Cities Are On the EDGE of Smarter, Seamless Connectivity

Cities Are On the EDGE of Smarter, Seamless Connectivity featured image

In 2018, the City of Clermont, Florida began planning the implementation of a city-wide public WiFi network. City officials had decided that a public WiFi network was a great value for residents and visitors – but also needed a way to offset the costs of implementation. Clermont partnered with Aerohive Networks, vTech io and GoZone WiFi to deploy a city-wide Smart WiFi network.

Cities around the world are in the midst of upgrading systems and making the city of the future a reality today. Smart cities enhance the quality of the life for residents, tourists, and businesses by integrating complex network systems — eco-friendly waste management, sensors that monitor vehicle and pedestrian traffic, events to promote local businesses, and solar-powered infrastructure. An integrated WiFi structure is critical to connecting systems from digital signage to smart lighting to visitor connectivity.

Cities Gain New Insights and Opportunities

Presence analytics offers a city new information on how people navigate through physical spaces, busy days and times, and how long people dwell in high traffic areas.  

Real-time WiFi analytics have the potential to make improvements in areas across the city. With access to traffic heat maps, urban planners can more effectively strategize upgrades in traffic systems and plan public transportation upgrades. City managers can more accurately forecast turnout for public events and prepare for heavy tourism. The best decisions are powered by data.

Today, Clermont uses the WiFi network to promote city-wide events, local businesses, and monetize infrastructure investments through a WiFi advertising platform.  

WiFi Provides Seamless Connectivity to All Users

Residents to local areas and tourists alike demand consistent access to the internet. Often in congested cities, LTE or mobile networks are not accessible due to high usage. Tourists – specifically international tourists – are most likely to visit cities that offer access to safe, secure public WiFi.

A city-wide Smart WiFi system provides users a simple and secure way to connect to the internet. Gone are the days of obtrusive WiFi passwords and worry over public WiFi.

Read More: WiFi Makes Communities Smarter, Safer and More Accessible

Smart WiFi Cities Boost Economic Development

The EDGE District, a downtown district in St. Petersburg, Florida, began working on a plan to create a district-wide WiFi network in October 2018. The goal of the EDGE WiFi network is to provide seamless WiFi connectivity as residents and visitors move through the vibrant downtown district, as well as promote and connect local businesses. The EDGE non-profit organization benefits by promoting district businesses and gaining deeper understanding of its residents and visitors.  

Community economic development is a proven approach to achieve growth by soliciting local involvement to build stronger communities, industries, and markets. Connecting city officials with local residents and stakeholders has proven benefits related to the socio-economic wellbeing of communities.

City-wide Smart WiFi unlocks marketing and communication tools to further social involvement opportunities for residents. As residents log in to the public WiFi network, the smart city can promote upcoming committee meetings, events, and even surveys through a customized guest flow. Imagine the ability to survey residents monthly, weekly, or even daily through a one-to-one engagement, and analyze the results to drive meaningful change. Smart WiFi can be used to building additional trust and engagement within the community.

WiFi Monetization Offsets Infrastructure Costs

As WiFi 6 nears and demands new infrastructure, smart cities are faced with increasing network investment costs. WiFi advertising can offset these costs and even provide additional ROI on a city’s WiFi network. Local and corporate sponsors are looking for more digital, trackable ways to engage with customers, and cities need to subsidize operational costs. It’s a win-win.

Clermont is working with local businesses to create a WiFi advertising network to continue to monetize the public WiFi network. This allows Clermont to continue to offset the costs of its WiFi infrastructure  — while also promoting local businesses to city residents and visitors.

Smart WiFi advertising allows for advertisers to update creative in real-time and track impressions and click-thru-rates (CTRs). As these businesses buy advertising space generated on the splash page, landing page, and automated emails, the city continues to monetize their WiFi network.

Read More: Connected Communities are the Now

When the EDGE District project began, GoZone —  conveniently headquartered within the EDGE District — was able to find a solution to district-wide Smart WiFi through a sponsorship and host model. Through partnerships with local coffee shops, retail boutiques, fitness centers, and restaurants, residents and visitors now have access to secure public WiFi throughout the district. Participating businesses gain access to valuable marketing data and branding during the WiFi login process.  

Sponsors are taking advantage of the advertising opportunities provided by GoZone’s Ads4WiFi platform. Local businesses display ads on the guest flow, landing page, and in subsequent emails, and offset network costs. Sponsors are excited about the ability to reach the active and involved EDGE community in a trackable, affordable way.    

And EDGE is leading the transforming for St. Petersburg into a smarter city, one access point at a time.