City parks are becoming technological hotspots. As New York spends the summer installing solar charging stations in its already Wi-Fi-enabled parks and plazas this summer, San Francisco is taking advantage of a $600,000 gift from Google that will add free Wi-Fi to 31 parks, recreation centers and plazas.
The Wi-Fi hotspots could be up and running by April, provided the plan receives approval from the city's Planning Department and pending an agreement between the Recreation and Parks Commission and Department of Technology. Once in place, the service will be free for at least two years.
"We really are trying to make our parks system as technologically robust as we can, and this is going to go a long way," said Recreation and Park Director Phil Ginsburg. "This is a best practice; 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. ... This is a great equalizer."
Proponents of the plan say it will have far-reaching benefits, allowing visitors to more easily access city information, residents to work outside of their homes or offices, and parents to more easily sign their children up for recreation programs.
This isn't the city's first foray into public Wi-Fi; a proposed deal in 2007 involving the city, Google and Earthlink failed to pan out due to disagreement between the mayor and Board of Supervisors.