Urban Defender

Urban Defender: Creating a democratic wireless community

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Creating a democratic wireless community

A new grassroots initiative in Toronto has just recently launched wireless toronto. Inspired by the Montréal group Ile Sans Fil this group seeks to provide free WiFi hotspots in public or publicly accessible spaces all over Toronto. No advertising and no cost to users are the key points to their program. Modest access and set up costs are born by the hosts and the labour and maintenance are taken care of by the wireless toronto.

The group also has a commitment to fostering community by providing community information pages and through its own volunteer organization and community outreach practice.

What is both ironic and encouraging is that though this idea was born in the Queen Street West, Spadina, Kensington Market zone of urban bohemia, some of the first host sponsor sites are on the suburban fringes.

While chains like the Second Cup chain themselves to the big bad boys of telecom and cable to provide expensive WiFi access at their shops, and the City of Toronto is going through its ponderous preparation of a Request For Proposal for a six month (and it appears private sector) trial of WiFi access at Nathan Phillips Square, this loose gang of social innovators and community minded techies is making free WiFi access a reality on volunteer sweat, will and imagination.

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