If you’re visiting town and are out and about, getting info on the Walker and other cultural institutions in the city via the web just got easier. Minneapolis’ city-wide wireless network now lets users access walkerart.org without being a subscriber. Here’s how it works:
On your computer, select the “City of Minneapolis Public WiFi” network.
Open your browser and point yourself to walkerart.org. That should do it. You may be directed to a user agreement log in screen and then the “walled garden” of Minneapolis city information and lists of other accessible community sites. The Walker is listed under Area Arts & Culture > Arts & Museums > Art Museums.
A brief history of Minneapolis Municipal WiFi
Several years ago, the City of Minneapolis joined with USI Wireless to build out a city-wide network. The goal was to provide access for city government and citizens. The city would be a core tenant, paying USI, and USI would sell access to citizens. The city required USI to build a community portal and USI must provide grants out of it’s profits to non-profits working to bridge the digital divide.
Over the last several years, the network has slowly been built out. Right now there are some problem areas, which include Loring Park and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. My understanding is that these areas should see service sometime soon, though I’m not sure of any exact plans on the Sculpture Garden.
There are a couple things I have really liked about the network:
- We’re doing it. A lot of cities have talked about building municipal wifi, and then discover large problems and things don’t work well. There have been some issues with in Minneapolis, it is taking longer to build the network than originally thought, but my impression is that it has worked fairly well.
- It’s network neutral. The agreement between the city and USI specifically requires USI to not hinder any type of traffic over another.
- Parts of it are free. This is how you can get to our site for free.
- It’s low cost. The cost for being a subscriber is pretty low, compared to other wire-based providers.
- It’s local. USI is a local company.
For more information on the network and the history, Peter Fleck has been blogging about Minneapolis WiFi for some time.