Why Should We Have Free Public Wi-Fi in Smart Cities?
In today’s digital age, access to the internet has become a necessity. With the endless array of capabilities and the rise of the Internet of Things, internet access is not just a luxury or a form of entertainment but a tool for education, communication, and even work. Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of owning a personal device with internet capabilities or the means to pay for a data plan, which is why free public Wi-Fi in cities is more important than ever. We discuss why we should have free public Wi-Fi, how it can bridge the digital divide and the challenges of implementing such a system.
Public Wi-Fi can be easily accessed from various locations such as parks, libraries, shopping malls, restaurants, and public transportation stations. This easy access enables commuters to stay connected to the internet and communicate with their friends and family, regardless of their financial situation and location. Free public Wi-Fi provides undoubted convenience for those who need to work or study on the go. Individuals can stay connected while moving around the city without additional data charges.
When travelling, tourists are more incentivised to visit a location if it has free public Wi-Fi. Not only does this allow them to stay in contact with their family and friends, but they can also check travel information and local events in their areas without purchasing an additional data SIM card. They can also share their experiences with others in real time, helping to promote the city and its offerings. This, in turn, can lead to more tourists visiting the city, which can positively impact the local economy.
Free public Wi-Fi in cities provides access to educational resources for those who cannot afford it. Students will benefit from this, and individuals from underprivileged backgrounds can also access online educational resources, including courses, eBooks, and research papers, making learning more accessible to everyone. Free public Wi-Fi promotes lifelong learning and encourages people to explore their interests from anywhere at any time.
Promoting social inclusion is a critical reason why we should have free public Wi-Fi in cities. Providing internet access to people living in low-income areas or developing countries where internet access may be limited or expensive can help bridge the digital divide immensely, reducing the gap between those with access to technology and those without. In addition to helping people stay connected to their communities and the world regardless of their financial status, they can access educational resources, employment opportunities, and other crucial services online. This can help them overcome barriers by giving them access to things they otherwise would not have and the ability to improve their social status.
Challenges and Solutions
Monetising free Wi-Fi is a significant challenge, as people expect it to be a free and best-effort service. This expectation means that users are not willing to pay for Wi-Fi services, and governments or private companies must cover the cost of deployment and maintenance of the infrastructure.
Another challenge is the setup of the infrastructure. While it might seem easy in theory, in practice, there are several factors to consider, such as location, coverage, signal strength, and capacity. Providing secure and reliable Wi-Fi services also requires significant investment in technology, equipment, and personnel.
To solve these challenges, governments can partner with private companies to fund and deploy the infrastructure, with the private sector handling the monetisation and management of the Wi-Fi services. They can also regulate and standardise the provision of public Wi-Fi to ensure that the services are secure, reliable, and accessible to all.
Stay Connected with Smart City
Start your journey to a more interconnected society today with Smart City, New Zealand’s answer to smart city technologies and solutions of the future. The Smart Bench is solar-powered urban furniture equipped with mobile-charging capabilities, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and environmental sensing data, enabling patrons and commuters a place to rest and connect with the world. Not only is it easily maintained, but it is also a 100% standalone system that works around the clock in all weather conditions. Want to find out more? Reach out to us today.