The ability to connect to the Internet - wherever you are - is what everybody wants these days. Any time, any place anywhere is how it needs to be.
When we were asked to help to provide a busy rural market town with its own WiFi, we realised that simply allowing them to push out a free service wasn't going to be good enough. 'Free' is fine - providing the service works well and it's not going to be abused.
Which is where we needed to approach things a little differently. We didn't just want a free WiFi network, we wanted a SECURE and RELIABLE WiFi network.
How many public WiFi networks have you been on when you've been able to see other people's laptops and phones on there? Connecting to another WiFi enabled device is very simple, so we wanted to ensure that we could prevent this from happening. Being in a rural location meant that connectivity isn't always consistent throughout the town; so we also needed to come up with a way to make sure the network could handle access points dropping in and out. Again, a mild challenge but we achieved it to the point where access points talk to access points and automatically adjust themselves to provide the best service. The next challenge was content. We needed to ensure that the network could be safely used by adults and children without exposure to inappropriate content. This required some clever filtering which provides as child-friendly an experience as it possibly can do.
So, with the WiFi now in place, how has it worked out for the town?
Rather well, actually. Not only can residents, traders and visitors enjoy free and easy connectivity almost anywhere in the town centre, but this little project has enabled a local trader to create a new job for one person as a result of their business being able to deliver a new service. Here's a great example of some clever technology having a positive impact on a local economy!