The era of the Smart City is here.
No, I am not weighing the intelligence of our population against those of other cities, but I am weighing how well prepared we are to fully engage in the digital world.
One way is through free access to high-speed Internet – for all. In the early 2000s, you couldn’t go 100 miles without another city trying to be the “WiMax Umbrella” city of the future. That concept fell off the radar, however, generally due to regulations in the utility industry and the economics of posting expensive routers every few yards.
But fast, free Internet access for all is an idea that has not waned. Many cities are advancing their economic development and tourism brand by offering ubiquitous Internet access. The advantages of connecting to social media, email and the Web from anywhere – not just inside a coffee shop that requires a password – are too compelling to ignore. You see it in more and more progressive cities:
Heading to New York? Soon, all their old phone booths will be turned into free WiFi hotspots.
Heading to Portugal on vacation? Just hop on a city bus in Porto to get your free WiFi fix.
Indianapolis mayor Bart Peterson called his city's wireless network "a beneficial economic development tool" that can "enhance tourism in our great city."
Dennis Newman, chief information officer in Winston-Salem, said that the city's municipal wireless has "made downtown appealing” in a way it hadn’t been before.
Imagine Riverwalk lit up: what economic impact might that have for Wilmington?
The results in other cities are pretty astounding. That bus system in Porto, Portugal? Seventy percent of the city’s smartphone owners have used it. And what’s more impressive is that the city – which funds a portion of the project – is able to gather key data that helps the municipality run more efficiently.
The benefits are almost innumerable.
Johanna F. Still - Aug 8, 2022
Jenny Callison - Aug 8, 2022
Staff Reports - Aug 8, 2022
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