Attention local laptop users, duking it out for the nearest coffeehouse outlet and free internet: There’s a new source in town. Just in time for spring, Congress Park is now offering free WiFi access through the Saratoga Free Public network. “This is a great step forward by the city led by Commissioner Michelle Madigan’s Smart City initiative,” says Todd Shimkus, President of the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce. The Smart City Project aims to find new and sustainable opportunities for economic growth and an overall enhanced quality of life for all Saratogians.
Commissioner Madigan spearheaded the initiative and leads the Smart City Commission, which is composed of representatives from the Saratoga Springs City School District, Saratoga Hospital, Saratoga Springs Public Library, Skidmore College, Empire State College, Saratoga County Supervisor, National Grid, Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce and the city itself. The various entities have been working on enhancing the Spa City’s telecommunications and broadband services since March of last year. The first step? Free public WiFi.
The service may be free for residents and tourists, but it didn’t come without a price-tag. It cost the city $7,000 to set up the necessary infrastructure, and it costs an additional $119.99 per month to make the free network available. Annual support and equipment maintenance costs $329 per year. Madigan originally hoped to make the Saratoga Free Public network available last summer, but the process took longer than expected. Now that it’s up and running, WiFi will be more accessible around the Canfield Casino, which the city hopes will help facilitate operations in the facility and make the location more attractive for events like weddings and fundraisers.
As for the next neighborhood with public WiFi, Madigan has her sights set on Broadway, followed by the area surrounding the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. “I’m hoping we can light up more of the city in the days, weeks, months and years to come,” Shimkus continues. “I think we have a decent percentage of people who live here in Saratoga who work remotely for and with firms around the US and the world. I suspect you’ll see many of them, as well as students, out in Congress Park working on their laptops as the weather gets warmer.”