City To Provide Free Wi-Fi In City-Owned Spaces

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

In a two-phase rollout, the city of Chattanooga will provide free Wi-Fi in city-owned buildings and public spaces. Phase one of the initiative is underway and includes the rewiring of city-owned public buildings to ensure ubiquitous Wi-Fi access. These buildings include all 18 Youth & Family Development centers, Head Start centers, neighborhood Fire Halls, City Hall, the City Annex, the Development Resource Center (DRC) and more. After the initial phase is complete, the city will begin to wire city-owned public spaces, such as parks, for Wi-Fi access.

In addition to opening up internet access through a two phase rollout, the city is kicking off a public competition to name the Wi-Fi network. Several cities across the country have named their public Wi-Fi networks to reflect a unique aspect of their community or city. (For instance, the Boston network plays on a well-known local phrase with its name, “Wicked Free Wi-Fi”.)

The competition begins Wednesday. The public can visit to submit ideas. In a week, a team of individuals throughout the community and city government will narrow the submissions down to five names; those five will be voted on by the community and a winning name announced before the end of the month.

“The city owns a lot of public spaces and they are used in a variety of different ways by individuals across our community,” said Mayor Andy Berke. "We want to ensure our citizens have more access to the internet – one way we can do that is by utilizing the places our citizens already visit and open them up for even more use.”

Over the last year and a half, Mayor Berke has committed to capitalizing on Chattanooga’s technology and innovation assets. In addition to taking inventory of city buildings and spaces to provide more Internet-accessible locations, Mayor Berke formed a Gig, Tech & Entrepreneurship task force, refocused The Enterprise Center, announced the development of an Innovation District, and held roundtable discussions with the community to discuss digital inclusion. Mayor Berke has stated that these combined efforts will help to “grow Chattanooga’s innovation economy and address issues like access to technology for all citizens”.

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