Tips, Tricks, and Advice for Collecting Wi-Fi Stats at Your Library

Last month in our newsletter, we asked our members how they collected Wi-Fi statistics at their respective libraries through a short survey. This month, we're excited to share those results with you!

A Quick Breakdown of the Numbers:

Before we delve into the results, a quick caveat: this is in no way a broad representation of how libraries gather statistics. There was a total of 27 respondents to our survey, so we can't draw any general conclusions about how libraries gather statistics, but there is still plenty of advice we wanted to share with other libraries.

Fifty-nine percent of our respondents said that they do collect Wi-Fi statistics.

When we asked how they collected statistics, 31 percent of our respondents said that their Wi-Fi hardware has a built-in tool that gets the job done.

But the largest category of respondents, 47.6 percent, answered that they used a different tool than what we listed (see pie chart below).

What Libraries Measure

Most of the libraries told us that they collect:

  • Number of unique users
  • Length of time the user was connected to the network

Another respondent clarified that there is a difference between capturing unique users and unique sessions:

"For wireless, we don't have reporting for individual sessions (like the public access computers), but instead unique users over the course of a month. A unique user may have multiple sessions within a month."

Another respondent had a similar comment: "Try and get sessions (and/or time spent) so you can compare to your public computer sessions. Ours is managed by our County IT Dept., we use FortiGate, and they say we can only get unique user data."

The Tools Libraries Use

Because TechSoup for Libraries is all about sharing advice from library to library, we asked our participants to provide their Wi-Fi stats wisdom.  

One respondent said: "Make sure that the equipment / solution you use has integrated statistics, it makes life significantly easier!" 

A few users reported that they rely on a "captive portal," which is a web page that is shown before the user starts using the Internet. This could be a login page or a terms-of -service page that the user has to agree to in order to start browsing normally.

  • "We have our analytics tracking code snippet on the successful result page of our captive portal. Works great."
  • "The CloudTrax system has been a lifesaver. Complete with Captive portal so we can push out the legal mumbo jumbo. The actual equipment is inexpensive, versatile and easy to set up. The CloudTrax system is free, shareware."

Similarly, one person answered that her or his library collects the number of successful acceptances of the terms of use.

Other tools mentioned included:

  • More love for CloudTrax: "CloudTrax with open mesh. It's FREE!!"
  • Wireless Network Watcher
  • "Aerohive has a web based site for managing the access points and statistics but it is difficult to get statistics."
  • "If you have the money, buy [Cisco] Meraki or other access points that will collect the stats you need."
  • And another plug for Meraki: "We love our cloud-managed Cisco Meraki Wireless Access Points."

Advice for Other Libraries

We also got some answers that indicated that the respondents could use some advice themselves: "Being a small, rural public library, we could use some advice ourselves!" So, if you missed our survey, here's your chance to help your peers. Share your tips, experiences, and advice for collecting Wi-Fi stats in the comments!

Also, we'd like to give a huge thank you to the survey participants!

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