GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Ten Grand Rapids parks now have free public WiFi access thanks to a pilot program supported by CARES Act funding.
The Network in a Box program aims to bridge the digital divide in Grand Rapids, which widened during the pandemic, by providing year-round outdoor internet access, according to a news release Monday.
Parks were selected based on heavy event use, community need and existing infrastructure live pavilions and community gyms that NIB devices could easily attach to.
Selected parks include:
- Ah-Nab-Awen Park
- Belknap Park
- Briggs Park
- Fish Ladder Park
- Garfield Park
- MacKay-Jaycees Park
- Martin Luther King Park
- Richmond Park
- Roosevelt Park
The hotspots have a range of about 900 feet and can support between 30 and 50 devices at a time, depending on usage.
Content access is filtered using the Children’s Internet Protection Act guidelines.
To connect, users will need to select the network when within range of the NIB. No log-in is required to use the network.
“This pilot program is an important step toward ensuring a more connected community in a way that’s free and accessible to residents in our city,” said David Marquardt, the city’s parks and recreation director. “Park visitors can now work, learn and communicate with others while also enjoying the natural beauty of Grand Rapids.”
Kent County offered the NIB equipment purchase and installation to local townships and cities.
The program is currently funded through December.
After the pilot period, the city will determine whether to continue the program based on funding availability, usage and community support.