Toronto launches free WiFi program in underserved communities

The program has launched at 200 and 210 Woolner, a pair of high-rises in the Rockcliffe-Smythe community


The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted more of our lives online, from education to work, communication to contact tracing. But there’s an economic disparity dictating who has access to internet and who doesn’t. So there’s been a push to increase access to those who need it. Enter Digital Canopy.

In April, the city announced it would team up with a variety of tech companies and service providers to provide internet to vulnerable and underserved communities. That program is Digital Canopy, which launched today – a $1 million partnership with Cisco Canada to bring free Meraki WiFi access points to low-income residential towers in Toronto.

The first Digital Canopy site is live at 200 and 210 Woolner Avenue, a pair of high-rises in the Rockcliffe-Smythe community. The move will give free internet access to approximately 2,000 residents.

The city of Toronto plans to provide up to 25 free WiFi hotspot sites by the end of 2020, including in neighbourhoods like Thorncliffe Park, West Hill and Scarborough Village. That would connect 6,600 units and approximately 13,000 citizens in low-income residential towers, they say in a release. The hotspots would provide free internet for up to one year.

“With the reduced access to many public spaces across the city, now more than ever it is critical we make the digital realm accessible for all,” said Lawrence Eta, Toronto’s chief technology officer.

Public libraries have also reopened for computer and internet access and have been bringing WiFi to parks.

The digital divide is becoming more urgent as stores and restaurants implement more technology such as QR codes for paperless menus and online payment.

In another example, Ontario has been criticized for how it has implemented its COVID Alert app, which doesn’t work on phones over five years old – limiting access and reducing its effectiveness.

@trapunski

Comments (1)

  • Carole Paul September 11, 2020 03:16 PM

    I am glad to see some people get Internent . I think that people should try and see what life is like without a computer for a week! In my building most of us are barley getting from the first of one month to the next. During lockdown it was terrible. I think after 65 if one is on low income the politians should figure out a way of helping. It is no longer a luxury. How about from the Mayor right up to the Prime Minister. Could they make it through a day. I would like to see that!!!

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