Sheffield city centre should offer free Wi-Fi in public places and the city’s broadband speeds should be improved, a new business report has suggested.
The City Initiatives for Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship report suggested the move could help increase productivity and ensure people from poorer households have better internet access.
It said: “Sheffield’s city centre lacks free Wi-Fi in public places, on the street or in public buildings, including libraries.
“The city region also has one of the slowest broadband speeds in the CITIE Northern Powerhouse analysis. Greater access to free and faster Wi-Fi in the city centre and the city region would increase productivity and also help tackle issues around digital exclusion for lower income households.”
The report, which is published today, stated that Sheffield could follow the example of the city of Tallinn in Estonia, which has been offering free public Wi-Fi to residents and visitors since 2005.
It said free, unrestricted Wi-Fi is available in about 30 locations, including airports, rail stations and buses.
The report also noted that Sheffield Council is in the early stages of developing a Smart City Framework, which involves making the best use of available technology to help tackle social, economic and environmental problems.
It said: “The city has the will and leadership but lacks a degree of capacity and an over-arching strategy.
“Best practice from around the globe highlights the need for a well-resourced team and a highly-placed champion to turn transformative smart city ideas into reality.”