WiFi Makes Communities Smarter, Safer and More Accessible

We have come to expect free public WiFi as an available commodity in just about any public space. In reality, wireless Internet is a very recent revolutionary technological advance. As the availability of public WiFi increases, so too do the opportunities for it to help make the world smarter, safer, and more accessible.

Consider this: Every time a person connects to a guest WiFi network through a captive portal, they are opening themselves up to share behavioral and demographic data that can be leveraged in a number of ways to improve the community around them.

WiFi is Making Cities Smarter

More and more cities are offering free guest WiFi for residents and visitors to use while out in public spaces. New York City has recently made WiFi available in the subway system, but WiFi is more than a tourist perk - it's an investment in the future.

Smart cities will be more efficient, more cost-effective, and more adaptable. Tracking usage across WiFi access points in cities and towns can inform pedestrian patterns, peak times of usage, foot traffic issues or potential bottlenecks. While no one is going to redesign Times Square to make it more foot-traffic friendly, public WiFi data will be used to plan new public spaces and augment existing pedestrian footpaths.

The IoT (Internet of Things) and WiFi will herald in a city where every streetlight, mailbox and trash can are connected, delivering data back to city planners and local governments. The city of the future will remotely manage its power grid, water systems, and traffic - all through the Internet.

WiFi Makes Communities More Accessible

An estimated 48.9 million people in America live with a disability. That's about 19% of our population. Smart technology is already playing an integral part in solutions that improve mobility and accessibility. In the very near future, WiFi access points could be used as beacons, offering navigational guidance and other helpful service information as soon as a guest's WiFi enabled phone comes within the proximity.

Install WiFi anywhere-a public park or underneath the Hudson river-and anyone with a phone, laptop, or tablet can connect to it. Guest WiFi can also serve accessibility services at venues. A restaurant could offer navigational guidance for customers with visual disabilities right from its guest WiFi login screen. A custom landing page on guest WiFi could enable guests to self-identify as needing a special menu or other assistance. The only limit to WiFi's potential to improve the quality of our lives is our own human ingenuity.