Government - Written by Thomas Gegenhuber on Friday, July 23, 2010 13:37 - 6 Comments
Ride and surf
A world without the web is getting unimaginable. It is our access to the world. Already, we hate to be unplugged, like when we’re commuting on public transport–time we could use to read the news, update our twitter status and check the e-mails. While many people have mobile data on their cell phones, it’s often slow, so why not make busses internet hotspots? In addition to simply being useful, doing so would make public transportation more attractive. In a move to make wireless access ubiquitous, some cities in Ohio have done just this, and are making wireless available en-route on city busses.
The list of best-practice examples is long. It’s a good thing that some public transport providers react to that need. But my point is: we live in the year 2010, free accessible WiFi on public transportation and on public squares should be an expected standard. It is the job of local governments in cooperation with the transport authorities to ensure that.
In my home city of Linz in Austria—population of approximately 180,000—the local government is convinced that it is their responsibility to invest in public infrastructure that advances the free access to WiFi. The city provides the citizens with free WiFi on 120 hotspots in the public sphere. Recently, city councilor Christian Forsterleitner put forward a motion that the public transport authority of Linz should provide free accessible WiFi on the streetcars and in the most frequently used bus shelters. The public transport authority reacted positively.
This progressive move stands in stark contrast to what Toronto—my current city of residence—is doing: Toronto is getting new Street Cars from Bombardier in 2012. Linz has similar light rail and low floor streetcars since 2001. I think the TTC in Toronto should consider providing free WiFi for the new streetcars. A world metropolis must be able to offer the same service as a small city in Austria.
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