PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s been 10 years since Mayor Bob O’Connor helped Pittsburgh get onto the ‘information highway’ with the installation of free Wi-Fi in Downtown Pittsburgh and a vision of it going city-wide.
Now a Pittsburgh neighborhood is getting Internet service with no city dollars involved thanks to Pittsburgh’s Google headquarters in Bakery Square.
Current Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto explained how the idea got started.
“So what Google said was, ‘Hey, look, right outside our window are these folks, and we already know there’s a digital divide. We could provide and work with the city to give them wireless access,’” said Peduto.
That is what will happen over the next few months in area of Larimer Avenue and East Liberty, which is undergoing a complete revitalization.
While some of the residents have access through smartphones, many can’t afford it. Kingsley Association’s Malik Bankston says it’s critical for school age children.
“You can’t do homework using a smartphone, you need to be able to have Internet access through a desktop computer or a laptop,” said Bankston.
Without access people are forced to leave home to find public spots where they can go online. Bankston also said the exploring of the Internet is a learning tool critical to the next generation.
Mayor Peduto would like to see this be just the beginning.
“You can provide people with education, you can make sure they have adequate healthcare, you can make sure they have housing, you can make sure they have information and you give them opportunity,” he said.