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Vice Mayor Uses Facebook To Show Appeal For WiFi In Parks

By Kendra Ablaza, Staff Writer

January 29, 2013 - A proposal to provide free wireless Internet (WiFi) access in city parks is receiving positive feedback from Long Beach residents – at least those with a Facebook account.

Vice Mayor Robert Garcia tested the idea on Facebook last weekend and his post on the subject has generated more than 600 “likes.” The proposal now appears on the city council’s February 5 agenda. Currently, free WiFi is available at city hall, the Long Beach Airport and most city libraries.

Long Beach has been named a top 10 digital city two years in a row due to investment in digital technology, according to city officials. City staff attributes part of that accomplishment to: the city smartphone application; the use of social media; document management systems; online videos; fiber optics connections; online permits and licenses; Internet-based phone technology; virtual servers; and workstations.

“Adding WiFi in parks would not only help solidify our status as a digital leader, but would have the potential to attract private investment by businesses that are part of the technology sector, or depend on technology infrastructure to carry out their business model,” Garcia said in a statement. “We need to take advantage of all of our city’s strengths in order to support continued economic expansion, and adding WiFi to parks would do just that.”

Garcia’s proposal requires the city manager to investigate the costs and benefits of including WiFi in new city parks and partnerships with WiFi providers. A report must also be forwarded to the parks and recreation commission within 90 days for discussion and recommendations before returning the item to city council for approval.

The item is co-sponsored by Councilmembers Suja Lowenthal, Gerrie Schipske, and Steven Neal.