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Community project aims to bring free Wi-Fi to heart of East Price Hill

Now more than ever, internet access is crucial. Yet, there are many people who don’t have it at home. A pilot project in East Price Hill, Cincinnati is trying to bridge the digital divide between low-income residents and those without internet access. The Center for Community Solutions is conducting research across the state and is partnering with the Cincinnati Public Library to provide free Wi-Fi. The project is also seeking grants totaling $50,000 to extend the Wi- Fi access even further, with the goal of providing outdoor living rooms at St. Lawrence Square.

Community project aims to bring free Wi-Fi to heart of East Price Hill

Published : a week ago by, Marella Porter, WKRC in

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Now more than ever, internet access is crucial. Yet, there are many people who don’t have it at home.

The Center for Community Solutions is an Ohio-based policy and research think tank, which conducts research across the state focused on community issues.

Its findings show Cincinnati residents from low-income households are 10 times more likely not to have an internet subscription, and, according to census data, 18,000 people in the city only have access to the internet on their phone.

A pilot project in Price Hill is trying to bridge that digital divide in the neighborhood, with hopes of expanding to other parts of Cincinnati and across Hamilton County, if it’s successful.

Two designers from the University of Cincinnati’s DAAP program are working with Price Hill Will and the Cincinnati Public Library to provide free Wi-Fi, something the neighborhood really needs.

“There’s a large population that doesn’t have access to Wi-Fi. You’ll often see little pockets of people in the neighborhood around where they can get free Wi-Fi. One of those locations is down the street at the rec center. You’ll see people perched up against the window trying to get the free Wi-Fi. You can get free Wi-Fi at the library and there’s other pockets around restaurants where you can get free Wi-Fi. So, it’s obviously a great need in the neighborhood, and people are trying to get access to it,” said Sam Conover, community engagement director of Price Hill Will.

Anca Matyiku is one of the designers heading the “Nodes” project. It stands for Neighborhoods of Design Engagement. She says the idea is to create an outdoor living room at St. Lawrence Square, where people can connect, and use library resources and the internet.

“We’re creating places where people can sit, where they can hang out, where they can be with their neighbors, be on the internet, get on the library resources without having to physically go there,” said Matyiku.

For the past year, Nodes has used a community bulletin board posted at the square to get feedback and learn what people want to see there.

Free Wi-Fi access is what will drive the project.

Trischler says people will be able to access the Wi-Fi if they’re within eyeshot of the square.

Conover says Price Hill Will has also applied for grants totaling $50,000 to extend the Wi-Fi access even further.

“We have some grant asks out now for putting 12 routers along the entire Warsaw Avenue neighborhood business district,” she said.

Campbell says it’s nice to see a “holistic” approach being taken by communities.

“Recognizing that you need all the pieces of the puzzle in order to help everyone in the community be able to move forward, and that digital access is so important for health, for jobs, for education, for entertainment, and for daily life,” she said.

The Nodes project is trying to raise $3,000 to provide the free Wi-Fi at St. Lawrence Square for three years. Click here to learn more and donate.

Price Hill Will says the grant it applied for would provide free access further along Warsaw Avenue for three to five years, and it hopes to hear back within a month.

In March, Ohio launched a program called “BroadbandOhio,” which dedicated billions of dollars to expanding high-speed internet for families in need.

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