It appears that New Orleans will be the next city to implement free, city-wide wireless Internet access. Yes, that New Orleans, the one that was completely submerged in water a few months ago courtesy Hurricane Katrina. Seems that the devastation of the city is what brought on the free WiFi:
New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin has announced an unprecedented project wherein the entire city will be blanketed by free WiFi within a year. Due to the almost complete devastation of the city’s infrastructure, the free Internet access is one attempt to turn the city’s stagnant economy into one of growth and independence. Like in most large-scale networks, the New Orleans routers will be placed on top of street lights and provide citizens and businesses with 512 kbps download speeds until the city’s state of emergency has been lifted.
I think it’s sad that it takes the destruction of a city to get something like this off the ground, but I think New Orleans will be much better off for it in the long run. And yes there are probably a lot of other projects that require funding and effort to rebuild the city, but I think it’s good the people in charge there are looking beyond just “rebuilding”.