Well over a year after San Francisco announced a partnership with Google to put free WiFi in San Francisco parks, the service is finally ready for launch.
As reported in July of 2013, Google gave SF a $608,000 grant to pay for equipment, installation, and maintenance of the wireless network for two years. According to the Ex, a planned April launch of the service was delayed because "testing and installation took longer than expected."
It's unclear what the city's plan for managing the program after those two years are up is (calls from SFist to SF's Department of Technology were not returned at publication time), but a 2013 report from TechCrunch says that "Mayor Ed Lee says it will be San Francisco’s responsibility to maintain the network, but it will tap local commerce organization and tech partners for support."
It'll be interesting to see how that plays out, as a plan to set up free WiFi for the whole city several years ago between SF, EarthLink (remember them?), and Google crumbled over, among other things, fears that the tech companies providing the service would profit. Will SF find other tech companies willing to offer selfless support? Guess we have time to figure all that out.
The parks program will be joining SF's free public WiFi network along Market Street from The Embarcadero to the Castro, as well as multiple free hot spots around the city. All free, public, city networks, including those in public housing, City Hall, SFPL branches, and places like the DeYoung Museum and the Legion of Honor will eventually be named #SFWiFi, Miguel Gamino, acting CIO of the Department of Technology told the Ex, making the SF's network that much easier to find. If you need help figuring out how to access the network, here's the city's page on how to connect.
Per a document released by SF's Department of Tech, here are the parks that'll have the WiFi. All, except for Dolores and Boedekker Parks should be up and running today:
1. Alamo Square
2. Balboa Park
3. Bernal Heights Recreation Center
4. Boeddeker Park (WiFi should be available about 30 days after the park's reopening, expected in November 2014)
5. Chinese Recreation Center
6. Civic Center Plaza
7. Corona Heights
8. Crocker Amazon Playground
9. Duboce Park
10. Eureka Valley Rec Center
11. Gene Friend Rec Center/SoMa
12. Hamilton Rec Center
13. Huntington Park
14. Joseph Lee Recreation Center
15. Justin Herman Plaza
16. Margaret Hayward
17. Marina Green
18. Minnie & Lovie Ward Rec Center
19. Mission Dolores Park (WiFi won't be available until after construction is completed, which will be "some time in 2015")
20. Mission Rec Center
21. Palega Recreation Center
22. Portsmouth Square
23. Richmond Recreation Center
24. St Mary’s Playground
25. St Mary’s Square
26. Sue Bierman Park
27. Sunnyside Playground
28. Sunset Playground
29. Tenderloin Children’s Rec Center
30. Union Square
31. Upper Noe Recreation Center
32. Washington Square
According to the Ex, the average speed of SF's public WiFi is 10-15 megabits per second down and 7-10 Mbps up. If those speeds are consistent, we at SFist might actually get dressed, leave the house, and start writing for you from the great outdoors.
Super-psyched about this development? You can always head to the Tenderloin Rec Center at 11 a.m. today, where Supervisor Mark Farrell and Mayor Ed Lee will be joined by Rec and Park General Manager Phil Ginsburg and Gamino to officially kick off the program. Or you can just head to the park, get online, and let us know how it goes!