News 2 Staff/AP – A new tech project designed to show off Charleston's technology efforts to residents and visitors alike is taking off.
Officials of Google and the City of Charleston announced the details Friday at a news conference at the city's Waterfront Park.
Charleston's gathering places are becoming more tech savvy courtesy of new programs with Google, the City of Charleston and the Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation.
Google is sending its Street View Trekker team into Waterfront Park to capture 360-degree imagery that will be featured on Google Maps for the world to see. The tour in Waterfront Park is a follow-up to the Trekker's initial hike through the Grand Canyon (follow link for gallery).
Charleston and Google officials also announced an expansion of the free Wi-Fi access in city parks. Local folks and visitors will now be able to connect to the Internet in Waterfront Park along with Marion Square.
“We are very excited to expand our relationship with Google and Charleston Digital Corridor to offer residents and visitors several hotspots to connect to the Internet,” said Charleston Mayor Joseph Riley. “Having this Wi-Fi network makes life easier for people doing business here and helps our tourists find the attractions they want to visit. And in the case of the trekker, get a sneak peek of the places before you visit. It's all done at no cost to the taxpayer.”
A Google community grant to the Charleston Digital Corridor supports the Wi-Fi network, and the project uses no public funds. The Charleston Digital Corridor Foundation is responsible for maintaining the network.
“One of Google's main goals is to make it easier to find the things you need on the Internet,” said Eric Wages, Google operations manager at the Berkeley County data center. “We're best known for our search tools, but you need an Internet connection to do a search. The Wi-Fi connections in Waterfront Park and Marion Square will make it easier for everyone to find the next thing to do in historic Charleston.”
A group of students from the Charleston Charter School for Science and Math participated in demos to learn how to edit Google Maps by adding information about different historic and cultural places around Charleston. The students learned how to add links to websites, operating hours and contact information about the different businesses, museums or places on Charleston's map.
“The Charleston Digital Corridor's goal is to offer concrete resources to help technology companies thrive in Charleston and the surrounding communities. The hardware for Wi-Fi is possibly the most concrete resource we can offer tech companies in downtown,” said Ernest Andrade, Charleston Digital Corridor Executive Director. “Tech companies thrive on creativity and freedom. This Wi-Fi network gives employees the opportunity to work outside for a perspective outside their offices.”
The Wi-Fi network is now live and available to the public. For more information, please visit charlestonfreewifi.com/wp.