20 August 2015
In addition to offering schools, libraries and public areas free wireless service, Tshwane’s ground-breaking Free Public Wi-Fi initiative, run by non-profit organisation Project Isizwe with the City of Tshwane and several partners, is now bringing a much needed technological and social connectivity to the city in the interests of better service delivery and social cohesion.
The public Wi-Fi facility, which has been running for over a year, is also available at the city’s health facilities, customer and municipal centres, tourism and heritage venues, as well as sites on buses, taxis and trains. The city has now launched three new user services: Wi-Fi Voice, Drive-In and Chat.
The Wi-Fi Drive-In service will stream films and other programming to personal devices in public areas such as parks, events venues and other public gathering areas. Like traditional drive-ins, the service is aimed at bringing people together for a shared community experience.
The first Drive-In programme is currently available at the Fountains Valley public park during the venue’s popular weekend flea market. The service has a catalogue of 30 free movies to choose from, with 10 new titles added monthly. There will be an emphasis on locally produced content in several languages. The number of venues where the streaming service is available will also be expanded over the coming months, covering the whole Pretoria/Tshwane region.
Zahir Khan, Project Isizwe COO, says the idea behind it was to create a community and family experience, giving the people of the city an opportunity to gather in a secure, fun environment, “where citizens can break away from their usual routine and engage in a unique, ground-breaking experience.”
The Wi-Fi Voice service allows users connected to the Tshwane Free Wi-Fi network to make unlimited free calls to other users, as well as connect to the city’s utilities customer-care line.
Wi-Fi Chat, much like the Whatsapp and WeChat messaging apps, is a web- based platform for instant chat between users and a service delivery platform for city queries and information.
“The high cost of voice calls and messaging creates a barrier to stimulating economic growth and creating opportunity for our youth,” says Khan, “the City of Tshwane will effectively reduce the cost of doing business in and with the city through the Tshwane Wi-Fi Voice and Chat apps.”
With over 700 live Wi-Fi sites (and growing) across 95% of the city wards in the city, the Tshwane Free Public Wi-Fi service has over 720,000 unique users, making more than 22 million connections, enabling every citizen to be digitally included and part of the digital economy, regardless of personal circumstance. The mayor and Project Isizwe hope that the long-term benefits of increased GDP, productivity and efficiencies from service delivery ultimately make the citizens of Tshwane the best connected people in South Africa.
Source: Screen Africa