City of Shreveport expanding access to free Wi-Fi
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - The City of Shreveport says they want to make sure everyone has access to internet.
During the pandemic, the city noticed a big divide in access to Wi-Fi. With the help of Shreve Memorial Libraries, a new service called Universal Digital Access is hoping to bridge the gap.
The program will allow people to check out Wi-Fi boxes the same way they would check out a book.
“During the pandemic is when it really became apparent that something needed to be done, because our children especially children who lived in areas where they did not have access, and they needed access just to get an education. Not only for children, grown-ups who may want to work from home, elderly people who may want access medical services via the internet,” Ivy Woodard, public relations communications specialist with Shreve Memorial Library.
The mayor’s office says internet service is not always affordable for many residents who earn less than $35,000 per year, which is 42.8% of the city’s population.
“Having stable internet is something everyone wants, but not everyone can afford,” said Mayor Adrian Perkins. “Partnering with the Shreve Memorial Library system to offer free wireless hot spots is a game-changer for those living around these libraries. They will now be able to access the internet from their homes allowing them to work or learn remotely.”
They then studied which areas are in the most need of high-speed web service.
“We put censors on our garbage trucks to go around out to go around the city and ping where internet signals were, and we discovered that there was a huge digital desert on the west side of our city,” said Perkins.
“Providing access to information resources is the main purpose of public libraries,” said John Tuggle, Shreve Memorial Library executive director. “The economic and educational synergy created by these types of digital equity efforts boosts our communities’ abilities to grow and prosper. Universal Digital Access is a win-win for everyone.”
Starting on Nov. 1, those with a library card will be able to access the boxes at the Hollywood, Atkins and Cedar Grove locations.
HOW THE PROGRAM WORKS
- Library patrons can check out a Universal Digital Access kit from select Shreve Memorial Library locations
- Kits allow residents within the cell network coverage area to connect to the library’s Wi-Fi from home
- Participants must have a library card to check out a kit
- Kits will be checked out for six months at a time
- Kits are available on a first come, first served basis
The program is currently in beta testing. It’s expected to be available to the public starting Nov. 1. During the pilot phase, kits will be available for checkout at the follow library branches:
- Hollywood/Union Avenue - 2105 Hollywood Ave.
- Atkins - 3704 Greenwood Rd.
- Cedar Grove-Line Avenue - 8303 Line Ave.
The mayor’s office says there are plans in place to expand the program to more library branches in the future.
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