13 outdoor public WiFi spots launch in San Mateo County

in Community

San Mateo County’s ever expanding network of free public WiFi locations now includes 13 new outdoor locations in San Mateo, South San Francisco, Brisbane and Daly City, as well as outside 12 libraries countywide, allowing library patrons, students and the public to use them.

It’s part of the Digital Inclusion Initiative that launched in August to support students with connectivity issues after schools transitioned to distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic.

New locations where the public can connect include Health and Human Services-WIC and the San Mateo Medical Center in San Mateo; Daly City Community Center, Doelger Senior Center, Lincoln Community Center and Midway Village; Brisbane Community Pool, Magnolia Senior Center, South San Francisco City Hall, Miller Avenue Public Parking Garage, South San Francisco Adult Probation Office, and Orange Memorial Park.

The latest public WiFi expansion was completed in two months “to support the second half of the school year starting in January 2021,” officials said.

Since its start in August 2020, the Digital Inclusion Initiative “has subsidized in-home internet services and mobile internet hotspots to 650 students, established two communitywide SMC Public WiFi locations in Redwood City and East Palo Alto, and established multiple Park and Connect Sites,” according to the County. These efforts connected over 1,000 students from four school districts, and the latest expansion provides “free wireless internet access to approximately 1,428 K-12 students who had reported connectivity issues at home and live within a half-mile radius of the 25 locations, along with all the other residents who reside near these sites.”

The new sites were funded using a portion of the $6.3 million CARES Act dollars allocated by the San Mateo County Board of Supervisors.

“Access to the internet is a necessity in modern society and the pandemic has made clear that it’s time to treat the Internet as a utility just like water and electricity,” District 1 Supervisor Dave Pine said in a statement. “The successful expansion of SMC Public WiFi is a step in the right direction in ensuring that all members of our community have access to the Internet and the countless opportunities it affords them.”

An interactive map of over 100 SMC Public WiFi locations can be accessed here.

Photo credit: San Mateo County Health