Congratulations to WirelessToronto for launching free wireless internet access at the Duffering Grove Park. The announcement below is from the May edition of the Dufferin Grove Park newsletter (edited).
Dufferin Grove Park Wireless Internet Launch – Saturday and Sunday May 27 and 28, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Organized by Gabe Sawhney of Wireless Toronto. Gabe is part of a volunteer group who think that free wireless internet access connects people better in communities, and is the right way to go. The group in Toronto is just over a year old. We asked Gabe to give an example of what wireless internet is good for, and he sent this story: "One of the most active community wireless groups is in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois. They coordinated the installation of a community wireless network in New Orleans within days of the hurricane. That network was powered using batteries, solar, and other off-grid sources, and provided the only communications infrastructure in some areas for weeks. The group also set up low-power FM transmitters to help inform people about what was going on."
In the past year Wireless Toronto set up a number of free wireless internet access points in Toronto, around St.Lawrence Market and various coffee shops and one pub. But they wanted to expand to the open air. They contacted a small startup company called Kijiji to ask if they would sponsor a year’s free wireless internet at a park.
Kijiji was started by some E-bay employees in Dublin, Ireland, to create free local internet bulletin boards. On their web site they say these are locations where "people could find a home, get a job, share their interests with friends, invite the public to an event, find an item they were looking for, or even to offer a gift. The word «Kijiji» means «village» in Swahili. We chose this name with the hope of recreating the atmosphere of a village within each community. The Internet has done wonders to connect people from different horizons and to help ideas travel. But what about creating a sense of belonging to a community in your own city? We would like to fuel the feeling that your community can also become a village where each one joins efforts and helps each other out."
So Kijiji agreed to the park sponsorship, and Gabe contacted Dufferin Grove Park. City of Toronto officials said that although it’s a good idea, they were not ready to give Wireless Toronto permission to install wireless internet at the park. But a park neighbour offered his house as the point of entry. So wireless internet will come to Dufferin Grove Park in the same way so much else has come to the park – from the neighbourhood. On May 27 and 28, there will be Wireless Toronto volunteers out in the park, showing people how to use the free Kijiji buy-and-sell internet bulletin board, and answering questions about Wireless Toronto.
Many of the Wireless Toronto members also belong to a brand new group called Citizens for Open Access to Civic Information and Data. Their web site says they’re "a group of citizens which believes all levels of government should make civic information and data accessible at no cost in open formats to their citizens. We believe this is necessary to allow citizens to fully participate in the democratic process of an ‘information society."