New Urban Mechanics and Wi-Fi
By Bill Maguire, Director of WifiForward’s Save our Wi-Fi Campaign
In her article “Cities Find Rewards in Cheap Technologies,” Nanette Byrnes writes that cities across the globe are in the midst of a giant technology experiment. They’re using inexpensive technologies to deploy sensors, develop mobile apps and make broadband connectivity more ubiquitous — along the way revealing better ways to run their governments and improve urban life. “In the modern era,” she writes, “managing the growing challenges of cities well and affordably will be close to impossible without smart technology.”
Increasingly, we observe evidence of technological experimentation taking place in US cities like Boston and Philadelphia, where programs like New Urban Mechanics pursue “low-cost hacks” to strengthen the partnership between residents and government. Notable experiments include the development of a popular “Where’s My School Bus” app that allows parents to track their student’s school bus and Boston’s network of outdoor Wi-Fi hotspots. Innovative public-private partnerships like these are helping leverage the power of technology to enhance the quality of life of residents.
The City of Atlanta has also been active in encouraging technological experimentation. Through its Center for Innovation Demonstration Projects, Atlanta extends an open invitation to entrepreneurs to beta test their products using city resources. Entrepreneurs can submit applications here.
Wi-Fi networks are a critically important element of technological experimentation in cities. As a relatively low cost technology with an unsurpassed base of billions of Wi-Fi enabled devices, cities are using Wi-Fi to advance objectives in education, public safety, and transportation, and many other areas. A recent report released by CTC Technology & Energy illustrates the many important ways in which cities rely on Wi-Fi. And with the research and development going on as we speak, who know’s what tomorrow’s Wi-Fi innovation will be!
We invite you to tweet at @saveourwifi to share with us the ways your city is using Wi-Fi to power services. If it’s a model worth replicating, we’ll showcase it on our site!