Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced Monday the installation of wireless Internet access in Millennium Park as part of a citywide initiative to bring high-speed Internet connection to parks and open spaces.
“Chicago will be one of the most connected cities in the world,” Emanuel said in news release.
“The establishment of a world-class broadband network in Chicago will create thousands of jobs and dramatically improve educational opportunities, economic development, health care services, and general quality of life throughout the city. We will rely on the ideas and efforts of Chicagoans to not only build this network, but make sure it is customized for our residents and our workforce.”
The City did not release any cost estimates for this project, but did state it has begun using a website to gain public input. A request for information was also filed so the City could get ideas from private firms and other groups.
In Millennium Park on Monday, reviews were generally positive when WBEZ spoke with people using the Wi-Fi.
"I was just sitting here thinking I wish I had Wi-Fi so I could check some e-mails and stuff without using my data," said Chicagoan Justen Boyd while sitting on a park bench with his iPad.
"I will use this probably all the time because I have this thing with me a lot and it will be nice to have the Wi-Fi."
Meanwhile, Bernie Holicky says he’s glad to have the Internet access – but does not want to always be connected.
"I think it makes sense to have certain spaces with Wi-Fi, I wouldn’t want it everywhere across the city [...] It’s too much I suppose, I mean you don’t want the whole city wired," Holicky said.
In a statement, the City said it plans on first setting up high-speed Internet in 15 different "innovation areas" around the city. Further plans call for increased Internet access for those in underserved neighborhoods.