Adur and Worthing Councils have announced plans for a network of public Wi-Fi spots around the towns in the area.
Their joint strategic committee has approved a £3.7 million fund for the Citizen Wi-Fi project, which follows on from the ongoing programme to provide fibre broadband to 83 council sites as part of a network installation by CityFibre.
The access points will run from a dark fibre connection – from the unused optical fibre on the network – to council assets. A network service provider, a procurement for which has begun, will install and manage the equipment and services.
The next stage for Citizen Wi-Fi will be a design lab exercise, which will involve research and discussion with retailers, shoppers, visitors, freelancers, the digitally excluded and other user groups to ensure it meets all of their needs.
The findings will then support the installation of a series of access points across the area to ensure full coverage for residents and visitors in town centres, open spaces and community buildings.
The network infrastructure will be owned by the councils, giving them control over costs and uses, as well as supporting innovation.
Councillor Edward Crouch, Worthing's executive member for digital and environmental services, said: “A publicly owned, council run Citizen Wi-Fi network for residents and visitors is the next stage of our ambitious plans to make Worthing one of the most digitally connected places in the region.
“Once up and running, it could have a transformative impact on our communities, supporting innovation in high street renewal, tourism, and creative and digital arts. It will also help businesses grow and to provide essential access to the digitally excluded. These are all benefits that I'm sure will be welcomed by all.”
Adur and Worthing – which share a joint management board and digital service – said the fibre network will also support the development of an internet of things network that could be used to support parking, cycling, the use of smart bins and interactive public art.
The whole project been supported by contributions from West Sussex Business Rate Pool (£1.25 million) and Coast to Capital Local Enterprise Partnership (£676,500).
Image by Nicolas Nova, CC BY 2.0