Hurricane Sandy

Sandy’s Aftermath Turns Wifi Into Water in a Digital Desert

Wifi, wifi everywhere and not a signal to link.

The waters from Hurricane Sandy have rendered some telecommunications networks about as useful as the rudder on the Titanic. As city-dwellers have begun to seek an internet connection, finding a wifi hotspot has sometimes become almost as important as securing non-perishables and batteries for flashlights.

AllThingsD has collected a good deal of information on where to find wifi in areas where even strong cellphone signals may be in short supply:

In New York City, free Wi-Fi is usually available in city parks in partnership with AT&T, but since the parks are closed, and just getting close to one isn’t exactly a good idea right now what with the falling trees and all, that’s not much of an option.

There is a network of free and documented open Wi-Fi hotspots all over the city at NYCwireless.net, but the map appears not to be working. Instead I found a link to a PDF document that claims to be updated as of today, showing known hotspots around the city. Know this: Your mileage may vary.

Relevant to civic wireless needs, AllThingsD points out that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has just announced the Open Wireless Movement.

The website for the Open Wireless Movement is openwireless.org. The Open Wireless Movement wants to see a world where we can find the following in “any urban environment”:

  • Dozens of open networks are available at your fingertips.
  • Tablets, watches, and other new devices can automatically join these networks to do nifty things.
  • The societal expectation is one of sharing, and, as a result, wireless Internet is more efficient.
  • The false notion that an IP address could be used as a sole identifier is finally a thing of the past, creating a privacy-enhancing norm of shared networks.

AllThingsD also noted that Boingo Wireless has a “Free AOL Wifi” deal in conjunction with–obviously–AOL, which will last all day Wednesday.

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