The availability of a free public wireless zone (free WiFi) in cities has been a key part of a smart city for many years. While many of us have access to mobile Internet (and with that number increasing) the benefits of free WiFi are still numerous.
According to The World Bank for every 10% of additional users who access the Internet will result in an increase a country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). This increase is calculated at 1.28%. This is valid at the State and local levels as well, which means having this service will more than pay for itself.
There are numerous ways in which Free WiFi can benefit a city.
Disaster relief, for example, is simplified by the fact that messages can be sent to everyone in an affected area. A public Wi-Fi zone does not need much power, so a small generator or solar panel will keep it running.
Education and digital literacy are guaranteed to grow through access to public wireless zones.
Advertising is key with public wireless as a city can promote itself with a unique offering.
In the United States New York, Boston, San Francisco, and many other cities offer free public Internet access. In San Francisco, for example, public parks and areas use this to attract visitors. It also increases use of public transit and other city services.
On the international level Free WiFi is available in many places including Tel Aviv, Seoul, and Barcelona. All of these places have seen major benefits to having this service.
It is important for any city offering this to make sure they consider bandwidth and functionality. If the service was not dependable, or if it was very slow, it wouldn’t be used. Making it a waste of funding and labor. Other issues to consider is where is current WiFi coverage available, or what size of coverage should the city consider making available. Is it going to be an entire district of the city? Is the focus parks and public transit? Are there areas without coverage now that would be more valuable to turn on? All good questions to ponder before making such a service a promotional tool.
William (Bill) Sikkens has been a technology expert for KXL on the Morning Show with Steve and Rebecca since 2014. With an expertise in I.T., cyber security and software design he has had more than 20 years’ experience with advanced technology. Sikkens conceptualizes and designs custom applications for many professional industries from health care to banking and has the ability to explain the details in a way all can understand. Article edited by Gretchen Winkler.
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