Rosedale Ridge: Our First Free Wi-Fi Project

JANUARY 4, 2013

Tags: Digital InclusionRosedale Ridge

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Rosedale Ridge

Wendy Wilson, director of the Rosedale Development Association, told us if there was anywhere in the Kansas City area where we could demonstrate that connectivity equals opportunity, it is Rosedale Ridge.

Home to over 400 low income people, half of whom are children under 12, this isolated seven-building Section 8 complex is in the Rosedale neighborhood of Kansas City, Kansas.

The families there are headed mostly by single mothers with an average income of $10,000 a year. Besides trying to make a life with few resources, they face all the challenges of raising children in a sometimes violent and crime-ridden inner city environment.

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Christmas came early to the Rosedale Ridge Section 8 housing project when we launched our free Wi-Fi network on December 14, 2012

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Many of the refurbished PCs for the Rosedale Ridge project came to us through a used computer drive in November sponsored by the Social Media Club of Kansas City.

Alisha Templeton, Advocacy Chair for SMCKC, brought some equipment of her own. Rick Deane is Vice President and co-founder of Connecting for Good. An IT professional, he has installed over sixteen community Wi-Fi networks in the Kansas City area. By installing wireless transmitters and antennas on-site, he took the signal broadcast from the downtown datacenter and spread it to everyone who lives at Rosedale Ridge!

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Our beautiful new wireless transmitter and dish. In order to bring free in home Internet to all 168 units at  Rosedale Ridge, Connecting for Good cut out the middleman and became our own Internet Service Provider. We are buying bandwidth wholesale and sending up to 100 Mb 3.8 miles from the top of Oak Tower in downtown Kansas City, MO. Board member, Isaac Wilder, lent his technical expertise to  help us create this connection for the newwork. Isaac is director of the Free Network Foundation whose mission is to expand community-based network initiatives.

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The dish on the top of the North building receives the 100 Mb Wi-Fi signal we broadcast from downtown Kansas City, MO, nearly four miles away.

The gray box with the white antenna on the bottom left is one of the high power radio transmitters we’ve placed around the complex. We’ve created a giant Wi-Fi hotpsot so all residents can connect to the Internet in their own apartments for free.
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The wireless equipment we used to spread the signal around the complex came to us as a donation from One Economy Corporation.

kidsThe staff of Rosedale Ridge hosted a time to meet with residents on the day we launched their free Wi-Fi network. 20 signed up for our digital life skills courses and the $50 computers that come with it.

Michael Liimatta (left) is president and co-founder of Connecting for Good. Dan Harmon is a board member who is coordinating our digital literacy efforts.

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The first of many sessions of our digital life skills classes started on December 21.  On the day of we announced that the Wi-Fi network was available, twenty residents signed up for the training and the $50 refurbished PCs that come with it. Everyone was excited to get started!

ambassadorOn December 22, 2012, after two days of training, Dan presents a free refurbished laptop to one of our five Ambassadors at Rosedale Ridge. They will use them to demonstrate to other residents what can be done online and encourage many more to attend the digital life skills sessions.

Media Coverage of our Efforts at Rosedale Ridge:

Kansas City Nonprofit Launches Free Wi-Fi for Low Income Housing
– Alyson Raletz, Kansas City Business Journal 12/14/2012

Free Wi-Fi Service Begins Today at Rosedale Ridge Public Housing in KCK, Ben Pelosaari, Pitch Weekly 12/14/2012

Nonprofit Throws Digital Lifeline to KCK Apartment Complex, Mary Sanchez, Kansas City Star 12/16/2012

Closing the Digital Divide in KC, One Neighborhood at a Time, Gigabit Nation Radio Broadcast with Craig Settles 12/17/2012

Group Works to Purge Kansas City’s Digital Divide, TV 41 Action News 1/15/13

 

Written by Tom Esselman

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