When the COVID-19 pandemic made visible digital inequity in Philadelphia, academics, technologists, and community organizers formed Philly Community Wireless (PCW) to increase access to free, reliable wifi in the neighborhoods of Fairhill and Kensington.
Earlier this month, the Big Picture Alliance released a short documentary on PCW’s work installing community-owned and -operated mesh networks in places like Norris Square Park and the Kensington Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia.
Mesh networks make it possible for equipment installed in one home to provide internet to neighboring homes and to passersby. What’s more, because the connection relies on a network of routers rather than one centralized hub, users can continue to access the internet even when one router goes offline.
Among the community members involved in the project is CDH Digital Humanities Strategist Grant Wythoff, who serves on PCW’s steering committee.
Watch the documentary to learn more about the Philadelphians working with their neighbors to bring free internet to their communities!
Philly Community Wireless has received funding from a Rapid Response Grant from the Princeton Humanities Council and from Princeton RISE at the John H. Pace Jr. ’39 Center for Civic Engagement. Head to the PCW website to learn more about the people, community organizations, and partners who have made the initiative possible.