May 24, 2013 - 4:08 PM
Vernon is hoping to open doors in the community by handing out the key to free internet access. In a few months, free public Wi-Fi will be available in approximately 23 locations in the City of Vernon and across the North Okanagan.
The signal will blanket various parks and recreation centers, as well as the whole of downtown Vernon. It's a way to connect locals and tourists alike with the information they need while on the go. Even if it was already at their fingertips, now there's no financial barrier to cross.
Want to check movie listings while strolling Polson Park? Getting hungry while touring the Vernon museum and looking for a place to eat? Need to book a haircut from Kal beach?
Now you can, and it'll cost you zip because the city would rather you spend money at local businesses than on your internet.
Coun. Mary-Jo O'Keefe believes the service will help guide the public to merchants' doorsteps. "This gives the consumer an ease of access," she says. "It's just one more way to make it easier for people to find our businesses."
With smart phones and tablets having largely displaced visitor centers and tourist maps, making online resources accessible is key to introducing visitors to the city. At the same time, locals have also come to rely on their handheld encyclopedias to tell them where to go for dinner, or how to find shops.
"Even before society became so electronically-driven, it was all about how to make things easy for consumers," O'Keefe says. "This was an essential step in keeping up with the times."
The service will be provided through Shaw Cablesystems and open to everyone. Non-Shaw customers will be able to sign up by simply authenticating their electronic device with the Shaw Go Wi-Fi network to enjoy up to 250 Megabytes of download per month.
Aside from tourists and local shoppers, O'Keefe believes the service will benefit businesses in another way.
"I do a lot of my business out of the office," she says. "It costs me $20 per month for 3G internet."
O'Keefe runs a wine touring company, and during meetings with clients at public venues, she likes to show them how to book the tour. If there's no complimentary internet, she has to use her 3G.
"It'll be a cost-saving for business people that work on the go," she says.
Wayne Ikesaka, manager of information services for the city believes the service will be especially helpful for residents including soccer moms and dads needing to multi-task while their kid is playing at one of the city's parks or recreational facilities.
"It's a great thing for residents and visitors alike," Ikesaka says, noting Kal Tire Place, Marshall Fields, and Justice Park are just a few of the places you'll be able to cruise on the internet and still have money in your pocket for a new pair of sneakers.
Ikesaka expects the service to be up and running in 3-4 months. Now all Vernon needs is some centrally located plug-in stations for people to charge up their passports to the city and it'll be good to Go—WiFi.
To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (250)309-5230.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2013