There are 23.4 million hotspots across America right now. But to say that we live in a connected country would be misleading. The majority of these hotspots are isolated oases of WiFi amongst a desert of disconnection. It doesn’t have to be this way. The technology to create smart, connected cities through WiFi isn’t in the future; it exists right now. GoZone WiFi already delivers Smart WiFi solutions to hundreds of cities, neighborhoods and communities across eight countries.
A connected city is a model that works for everyone, from the local businesses and economic development councils, to tourism boards and even city infrastructure departments. And — most important of all — the citizens of the city.
What keeps municipalities from making the leap to become smart, connected destinations? City officials cite budget constraints, lack of resources, and policy hurdles as the three top barriers to implementing smart WiFi solutions.
I disagree. I think the greatest barrier is the one they listed at the bottom. “Short-term mindset.” Not on the part of the municipality officials, necessarily. The responsibility to deliver new models and solutions falls to those of us in the WiFi industry. We are the experts of our technology. We need to think way outside the box to show cities how it can work for them.
GoZone WiFi has launched a new model that blankets a district, or an entire city, with public WiFi. This model establishes WiFi as a public service, but it also monetizes guest WiFi and provides valuable insights for the businesses that sponsor the service.
SMB Sponsorship Model Removes Cost Barrier
Launching city-wide public WiFi can be an expensive endeavor. Consider not just the cost of installing all of the equipment, but the ongoing provider costs. Every year, a large city could spend millions on this public service.
Or, it could deploy a mutually-beneficial WiFi sponsorship model to local businesses.
Consider a main street in a vibrant downtown area. A global destination and ideal urban living place. Rooted in a rich history of pioneering and industry, the district is a beautiful environment that promotes a connected, active community, with plenty of restaurants, coffee shops, bars, retailers and other local businesses. Most of these businesses offer traditional, limited value guest WiFi, protected behind a password.
Nobody likes passwords. Employees have to remember them. Customers have to ask for them. Business owners have to change them every time their data is compromised. Moreover, traditional guest WiFi has no marketing or advertising opportunities and provides basically worthless analytical data.
By rolling out Smart WiFi across the main street district as part of a community business initiative, each local business receives a new marketing and customer analytics platform, a more secure network through a captive portal login system, and greater control of WiFi usage within their establishment. The customers receive easy access to guest WiFi without the need for passwords.
The district now boasts ubiquitous WiFi access for its residents and visitors, without the city having to shoulder the cost of the entire network. In this shared business-to-municipality model, each business receives customer data for remarketing, and district leaders have access to district-wide analytics and guest demographics.
Budget constraints? Solved.
Sponsorship Model Solves the Resources Issue
If a city implements free, public WiFi internally, it is a logistical and resource-planning nightmare. By partnering with a WiFi Solutions company, communities can remove that barrier quickly. For example, GoZone WiFi installed all of the required controllers and worked directly with the local service provider.
A Smart WiFi platform is only as useful as you make it, so we took the next step to make sure every local business that signed up received our full onboarding experience and access to our resources. This is exactly the kind of service customers should expect from providers. Even a turnkey, cloud-based product has an associated learning and ramp-up period. Whether you’re Times Square or Mike’s Coffee & Donuts, you should expect your smart WiFi provider to make sure you’re getting the most out of your new tool.
Lack of resources? We’ve got that covered. We know smart cities are the NOW, not the future. For municipalities ready to lead the charge, the final barrier is policy work. Here too, it helps to have a partner.
Writing Policies For the Future
Government officials have a reputation for being resistant to change. The farther up the government chain of command you go, the more resistance you’re apt to experience. Part of this is due to a lack of trusted, expert information.
Cities can lead the charge for change by bringing their telecommunications and Smart WiFi solutions providers to the table. Present the challenges to an audience that has a pulse on the technology available (and soon to be available), that live in your communities, and work with your local businesses. Work collaboratively with your trusted, expert vendors to inform new policies.
It is our responsibility as the ambassadors of WiFi to help craft its future. And it’s present. To do so, we need to look at the reasons why an industry — or a city — is resistant to adoption, and then present new solutions that tear those barriers down.