Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Municipal Wi-Fi

In a recent post on Andrew Warner's blog he applauds the City of San Fransisco and Google for their plans to build a free municipal wi-fi network.

I also happen to think that municipal wi-fi is a Good Thing, but not for the exact same reasons as Mr. Warner. He explains that "more than an unnecessary luxury – it is a matter of social justice." I agree with this sentiment, but I don't think its the only or the most important reason why municipal wi-fi is good.

Municipal wi-fi networks as L. Lessig has put it more eloquently ought to be thought of more like streetlights and roads which government provides for "free" to citizens. Streetlights and roads are a general public good.

To make the point even more clear, consider what the uses would be of a municipal wi-fi network that was not open to the general public. Such a network could be hugely useful to city workers such as police, firefighters, ambulance drivers, garbage men, meter maids, bus drivers, etc, etc, in coordination of action, remote information access, and status reporting. There are a multitude of uses within government itself just as there are many ways that streetlights and roads are used by geovernment.

Then, also there are the more generally cited benefits: 1) incentives for people to gather/play/work in urban locations because of wi-fi and 2) access to the Internet for those who cannot afford broadband subscriptions themselves.

For more information on municipal wi-fi projects see:

In Cincinnati, we have the LilyPad Project which seems to have made good progress in spreading the idea of urban wi-fi as well as actual hotspots. Here is a map of LilyPad access points from their website:

I have never actually used one of their hotspots so I cannot vouch for their success, but I think they have the right ideas.

Here's hoping wi-fi continues to grow and spread in Cincinnati.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Cincinnati Wiki

I think city-oriented wikis are a Good Thing. They are useful as separate entities from encyclopedic entities (like Wikipedia) and city government sites. See for example how well the Seattle Wiki has turned out.

All the normal reasons why wikis are good apply with this (obivous) additional bonus: They are more responsive to the needs of their users especially because the users would fall into fewer categories than the users of a more general purpose wiki. Specifically the users are interested in a particular geographic location. One would expect them to be mostly residents, but also there should be tourists and people considering moving, to name a few off the top of my head.

I posted a couple minor edits to the Cincinnati Wiki tonight. It's hosted by The Cincinnati Beacon which may be emerging as an important part of the Cincinnati-blogosphere.

Like any wiki, this one will need a community to live in it if it is to thrive. Here's looking forward to seeing how it evolves.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Hello World

This is my obligatory First Post.