Monday, November 6, 2006

Solar WiFi


I have long been an advocate for municipal WiFi systems.

Municipal WiFi systems are municipally sponsored network mesh WiFi internet systems that typically allow low cost and no cost access to broadband connections. As access to information becomes more important for all of us to keep up with developments in politics, culture, and technology it becomes even more important that we don’t leave some people behind.

A municipal government may not come to your mind first when you think about broadband services. Many people may prefer the free market, but municipal governments are in the business of providing roads, police and fire protection, water and sewage treatment. Why not access to information?

Access to information is the backbone of our democracy. Here are a few of the reasons Muni WiFi is a good idea -

Muni WiFi Allows:

1. Municipal and residential scale â€Å"smart metering” of energy use.

2. Traffic congestion monitoring to reduce energy wasting traffic snags.

3. Cost-effective connectivity for both traditional office, mobile and at home workers in Municipal government and business.

4. Untethered access to information which helps improve productivity by allowing City field personnel to work more effectively with office personnel.

5. Complimentary access for visitors and tourists to enjoy during their stays.

Treehugger has an interesting take on St. Louis Park in Minnesota where they propose to go WiFi on renewable energy:

First Solar Wifi City in the US?

St. Louis Park, an unassuming city a few miles west of Minneapolis, may be the first in the country to provide solar-powered wireless internet to its residents. If the idea passes a final City Council vote next week, they will begin the installation of a network of wifi nodes powered by some 400 PV panels situated on public infrastructure around the city. It’s not free however, and through the public/private partnership, residents would be able to pay $15 a month for 128 kilobyte speed or $20 for 1 meg (which does appear to be a pretty decent deal). As reported in the Star Tribune, the city expects to save $40,000 to $50,000 a year by using an entirely solar-powered system as opposed to grid power.

Green wireless internet is a spreading meme. The NGO Green Wifi is hoping to bring solar wireless to people in the developing world, a notion meant to dovetail with the $100 laptop. In NY, a group is selling pixels to raise the funds for a solar and wind powered system, while a handful of other cities (like San Francisco and Boulder) are wrangling with free-wireless-for-all legislation. Some are even working out back pack hacks, while others eschew wifi altogether. Folks in St. Louis Park will know on Nov. 6th whether their solar-powered wireless network is a green light. :: The Star Tribune via Hugg (Jetsongreen the incredible!)!

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