Initiative Could Bring Free WiFi to West Baltimore

West Baltimore could soon become home to a free wireless network providing communities within a 7 mile area with better internet connectivity — a tool for jobs and opportunity.

As reported in The Baltimore Sun:

The plan for the Wi-Fi network is one of several initiatives underway in the area under the umbrella of the Innovation Village, a coalition of community groups, public agencies, universities, businesses and others focused on spurring economic growth in West Baltimore.

The goal of the Wi-Fi network is to make it easier for families there to do schoolwork, apply for jobs and navigate a world where reliable internet access has become essential.

OneBaltimore, the nonprofit the city started last year to channel the outpouring of initiatives launched in spring 2015, is backing the start of the Innovation Village Wi-Fi network with $50,000 for a pilot.

More than a quarter of Baltimore households had no internet access in 2014 and about a fifth had no computer, according to the most recent census estimates. That’s about 5 percentage points higher than the national average in both cases.

Without a home internet subscription and a computer, low- and moderate-income families are less likely to shop, bank or apply for jobs online, even if they connect to the internet through a phone or at public access points such as libraries, a recent report on digital equity found. The report cited cost as the major barrier.

For more information read the full article in The Baltimore Sun.