Dumbo Leads The Way In Wi-Fi
Ambitious plans for municipal Wi-Fi networks from earlier in the decade promised free or cheap ubiquitous Internet access in cities like Philadelphia, San Francisco and Chicago. Those efforts foundered when the economics and logistics proved too challenging in the midst of recession. Perhaps the closest thing to widespread public Web access in most cities now is the free Wi-Fi connections at local Starbucks stores.
New York has been no exception, with a hodgepodge of public Wi-Fi hotspots in parks, plazas and other smaller areas around the city. But today's announcement of a Wi-Fi network covering Brooklyn's Dumbo neighborhood is a step toward providing public Internet access on a bit of a larger scale. The network, which will make Wi-Fi available in the streets and parks in the area, is financed by local developer Two Trees Management at a cost of $65,000, according to a New York Times story.
The effort, which also involves the local improvement district and nonprofit group NYCWireless, is an outgrowth of Dumbo becoming a hub for high-tech and design startups and companies. That includes a bunch of digital agencies such as BigSpaceship, Carrot Creative, Huge and The JAR Group. That community has also given rise to Digital Dumbo, a group that helps foster the neighborhood's status as an entrepreneurial, creative center.
The fact that Two Trees owns most of Dumbo and is so deeply invested in the area was obviously a key factor in getting the Wi-Fi network built. But hopefully the effort will serve as a blueprint for developers, local businesses and nonprofits to forge similar alliances to set up Wi-Fi networks in other parts of New York and in other cities. Are you listening, Donald?