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Google gifts $600K to San Francisco to bring free Wi-Fi to parks and plazas

san franciscoFree Wi-Fi is set to land in 31 San Francisco parks thanks to a $600,000 donation from local Web giant Google, the city said Wednesday.

The initiative will see Wi-Fi hotspots rolled out in not only parks but also recreation centers and plazas, the San Francisco Gate reported. The service will remain free for all users for at least the first two years.

One of those behind the plan, local politician Mark Farrell, said, “San Francisco should be a leader for bringing technology solutions to its residents and improving their quality of life on a day-to-day basis.

“There are so many added benefits – it will help bridge the digital divide, it will empower local residents and community groups who will have access at local parks, and it will help Recreation and Park Department staff sign up kids for camps and recreation programs with Internet speed many people would be shocked doesn’t already exist.”

Recreation and Park Director Phil Ginsburg said the city was keen to make its parks system as “technologically robust” as possible, with this latest initiative set to help towards that goal. He added, “New York City parks have Wi-Fi, in Paris every city park has Wi-Fi. We want to make it easier for people to spend more time in parks and enjoy them.”

To help administer the project, Google has linked up with San Francisco Citizens Initiative for Technology and Innovation (sf.citi), comprising an association of local companies that supports such initiatives.

Provided the plan gets the green light from the Planning Department, and the Recreation and Parks Commission approve an agreement with the Department of Technology, the free Wi-Fi hotspots could be up and running as early as April next year.

Google was involved in a project with communications provider EarthLink back in 2007 to provide citywide Wi-Fi access for San Francisco, but for various reasons the initiative never got off the ground. Here’s to hoping things work about better this time around.

[Image: Andrew Zarivny / Shutterstock]

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