A project to equip a town centre with free Wi-Fi is on track to meet its target fund after setting out to be “crowdfunded” online, E-Government Bulletin has learned.
The “Make Mansfield Your HotSpot” project was developed by Mansfield Business Improvement District, a partnership between the council and local business community. It is being run through Spacehive ( http://spacehive.com ), an online platform to allow citizens and local organisations to jointly fund neighbourhood development building projects.
The plan is to use internet routers installed on lamp posts to offer free and unlimited Wi-Fi to everyone in the town centre, residents and visitors alike, in an attempt to boost the local economy.
The project has a crowdfunding target goal of £37, 715, which it aims to reach by May 2013, with around £6,000 raised so far. However, E-Government Bulletin has learned this figure is about to receive a huge boost from local business Cardinal Security, which has agreed to pledge £20,000. Funds only leave the account of anyone who pledges money once the overall funding target is reached.
Sarah Nelson, Mansfield BID manager, told E-Government Bulletin the project will benefit the town and its economy in various ways. “Primarily, we’re hoping it’s going to keep people in the town a lot longer, because they won’t need to rush home to check their social media or emails”, Nelson said. “It also means people can access information about Mansfield more quickly and without any cost. They can use the Mansfield town centre app, for example, to see offers and events that are happening, and get directions to different businesses”.
Small businesses such as market traders would also benefit from the project by being able to accept card transactions for the first time, and companies will be able to buy advertising space on the home page to greet users when they log in.
Mansfield District Council are backing the project, said Nelson, meaning planning permission for the required routers will not be a problem.
The Mansfield project is one of a number of proposals seeking funding through Spacehive, capitalising on media interest in other crowdfunding platforms such as Kickstarter, which is aimed at raising money for creative entrepreneurs.
Other projects seeking funding on Spacehive include a proposal to build a playground at a North London school; another to transform a phone box in Edinburgh into a mini art gallery; and a third to renovate a derelict East London dock.
NOTE: Article originally published in E-Government Bulletin issue 350.