TAMPA — In an effort to become "a more business-friendly and user-friendly city," Mayor Bob Buckhorn on Tuesday announced the city has created seven Wi-Fi hot spots the public can use free in several city buildings.
The hot spots were placed in busy areas where they would be of most use to city customers, such as contractors pulling building permits or residents attending City Council meetings.
"When citizens come down to visit City Hall or file a permit, I want them to know that they can continue to do business," Buckhorn said.
The new hot spots are in the Tampa Municipal Office Building lobby, in the City Council's lobby and chambers, in the Police Department lobby, in the lobby and conference room of the Development Services Center and in the Solid Waste Department lobby.
The city spent about $9,500 on equipment and installation and estimates it will spend $5,000 a year on Internet and software maintenance charges.
Meanwhile, city officials are exploring creating several more free, public Wi-Fi hot spots in a handful of downtown parks such as Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, Lykes Gaslight Square Park and on the Riverwalk.
Last month, city officials and Bright House Networks said they had begun preliminary talks, but neither had estimates of potential costs or other details.
Bright House already has two Wi-Fi hot spots inside Curtis Hixon park. (Bright House customers can sign on as part of their service; non-customers pay a small fee.)
Buckhorn wants to extend Wi-Fi service to the Riverwalk and downtown parks as a way of drawing more people — especially the young, tech-savvy professionals he hopes to attract as city residents.
"Ideally, what you would like to see is people hanging out on Curtis Hixon lawn, with their laptop, being able to work while at the same time they enjoy the Riverwalk and the water," he said recently.