The County of San Mateo’s Information Services Department (ISD) announced today that it has completed the rollout of the first phase of SMC Public WiFi, bringing public WiFi Internet access to 11 sites throughout the county.
“The modern digital divide in our community is really about those who have high-speed access to the Internet and those who don’t,” said Jon Walton, the County of San Mateo’s chief information officer. “We want to try to close those gaps by providing public WiFi to give people access to information and services that they need in their modern lives to be prosperous and healthy.”
SMC Public WiFi is funded by Measure A (a sales tax measure approved by San Mateo County voters in November 2012), and directly supports the goals and priorities of the County’s Shared Vision 2025, particularly in the areas of promoting a prosperous, livable, and collaborative community.
Originally, three sites were piloted in the fall of 2014. The County intends on continuing its partnership with community groups and private sector partners to grow the SMC Public WiFi program, with a goal of at least 12 new public sites launched each year for the next two years. Currently, the 11 operational sites include:
- Coyote Point, San Mateo
- David E. Lewis Reentry Center, East Palo Alto
- Daybreak Shelter, Redwood City
- Downtown Pescadero
- Fair Oaks Community Center, Redwood City
- Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Moss Beach
- Pillar Ridge Community Center, Moss Beach
- Puente de la Costa Sur, Pescadero
- San Mateo County Board of Supervisors Chamber, Redwood City
- Siena Youth Center, Redwood City
- StreetCode Academy, East Palo Alto
“Before SMC Public WiFi, we were located in the heart of Silicon Valley – we were so close, but we felt so far away,” said Olatunde Sobomehin, director of StreetCode Academy in East Palo Alto. “Just by providing Internet, we’ve allowed new people, new ideas, and new opportunities to be presented to Silicon Valley and the world.”
WiFi locations were selected through a thorough process with input from residents and leaders throughout the county. Final sites were chosen based on WiFi access on those locations meeting one or more of the following criteria:
- supporting unserved and underserved communities of residents that do not currently have access to high-speed Internet access;
- creating educational opportunities by providing high speed Internet access for students;
- spurring economic development, such as serving businesses and commerce; or
- improving access to County services and information.
As part of this rollout, the County of San Mateo launched a new SMC Public WiFi website at http://www.smcgov.org/wifi. This site gives details of the program, a map of WiFi locations, usage statistics, a form for residents to provide feedback on the program, and a video overview of SMC Public WiFi. Also, as the County brings more services online, the SMC Public WiFi splash page will be leveraged to communicate with residents about relevant announcements and services.