Two of Chicago’s busiest parks will become the latest city locations to offer free wireless internet access. Both Garfield Park and the South Shore Cultural center will have free Wi-Fi by the end of the year, courtesy of Google. “This is core to Google’s mission, which is to make the world’s information universally accessible,” says Google spokesperson Rob Biederman. “Google’s providing all of the funding, but it will be owned and operated by the Park District. We’ll fund the installation and build of the network, and provide free access for three years.”
The internet access is part of the mayor’s Broadband Challenge, an initiative to expand internet access throughout the city. So far the challenge has added free Wi-Fi to five beaches in a partnership with Cisco and Everywhere Wireless, and to Millennium Park through a partnership with Silver Communications. Emanuel says the three-year contract with Google is part of his effort to ensure Chicago is one of the most connected cities in the world. Alderman Jason Ervin says wireless access will help promote education year round for residents near Garfield Park. Alderman Natashia Holmes’ ward includes South Shore Cultural Center. She says the free wi-fi “can only lead to good things,” including attracting businesses to the area.