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Chicago's plan for free WiFi in all public spaces

Chicago is looking to significantly upgrade its digital infrastructure.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced a major push earlier this week to significantly improve the city's digital infrastructure.

As part of the plan the mayor wants to establish an ultra-high speed broadband network and provide free WiFi in all public spaces. The city got things started by offering free WiFi at one of its most popular public spaces, Millenium Park, in partnership with SilverIP.

“Chicago will be one of the most connected cities in the world,” said Mayor Emanuel. “The establishment of a world-class broadband network in Chicago will create thousands of jobs and dramatically improve educational opportunities, economic development, health care services, and general quality of life throughout the city."

Emanuel is calling the initiative the Chicago Broadband Challenge because he will seek ideas from the public as well as from private companies, universities, and nonprofit organizations to help build up the network. In addition to free WiFi, the mayor would like to see open, gigabit-speed networks (about the speed of Google's network in Kansas City ) built in 15 specific "innovation zones" throughout the city. The other aspect of the program is to expand high-speed Internet in the city's poorer neighborhoods.

The city is looking to keep costs low by leveraging and expanding existing digital infrastructure.

[Via Chicago Tribune, City of Chicago]

Photo: Flickr/Stuck in Customs

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com