the World Health Organization and BC’s Provincial Health Officer only address thermal effects. There have been many peer reviewed studies that show biological damage occurs prior to the heating threshold.
2) Wi-Fi provides students with high speed, reliable and convenient access to high quality and up-to-date educational resources.
Whynotwired response: Wifi is not reliable. Outside interference reduces convenience and it lags with more than 5 or 6 devices accessing the same access point. Therefore, it’s considerably slower and lags. Wired internet access provides students with reliable, real high speed internet access, with greater security and greater bandwidth.
3) Wi-Fi is cost effective. It uses publicly managed radio spectrum to eliminate cables and reduce network installation costs.
Whynotwired response: Totally misleading statement … “publicly managed radio spectrum” – 2.45 & 5Gh is a free spectrum that does not require a license to use, but you have to manage your own use of it at a cost (i.e. staff & equipment to manage capacity and to monitor usage and troubleshooting). New 3G and 4G wireless devices automatically associate with your network causing congestion, using up your available IPs -you would have to keep adding increasing number of IPs to keep up with demand on system.
The skillset of wireless network administrator is quite different than that of a wired system – it’s a completely different speciality. Approximately 8% of network administrators currently have the skill set to manage an enterprise size wireless network properly. Finding a problem on a wireless system is much more difficult and time-consuming to pin down, and overall requires much more maintenance.
A Wireless Survey needs to be completed for each site before deployment of wireless network to determine wireless interference in the buildings; factoring into the design of the system and ultimately adding cost. This is not something that can be done by just any IT person or network administrator – it requires a specialist.
With a wireless system, there are increased costs due to 3G/4G wireless devices automatically associating with the wireless Access Points, using up the limit of the A/P’s available.
Industry has always recognized that wired networks are the most cost effective in a corporate/enterprise environment, of which schools fit into. Because this is public money, there should be a call for a full cost/benefit analysis before any installation is done.
4) Wi-Fi empowers teachers and students by providing them with more freedom in their schools.
Whynotwired response: Certainly there may be some truth to this, but at what cost? If freedom is needed to move around, download content as needed to devices in advance, not on the fly with streaming video and the need for Wi-Fi. This will take planning, but it’s much more reliable than having students potentially running into live streaming lags and interference. In the end, they will still receive the same great educational information, but in a safer, more secure and stable setup. Whynotwired needs to be clear that no one is trying to deny any student access to these great educational tools, simply it should be done in the safest, most cost-effective and technologically efficient manner.
5) Wi-Fi has already been reviewed by the school board. This occurred at the June 14, 2010 meeting of the Operations, Policy and Planning committee. In that meeting, the Director of Information Technology for District 61 explained to trustees that Wi-Fi is safe.
Whynotwired response: The minutes for this meeting only reflect the health concerns Wi-Fi raised by a local teacher and state no where that there had been a review or statements relating to a review of it’s safety. The minutes can be found here:
6) Opponents of Wi-Fi typically base their concerns on poorly designed research studies, obscure studies that cannot be replicated, scientific results that have been taken out of context or research that has not been peer reviewed. However, in a free and open society, false or misleading information should not be passively accepted. As the governing body for public education in the district, the school board has an opportunity to stand up for science by reaffirming its commitment to Wi-Fi.
Whynotwired response: Proponents of Wi-Fi typically base their lack of concerns on the ridiculous concept of weight-based research studies, studies that have not yet been replicated, Health Canada’s lack of commissioning appropriate studies, scientific results that have been taken out of context or research that has been peer reviewed but for some odd reason, discredited. However, in a free and open society, false or misleading or industry-funded (therefore conflict of interest). This information should not be passively accepted. As the governing body for public education in the district, the school board has an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to children’s safety, using the precautionary principle.