Downtown Wi-Fi eyes future stages

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 8/14/19

The Cleveland Wi-Fi Task Force reviewed a tentative framework for rolling out a free Wi-Fi program in portions of downtown Cleveland.The framework, which was developed by Cleveland IT Director Chris …

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Downtown Wi-Fi eyes future stages

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The Cleveland Wi-Fi Task Force reviewed a tentative framework for rolling out a free Wi-Fi program in portions of downtown Cleveland.

The framework, which was developed by Cleveland IT Director Chris Miller, lists several phases for the program's implementation.

“This is just a draft,” Miller told task force members. 

The draft includes 10 construction phases that include applying for economic development and parks and tourism grants, as well as establishing a pilot program for Wi-Fi access downtown. 

After the pilot program is established, the program will be expanded to include Greenway Park, Tinsley Park, Blythe-Oldfield Park, Avery Johnson Park, Mosby Pool, Deer Park, Inman Street and the Casteel Connector.

The Wi-Fi network will also include security cameras and emergency call boxes in the parks listed on the draft proposal.

Task force members also discussed the importance of ensuring free Wi-Fi access to students who do not have internet access.

During the meeting, Cleveland City Schools Director of Innovation Andrew Phillips told task force members that approximately 50% of CCS students do not have access to the internet at home.

Although the school system supplies laptop computers for students through its Blended Learning and Digital Enhancement Project, many cannot be used after school hours.

“We try not to require homework to be done on the device,” Phillips said.

Task Force Chairman Jeff Cocks said the lack of internet access to city students not only affects their quality of education, but also makes it difficult for parents to utilize the internet for functions such as applying for jobs online.

He said he was surprised to discover that so many area students were without access to the internet at home.

“It’s dumbfounding,” Cocks said. “You’re talking about a lot of students. If they do not have access to the internet, then technology is of no use to them.”

The task force members will continue studying how similar programs have been implemented in other cities.

“We will have more feedback by the next meeting,” Cocks said.

The task force will meet again at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce.

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