By BRG Friend Ruhi "Roo" Shamim
Harlem hit the headlines yesterday with major news: thanks to a 5-year grant from the Fuhrman Family Foundation to the Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City, the neighborhood will be transformed to the nation's largest free public wi-fi hotspot. (Watch video here)
This positions Harlem in the center of the limelight for progressive, tech-savvy urban placemakers and entrepreneurs, but also opens the floodgates for the neighborhood's copious number of grassroots community organizations to connect with each other through location-based social media strategies. This means neighbors, block associations, parks, bodegas, churches, schools, restaurants, and laundromats have instant connectivity to members of the community, streamlining communication with staff, stakeholders, and customers and providing opportunity for local business to improve personalized service to their clientele through mobile app technology and social media strategy.
Here is an excerpt from The Gothamist's article on the story:
"A 95-block stretch of Harlem will become the nation's largest Wi-Fi hotspot, Mayor Bloomberg announced today. The network will extend from 110th to 138th streets between Frederick Douglass Boulevard and Madison Avenue, making it the largest continuous free outdoor public wireless network in the nation.
The network, funded for five years by a donation to the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, will be rolled out in three phases, with the first—extending from 110th to 120th streets—already underway, and the rest expected to be complete by next May. According to a release, the program will increase digital access for around 80,000 Harlem residents, including 13,000 public housing residents.
“Our new Harlem wireless network brings critical connectivity to residents and visitors, giving them 24/7 access to everything from education materials for kids, to information about Harlem’s rich history and attractions, to everyday needs like paying bills, checking library hours—or even just keeping tabs on the Knicks and Nets,” Mayor Bloomberg said in a statement.
The second phase of development will cover 121st to 126th streets and the third is will cover 127th to 138th streets, to be completed in February and May, respectively. Plans for several other Wi-Fi enabled locations are also in the works, and still others have been rolled out over the past few months, though unlike in parks, Harlem residents and visitors won't have to cough up any money after 30 measly minutes of use."