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Mayor Emanuel announces free wi-fi at two busy Chicago parks courtesy of Google

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Google will be sponsoring completely free WiFi Internet service at two of Chicago's busiest parks: Garfield Park and South Shore Cultural Center. The new Wi-Fi network is projected to roll out at Garfield Park and South Shore Cultural Center by the end of the year, according to a press release.

The agreement is part of a broader city initiative called the Chicago Broadband Challenge, which envisions free Wi-Fi at public parks, beaches and other spaces.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Chicago Park District made the announcement today and that Google has a three-year agreement to allow park patrons to enjoy free wireless Internet service while visiting these facilities. This initiative underlines Mayor Emanuel’s continuing pledge to boost free wireless service to parks and public spaces across Chicago.

The wireless access will be completely free to users as part of Google’s sponsorship. Google will also fund the construction of the network and will finance monthly maintenance costs for up to three years.

"I will continue to work to ensure the entire City of Chicago is one of the most connected cities in the world," said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. "By increasing the access to high speed Internet in Chicago homes, businesses and public places, we are fortifying the City’s force in the global economy.”"

Jim Lecinski, Vice President of US Sales and Service and head of Google’s Chicago Office, said "Google is excited to partner with Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Park District to bring new, free connectivity for Chicago residents. This is core to our mission, to make the world's information universally accessible by enabling more people to get online."

"Wireless Internet service is a necessity in today’s society and it is justified that the public spaces in a global city such as Chicago are connected," said Chicago Park District General Superintendent Michael Kelly. "The availability of Wi-Fi at these locations allows visitors to enjoy park amenities and the ability to remain connected."

Alderman Natashia Holmes, 7th Ward, whose ward encompasses the South Shore Cultural Center said, "Free Wi-Fi can only lead to good things such as expanding economic opportunities in the 7th ward and attracting businesses to the area. Considering also that Rainbow Beach is the only south side beach with free Wi-Fi, having free Wi-Fi now at the South Shore Cultural Center will only enhance upon the progress already made."

Alderman Jason Ervin, 28th Ward, whose ward encompasses Garfield Park said, "Wireless internet is a key resource in promoting education year around, and this addition will continue to make Garfield Park a growing neighborhood attraction for our West Side Community. Families, students, and visitors will appreciate Google bringing this resource to the West Garfield Park community."

Last July, Mayor Emanuel and the Chicago Park District announced that five city beaches would offer free Wi-Fi to visitors. Beachgoers are able to access free high-speed Wi-Fi at North Avenue, Osterman/Hollywood, Montrose, Foster and Rainbow beaches. Through a partnership with Cisco and Everywhere Wireless, which began in May, the Chicago Park District identified five beach locations with existing infrastructure that accommodates Wi-Fi connectivity.

Additionally, free wireless service has been available at Millennium Park since September 2012, through a partnership with Silver Communications.

Send John Presta an email and your story ideas or suggestions, johnpresta@att.net.

John is the author of an award-winning book, the 2010 Winner of the USA National Best Book award for African American studies, published by The Elevator Group, Mr. and Mrs. Grassroots. Also available an eBook on Amazon. John is also a member of the Society of Midland Authors and is a book reviewer of political books for the New York Journal of Books. John has volunteered for many political campaigns.

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