A plan to expand the city's public Wi-Fi network in downtown Owen Sound will be considered in budget deliberations this year.
A report by the city's Manager of Information Technology Shawn Hilliker outlining the proposal was discussed at a recent Corporate Services Committee meeting.
According to the report, the new Downtown Wi-Fi plan would extend coverage from City Hall down 2nd Avenue to 10th Street by placing wireless access points along 2nd Avenue East to ensure there are no dead zones. The estimated cost is $40,000.
The staff report explains the city previously had Wi-Fi coverage from City Hall along 2nd Avenue East to Metro in the past by using sponsoring businesses providing their internet connection to power the network. Equipment breakages, participating businesses closing and others simply ending their involvement with the program have reduced downtown Wi-Fi coverage to a limited area around City Hall.
"Downtown Wi-Fi is a great way for increasing tourism and business growth," Hilliker's report explains. "With a strategy in place that builds on citizens' ability to connect, the information that the City learns can be an asset."
The collection of postal codes from users logging on to access the Wi-Fi network is an example of data the city could look at collecting, according to Hilliker, to identify where people that are visiting the downtown core are coming from.
Hilliker notes the equipment installed for this Wi-Fi network would allow the capability to extend the network in other areas of downtown such as the Downtown River Precinct or the Harbour.
Coun. Brock Hamley, who sits on the Corporate Services Committee, says the Wi-Fi plan will come before council during its 2020 capital budget meetings.