Technology helping government deliver services
by Mary Scott Nabers,
CEO of Strategic Partnerships, Inc.
Public officials are finding that some of their scarce resources must be allocated to wireless fidelity (Wi-Fi) networks. Free Wi-Fi networks are becoming commonplace in parks, recreation areas, public transportation areas and public buildings.
Government has been sent a clear message - citizens want to interact and communicate via their laptops, tablets, smartphones and other Wi-Fi capable devices. There is no doubt – this is the new norm.
Making free high-speed Internet access available is not all bad. Many good things come about as a result of it. Park usage increases when sufficient data and information is available to citizens. Public transportation is more efficient when there is adequate communication. Educational capabilities increase and most public officials believe that the general quality of life in the community is made significantly better because of Wi-Fi networks.
The trend is universal and no city or state has been untouched. For instance:
- The City of Chicago has taken on the Broadband Challenge because officials there believe the demand from constituents is overpowering. Following the successful implementation of free Wi-Fi in Millennium Park earlier this month, Mayor Rahm Emanuel will move to offer free wireless Internet access in all of Chicago’s public parks.
- California Department of Parks and Recreation has teamed with an Internet provider to bring free Wi-Fi to 46 state parks, recreation areas, RV spaces and parks throughout California. The goal is to increase the flow of tourists throughout the state parks system and to increase use of local public areas.
- In an initiative titled “Light up the Park,” the City of Central Falls, Rhode Island, now offers free Internet services in Jenks Park. This will give many residents who don’t have Internet access in their residential areas opportunities to access high-speed Internet services. It will also promote safe usage of the public facilities.
- The City of Newton, North Carolina, has committed to the development of a free Wi-Fi Internet service in its downtown business districts, city parks and city facilities. In doing this, city officials hope to attract customers to their business districts to support small businesses and to encourage the use and ease of access to city facilities and parks.
- New York has created the “Wi-Fi in the Parks” initiative and has successfully provided free Internet service to 26 locations in the five boroughs since May, with four separate hotspots in Central Park alone. The city also has plans to add Wi-Fi connectivity to The High Line and Foley Square in the near future.
Technology has not only changed the way people live – it has changed the way government provides services, promotes economic development and enhances public safety.