True to its spirit of innovation, the City of Dayton is moving forward with creating a wireless environment that would allow residents and visitors in open spaces within the city limits to access the Internet from their portable computers and related devices at no cost.

At today’s public meeting, the Dayton City Commission approved testing new wireless fidelity (“WiFi”) services in a limited test area over the next few months before deciding to pursue expansion of the technology citywide. The move makes Dayton the first city in Ohio to initiate citywide, edge-to-edge WiFi coverage. Dayton also becomes the first city nationally to offer a public-private partnership WiFi model that is not funded by taxpayers and comes at no charge to the end user.

Commissioners Joey Williams and Matt Joseph have been strong advocates for using technology to enhance services and quality of life issues for citizens. Both Commissioners were instrumental in bringing this effort to fruition.

“The opportunities available through WiFi technology are tremendous,” Commissioner Williams said. “The easier we make it for residents and businesses to access the Internet and related electronic mediums, the more competitive we become. We also believe offering this type of exciting, pioneering service will go a long way toward helping Dayton attract that ‘creative class’ of people who will help fuel our community’s future success.”

“In addition to offering Internet access for free to residents and visitors, I am excited about the economic development opportunities this new venture presents,” Commissioner Joseph said. “This type of technological asset will help attract businesses and workers interested in the open environment Dayton will offer. This has long-term implications for Dayton’s continued growth as a center for technology and innovation.”

The Dayton City Commission approved a test agreement with HarborLink Network to test and prove a WiFi meshed architecture within an approximately one square-mile area of downtown, which includes the Oregon Business District, RiverScape, Fifth Third Field, Webster Station, and Tech Town areas. The WiFi infrastructure will be located within the City’s public rights of way and on specific City-owned facilities. Within this test area, people will be able to access the Internet at no cost on streets, sidewalks and greenspaces. The initial test agreement with HarborLink will allow the City of Dayton to make determinations about expanding WiFi services throughout the community. If the City decides to expand citywide, it is anticipated that “Requests for Proposals” (RFP) will be solicited from interested vendors by the middle of 2005.

More here.