In time for the summer months, the Detroit Parks Coalition (DPC), the City of Detroit, and Connect 313 have launched a new pilot project to install free public Wi-Fi networks across five Detroit parks.
“Detroit’s parks are our common grounds,” said Sigal Hemy, executive director of DPC. “We are thrilled that our neighborhood parks will help bridge the digital divide and elevate quality of life for all Detroiters.”
The pilot – which will install public Wi-Fi in Bradby, Chandler, Clark, McDuffy and Palmer Parks – is funded through $265,000 in grants from the Detroit Pistons, Rocket Community Fund, and Knight Foundation. According to DPC, funding includes infrastructure installation and five years of service provided by Cronus Internet.
“This is a fantastic opportunity to connect technology with being outdoors,” Alex Allen, DPC’s board president added. “Visitors can enhance their park experience by researching what they find in nature, or streaming music or their favorite show.”
Connect 313, a collaborative established to coordinate and support city-wide digital inclusion efforts with a data-driven, community-based philosophy, will manage the Park Wi-Fi initiative.
“We are proud to be part of a partnership that has so significantly increased digital inclusion in Detroit – taking the city from one of the least digitally connected in 2019 to now being a model of what is possible,” said Laura Grannemann, chair of the Connect 313 Board and executive director of the Rocket Community Fund. “Increasing access to Wi-Fi in public spaces like these five parks is a major part of the path forward to a more connected and equitable city.”
Wi-Fi construction will begin immediately and continue through Fall of 2023. Grant funding will also support charging stations in each of the selected parks. For the pilot program, DPC and the City of Detroit engaged Adopt a Park partners in the siting and design of the Wi-Fi plans. The city noted that community partners will also have the opportunity to raise sponsorship funds for the Wi-Fi splash page. This funding will support park programming and activations.
“The City of Detroit Parks and Rec Division is grateful for the collaborative partnership with the Detroit Parks Coalition, community partners and strategic funders to expand Wi-Fi access in our parks and help bridge the digital divide for Detroiters,” said Dara O’Byrne, City of Detroit chief parks planner.