Saying that Santana Row in San Jose, CA, is a shopping center doesn’t begin to do it justice. It’s really more of a small city -- with 2,000 residents, a world-class European boutique hotel, 750,000 square feet of office space in addition to the cutting-edge shops and restaurants that serve over 13 million visitors every year.
Much of Santana Row is an open-air experience, about five acres of open air to be precise. Even before COVID, workers at Santana Row often held meetings in the plaza outside while shoppers strolled the tree-lined streets and families took advantage of well-manicured playgrounds. When the pandemic struck, people made even more use of those areas and it was quickly revealed that the green spaces were also dead spaces for cell phone signal.
Federal Realty, the owners of Santana Row, knew that with such a high concentration of people in one place, the inability to communicate is a real safety concern. Without cell signal, a lost teenager can’t call her mom to arrange a meeting spot, and a person having a medical emergency can’t call for lifesaving help. Federal Realty wanted to be sure their shoppers, residents and workers had adequate communications to handle these and other not-so-ordinary emergencies, like the coronavirus or protests, so they reached out to Illuminati Labs for help.
It was an enormous undertaking, but we completed the five-acre project block by block, in three separate phases over the course of several months. The end result was solid cell coverage both indoors (the Twitter and Federal Realty buildings) and out. We’re proud to say that in December, when thousands of people stood in line to get their photos taken in front of the iconic Santana Row Christmas tree, they could also use a smartphone app to make dinner reservations and enjoy a phone call with a friend while they waited.