The leader of Renfrewshire Council surveyed progress on the local authority’s public wifi project today as he visited Johnstone to meet the team working on the flagship scheme.
Boston Networks has completed its outdoor surveys for the £1 million project in Paisley, Johnstone and Renfrew town centres. Indoor surveys are due to begin in the next few weeks.
The free-to-use public access wifi service will be launched in Paisley and Johnstone town centres in the autumn, with Renfrew joining the network later this year.
The new system will allow visitors, residents and local businesses to get online for free while out-and-about in the town centres and will give students access to Eduroam, a worldwide education network that lets them view educational resources away from the classroom.
It will also be installed in 25 public and community buildings, including all libraries, in Renfrewshire later this year, with more set to be added to the network in the future.
Scott McEwan, Chief Executive of Boston Networks, said: “Our project to design and deliver the enterprise grade public wifi network is now fully underway, and we are delighted to have reached the first major milestone with the completion of the town centre surveys ahead of schedule.
“We recognise the value the network will bring to Renfrewshire Council and their partners and residents, and we look forward to continuing to contribute to the future of Renfrewshire by delivering high speed wireless connectivity across the area.”
The project is part of the Council’s digital participation strategy, which is designed to promote digital inclusion. It will support local businesses, increase visitors to the town centres and tackle the issue of digital exclusion, a problem that often affects people on low incomes, older adults and people with disabilities or long-term health conditions.
It is currently estimated that around 20% of people in Scotland are unable to access services and opportunities online because they do not have an internet connection at home.
The Council’s work to tackle the digital divide recently received national recognition, with the local authority securing two nominations in both the Digital Leaders 100 and Holyrood Connect awards.
Council Leader Iain Nicolson said: “This is a fantastic project that will build on the Council’s work to tackle the issue of digital exclusion in Renfrewshire.
“Not only will it get more people in Renfrewshire online, it will bring more visitors to the town centres, giving them an economic boost.
“The recent recognition of our digital efforts at a national level reinforces that our current approach to closing the digital divide is working. This project will take this work a stage further and will help us ensure that everyone in Renfrewshire has the opportunity to reach their digital potential.”