The Downtown Alliance has finished rolling out the newest phase of its ongoing effort to blanket Lower Manhattan in free wireless connectivity. The Alliance announced on Monday that it had added more than 800,000 additional square feet, completed a half-mile plus corridor along Broadway (between Barclay Street and the Battery) and unified its previously separate networks under a single name: #DwtwnAllianceFreeWiFi
This comes on the heels of an earlier expansion of the network last autumn, which added more than one million square feet of connectivity, and brings the total area of public space covered by the Alliance’s free Wi-Fi service to more than 4.5 million square feet (For more information about coverage, please browse: www.downtownny.com/programs/free-public-wifi)
Use of the Alliance’s free wireless connectivity has grown with the physical scope of the service, since it was first introduced in a handful of areas Downtown 12 years ago. (On the day the program was launched, it became the City’s most extensive free, public Wi-Fi initiative.) By 2010, 100,000 devices were connecting to the network each year. This tally grew to 235,000 devices in 2012 and 554,954 by the end of 2015 — a 47 percent increase year-over-year. Through May of this year, usage of the network has grown 25 percent over the same time period in 2015, and the new Broadway Corridor already accounts for approximately 40 percent of all connections on the network.
“Today, our coverage has grown immensely and the program continues to illustrate what is possible in New York City and for other cities around the world,” said Alliance president Jessica Lappin. “We feel that open access to the internet, and the information it unlocks, is paramount and we’re proud to be on the cutting edge to provide it across our neighborhood.”
Among the project’s supporters is Trinity Church. Betsy Vorce, Trinity’s chief communications officer, said, “for over 300 years, Trinity Church and our ministries have been committed to working with the Lower Manhattan community through a number of different channels including, in recent years, digital. In helping bring free Wi-Fi access to those who live and visit this area, we are pleased to continue our longstanding partnership with the Downtown Alliance.”
The Broadway Corridor expansion was also supported by made possible in large part thanks to a partnership with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, a law firm whose New York office is located in the World Trade Center. (It was also the first law firm to move from midtown to Lower Manhattan following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.)
The mission of the Downtown Alliance is to enhance Lower Manhattan for businesses, residents and visitors. (Along with providing security, the Alliance also provides trash pickup and operates the business improvement district, or BID, that covers the area south of Chambers Street.) Among the services provided by the Alliance that Lower Manhattan residents especially prize is the Downtown Connection shuttle, which ferries passengers (free of charge) between 37 local stops that link residential areas neighborhoods with business and shopping districts. Running from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm, seven days a week, the Downtown Connection was launched by the Alliance in 2003 and expanded in 2009. Funded in part by the Battery Park City Authority, the Connection shuttle is currently utilized by more than 800,000 people each year.