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In the News Index

Source: Daily Pennsylvanian
Date: June 17, 2004
Byline: James Schneider

Love Park loses wires, offers free computer services to visitors

In a ceremony held on May 15, Philadelphia finally cut the cord. Literally, a yellow Ethernet cord. Figuratively, Philadelphia cut the wire out of Internet access.

Now, at the city's Love Park and the surrounding four to six blocks, residents — and even visitors — can have online access at a high-speed, wireless Internet connection.

And thanks to efforts spearheaded by Philadelphia Mayor John F. Street and Chief Information Officer for the Mayor's Office of Information Services Dianah Neff, they will connect for free.

Love Park has been a famous Philadelphia site since its opening in the 1960s. From the 1980s to April 2002, it was home to skateboarding. Philadelphia then banned skating. Since, it has been home to an unending storm of pro-skater protests. A small group of those skaters were in attendance at the wireless ceremony, holding up skateboards with signs that read, "Skaters LOVE wireless too" and, "Skate the park, surf the web."

James Cartwright, Philadelphia's E-government program manager for the MOIS, spoke first.

"The Internet has impacted the way society communicates just as the railroad, the automobile and the airplane changed the way we travel," he said.

Cartwright went on to highlight the evolution of the Internet.

"The improvements in wireless technology have made it possible for the city of Philadelphia to provide free wireless Internet access right here at the world famous Love Park," he said.

Street also took the podium, located directly under the famed LOVE sculpture, relating a story from his 1999 election days, when an opponent said that he would create "mini town halls," wherein people could take care of their business city-wide.

This opponent then challenged Street, asking him if he'd create such venues. Street said he responded, "No, when I become mayor, there won't be mini town halls, because people won't be doing their business in line, people will be doing their business online."

Street said that he was demonstrating this commitment to technology by making Love Park a wireless "hotspot."

According to Neff, every Friday from noon to 1 p.m. throughout the summer there will be "digital fellows" to assist users.

Once connected, laptop owners will be afforded all the abilities of any wired laptop.

"You can check your e-mail, you can log onto your company's network ... you can do instant messaging with your friends and colleagues and play games online," Neff added.

Thus far, there are wireless "hotspots" at Reading Terminal, the Convention Center and now, Love Park. Plans are in the works for future wireless networks in Washington Park, Franklin Square, Rittenhouse Square and Logan Square. All will be outdoor and all will be free. homepage

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