New mobile app makes it easier to locate WiFi Buses and access free high-speed internet in Sacramento

May 29, 2020 RT News

The California State Transportation Agency, the City of Sacramento and the Sacramento Regional Transit District (SacRT) are making it easier to find wireless hotspot locations in communities with limited high-speed internet access during the COVID-19 pandemic. The multi-agency collaboration today announced a new mobile application for students and anyone in need of internet access to track the location of WiFi Buses, which provide high-speed internet to “digital deserts” in Sacramento.

As a community volunteer project, Sacramento-based Symsoft Solutions developed the mobile app, which is available for both Androids and iOS.

“As part of the Mayor’s Innovation Council, SymSoft Solutions stands ready to help Sacramento residents,” said Bhavik Patel, CEO SymSoft Solutions. “In this time of need, we developed this product to support the ‘proof of concept’ and make it easier than ever to find free WiFi for those that need it most. We’re excited to be a part of this innovative solution to closing the digital divide for our communities.”

The free WiFi Bus Sacramento app gives real-time updates on the location and availability of WiFi Buses. WiFi Bus Sacramento also has an offline mode that allows users to save map data for future sessions in between connectivity. The app also provides tools for the City team to plan positioning of the WiFi Buses.

“COVID-19 has put a spotlight on a critical need in our community,” said the City’s Chief Innovation Officer Louis Stewart. “We have worked with our partners to scale up this proof of concept aimed at helping students, workers and residents who need broadband access. I am grateful to see it go to the next level in user experience with a complimentary app that helps residents find what they need faster.”

The 60-day proof of concept for WiFi Buses launched in early May to promote opportunities for distance learning, telework and telehealth. Each of the 10 buses park in digital desert communities across Sacramento to provide 3½ hours of wireless broadband service at two locations each day, with updated schedules available at thewifibus.com.

The repurposed WiFi Buses are outfitted with combinations of equipment provided free of charge by proof of concept partners AT&T, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile, Cradlepoint, Sierra Wireless and Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company, to offer high-speed connectivity with a range of up to 1,800 feet.

Governor Gavin Newsom announced the project on April 20 as part of the state’s efforts to support distance learning and close the digital divide during the COVID-19 pandemic. Approximately one in five students in California lack high-speed internet access and nearly half of all low-income households in the state do not have broadband service at home.

To download the free app, visit the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store and search “WiFi Bus Sacramento.”

More information on the WiFi Bus can be found at www.TheWiFiBus.com

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