In ASK LBMC, a part of the Long Beach Media Collaborative’s Strengthening the Signal series, our reporters answer your questions about the digital divide in Long Beach. To submit your question or vote on what the next question we tackle will be, click here.
Question: “Could Long Beach parks and community centers provide free Wi-fi, much like libraries do? What about business districts?”
Many of the city’s parks and community centers can and do provide the public with free Wi-fi, helping to bridge the digital divide for the 16% of residents who lack access at home.
And there’s more work being done to increase connectivity in Long Beach, with city leaders on the verge of unveiling a Fiber Master Plan to improve the fiber network and otherwise upgrade outdated digital infrastructure. It’s a potential $88 million move that could connect more city facilities to high-speed internet.
In the meantime, here are all the parks and community centers where you can find free public access today, according to city officials:
- Belmont Pool
- Bixby Park
- Cesar E. Chavez Park
- DeForest Park
- Drake Park
- El Dorado Park
- Houghton Park
- King Park
- Leeway Sailing & Aquatics Center
- Long Beach Senior Citizens Center
- MacArthur Park
- McBride Park
- Orizaba Park
- Ramona Park
- Recreation Park Community Center
- Scherer Park
- Silverado Park
- Silverado Pool
- Stearns Champions Park
- Veterans Memorial Park
- Wardlow Park
- Whaley Park
Free access also is found at City Hall, the 12 branches of the Long Beach Library system and at the Long Beach Airport.
Beyond those sites, one North Long Beach neighborhood has been transformed into a “smart corridor” called UpLink, offering city-provided internet service at five access points along Atlantic Avenue between Jordan High School, Houghton Park and the Michelle Obama Library.
“It’s the first step in using technology as an economic development tool to activate a corridor,” according to Vice Mayor and Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson, who allocated one-time infrastructure funds last year to pay for the project based on participatory budgeting.
Besides that corridor, there are no other city streets or official business improvements districts offering free Wi-fi in the city, but many private businesses do offer it as a complimentary service for customers, particularly at local coffee shops, fast-food chains and restaurants.