Home Page ContentPress Releases Watford battles digital exclusion with free Internet to community hubs and sheltered housing

Watford battles digital exclusion with free Internet to community hubs and sheltered housing

by david.nunes

Watford Borough Council and intechnologyWiFi deliver free wireless internet to the town’s community hubs and sheltered housing schemes

The new service is the first phase in the wider project to deliver a free WiFi network across Watford’s town centre, at no cost to taxpayers

5 November 2015: London, UK: Watford Borough Council and intechnologyWiFi today announced that free WiFi has been installed across Watford’s community centres and sheltered housing schemes.

The community hubs and sheltered housing schemes are the first sites to benefit from the wider project of delivering an open, public WiFi service across the town centre. The new WiFi network will provide seamless, ‘always on’ connectivity for users out and about in the town, at no cost and without time or bandwidth limitations.

As the town shortly ushers in the festive period with the Winter in Watford celebrations, work is underway to deliver the next phases of the WiFi network, which are planned to cover the town centre area within the ring road, extending as far as Watford Museum, the Civic Core conservation area, Watford Junction, south-west towards Watford Football Club, Cassiobury Park, West Herts College and the new Croxley Rail Link stations (when constructed).

This first phase of the project within the community hubs and sheltered housing schemes forms a key part of Watford Community Housing Trust’s (WCHT’s) social inclusion mission, as it acts to meet the demands of its residents – 80 per cent of whom had been calling for more services online.

Tina Barnard, Chief Executive of WCHT, said: ‘Helping local residents to get online is important to us. As well as making it quicker and easier to access services, it can also help people to get more involved with what is going on in their local area. We are very proud to be part of this project.’

Tina Barnard and Watford’s mayor, Baroness Dorothy Thornhill, met some early users of the new WiFi network at one of the sheltered housing schemes, Hollytree House, on Thursday 29 October (see accompanying images).

Dorothy Thornhill said: ‘Nearly all of us use the internet nowadays, so it’s wonderful to be extending WiFi to new places in Watford. I’m pleased that residents in sheltered housing are some of the first to benefit – the internet is a great way of accessing public services and keeping in touch with friends and family.’

As well as delivering the public WiFi network, intechnologyWIFi is also developing an official, dedicated mobile application for Watford, which will act as the ‘go-to’ resource on the town for residents and visitors, and will also serve to promote local businesses and deliver services through digital platforms, aligned with the town’s economic, social and community objectives.

Because intechnologyWiFi owns all of its hardware and software – and possess the in-house expertise required to design, install and maintain a public WiFi network from conception to completion – it is able to provide this technology at no cost to the council or its users.

Connecting users to smooth, wireless high-speed internet access, intechnologyWiFi will support Watford as it makes the transition to becoming a smart town and enable residents to benefit from the growing Internet of Things (IoT) industry. Utilising a new robust WiFi network, the council could, in the future, harness new technologies to better manage its urban ecosystem – including improved local traffic, public transport, utilities and education services.

Natalie Duffield, CEO of intechnologyWiFi, said:

‘As a key partner in Watford’s digital transformation, it’s exciting to support the council to deliver better connectivity to its residents, businesses and visitors. This first phase of delivery is the beginning of a transformative journey for the town as it becomes a digital leader, and I’m very proud to see our services start to go live for the benefit of users in Watford’s community centres.

‘City planners are increasingly looking to free, public WiFi providers to support them in achieving seamless connectivity, whether they mean to ensure that no member of the community faces digital exclusion, or are looking to further smart city initiatives to improve safety and the environment, manage traffic effectively and support the local economy.’

About intechnologyWiFi

intechnologyWiFi is part of InTechnology plc and is owned by Peter Wilkinson, one of the UK’s most successful technology entrepreneurs, with a proven track record of delivering profitable, free technical solutions, including the first free consumer internet service, Freeserve.

In a market flooded with providers of free, public WiFi, intechnologyWiFi is the only company with the financial power, technical expertise and resources to deliver a complete, end-to-end network and content solution for towns and cities, at no cost to councils and their users. Its unique offering also includes the development and delivery of an accompanying content package, delivered via bespoke mobile apps, ready to drive revenue streams for councils from usage of the WiFi network.

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