Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Toledo Leads on Wireless

As someone who reads blogs, I know you'll be interested in this story about Toledo's rapid climb into Wi-Fi. Taking advantage of our new infrastructure and creating jobs is our next step.

Intel has named Toledo No. 5 on their list of Most Unwired Cities in America - we jumped from 64th a year ago. This means, of course, you can go on-line at hot spots across town, the largest wi-fi district being Downtown Toledo - from the ballpark south into the Warehouse District and east through Promenade Park, across the Maumee River, and into International Park. Imagine designers and business people taking their work outdoors, maybe touching up and emailing a PowerPoint while dining al fresco at the Docks. Or maybe someone using their boat as their office, and using one of our downtown marinas. An unwired city is a good carrot in our hunt to attract jobs and investment.

Wireless districts, along with targeted education and training programs, can also help bridge the "digital divide" to economically depressed citizens of Toledo. Click here for a discussion on the grand Philadelphia experiment.

We met at the University of Toledo's Urban Affairs office two years ago - not long after I became a councilman & around the time Richard Florida spoke at the Peristyle - to discuss municipal wi-fi districts in Toledo. The top folks over at Buckeye Cable really are the ones who took the lead and made the investment in our library system and some of our public spaces. This current article from C-Net has some sharp analysis of the wi-fi trend.

Warchalking in Toledo? Marketing hype? I spoke with someone just last night who earlier in the day picked up and used one of our wi-fi signals downtown on their laptop.


Anonymous Sepp said...

At least we've finally made the top 5 on a GOOD list. Some good avertising could go a long way.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Marshall said...

This was absolutely amazing news! I couldn't believe we ranked up there with the "tech giants" of the nation. I've always thought a great way to attract young computer programmers, web designers, graphic design artists, etc. was to offer FREE wireless internet to anyone in the city (or at least certain sections of the city). Wireless technology is not very expensive (I just bought a 802.11G wireless router - top of the line - for $40.00).

Perhaps we can capitalize on the momentum of this high ranking and improve on it. We do have the second tallest building in Toledo that is virtually vancant. Maybe the city could provide free wireless internet throughout the building, offer to pay for one free year of rent as long as they stay a minimum of 3 or 4 years, and market this program to college graduates and small companies around the country. Something like that would achieve three main goals.....reverse brain drain, get people working downtown again, and get people living downtown again.

Maybe this program is a little ambitious, but I don't think so. I come from a much smaller city that offered FREE houses and lots to artists as long as they rehabilitated the property. The program has been a HUGE success with millions of dollars of investment and around 75 artists moving in after three years.

Frank, has anyone thought of anything similar to this? Or is it impossible to pull off for some reason I don't see?

5:16 PM  
Blogger Dan said...

Great news for Toledo!

Good ideas Marshall, keep them coming. I think the tall building you are referring to downtown has major habitibility problems right now. Bummer.

Toledo was basically built on the backs of labor, trades, and industry. Lets keep that strong AND make Toledo a High Tech destination spot for new up-and-coming businesses and young professionals. The office being wherever you are is quite an enticing thought. More fun, more efficient, more family friendly.

I could go on about this, but here the deal. WiFi is great in that it is cheap, it does not require major power sources or land lines and there is no need to go vertical, so we can make exisiting structures hot spots. WiFi and related tech will change our culture forever. It will allow communities to communicate, organize, react, and plan in nearly 'real time' fashion. That is a powerful tool because we can do this not only locally, but globally. Borders fall and ideas flow.

It will make government more efficient in ways we cannot even yet imaging. Right now, think of how much information city planners could quickly gather at a fraction of the cost today's methods. Basically anything that can have an RFID tag on it, can be monitored in real time and then shared with folks living just about anywhere.

Sorry about the rant... I love this stuff! If you want to learn about one of the early and current gurus of this movement, check out Howard Rheingold

11:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Business and Industry should make it a high priority to continue to build on Toledo's wireless infrastructure if they want Toledo to keep it's spot in the wireless city ranking.

9:12 AM  

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