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Identity & Community

City To Install Free Wi-Fi In 22 Community Centers

Mora McLaughlin
90.5 WESA

Anyone who visits a Community Recreation and Healthy Active Living Center in Pittsburgh can meet with neighbors or grab a bite to eat. Now, they can also surf the internet with free Wi-Fi.

Citiparks and the Department of Innovation and Performance announced the installation of free Wi-Fi in 22 of its centers throughout the city.

The announcement was made at the Greenfield Healthy Active Living Center on Wednesday.

“We have here, in this facility, both a recreation center and a Healthy Active Living Center, or senior center, so it really provides a great opportunity with the cross-section of the community who’s most in need,” said Citiparks Director Jim Griffin.

Wi-Fi enables visitors of the community centers to video chat with family members, search for job opportunities or work on a resume. Citiparks will also host how-to classes for those who aren't internet savvy and career preparation seminars.

“As part of the mayor’s vision, we really wanted to build out digital infrastructure and the first point is obviously in our community – in our community facilities headed by Citiparks,” said Debra Lam, chief innovation and performance officer.

Lam said many people have the technology but don't have the infrastructure to complete many necessary tasks.

“A lot of the studies that we found showed that most people and a growing number of people have access to a smart device," she said. "The biggest issue that they had was the data. You know, how do we actually connect to the internet, how do we actually utilize that?” 

The Wi-Fi installation was made possible by an $11,500 grant from the Grable Foundation, as well as a partnership with Comcast and the Neighborhood Learning Alliance. Comcast will bill the locations at a discounted rate.

This Wi-Fi installation is part of a bigger “Roadmap for Inclusion Innovation,” a program started by the mayor’s office last September to make technology, city resources and information easier to access for all citizens.

“I think it really is important that this goes along the theme of equity and fairness,” Griffin said. "Breaching that digital divide across all spectrums of the city, whether you’re rich or poor.”