Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, recently announced the expansion of Wi-Fi 2.0 to residents of the Tenderloin District, a historically down-scale neighborhood. In the technology lab of St. Anthony's new LEED certified building, Newsome highlighted the city's effort to bridge the digital divide and bring free broadband Wi-Fi to all San Franciscans.
"Residents of the Tenderloin will now be able to get online, search for jobs and sign up for advanced technology training," said the Mayor. "In addition, we are also on track to bring free Wi-Fi access to all San Francisco Housing Authority sites by the end of the year."
The Department of Technology (DT) has connected non-profits with Meraki, a San Francisco based company to help expand their Free the Net (FTN) initiative in the Tenderloin. Working with community groups, Meraki is giving out wireless repeater antennas that allow residents to join FTN and extend free Wi-Fi access to other parts of the Tenderloin.
"With Free the Net available in 80 percent of San Francisco's neighborhoods and our new initiative to include dozens of public housing units in the network, we are making great progress in deploying free Wi-Fi throughout the city," said Sanjit Biswas, CEO and founder of Meraki.
By the end of the year, Meraki plans to bring free internet access to every neighborhood in the city.
"The city's support of free Wi-Fi in the Tenderloin opens up doors of opportunity for our community," explained Don Falk, executive director of the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Newsom also announced that on Monday, Sept. 22nd, in celebration of One Web Day, volunteers organized through SF Connect will expand Meraki's free wireless network and create technology centers at 10 different low-income housing sites operated by the San Francisco Housing Authority (SFHA) and the TNDC, bringing free internet access to almost 1,000 new units in one day.
To ensure that the benefit of these networks are realized, DT is working with city Departments, community partners, volunteers and residents of public housing on complimentary programs to bring hardware, training and community relevant content to each site.