Pilot Project: Public WiFi
Residents and visitors to a segment of Saskatoon’s core neighbourhood area will soon enjoy free public WiFi access on their smartphones, tablets or laptops as part of a pilot project by the City of Saskatoon. The service is part of a pilot project by the City to address growing barriers and risks in our community, commonly referred to as the ‘digital divide’.
In December 2016, the Canadian government declared Internet access a basic right of all Canadian citizens. The COVID- crisis has focused attention on the systemic institutional barriers impacting vulnerable people in the community and the requirement for equitable access to Internet services. Existing Internet access options are often inaccessible due to the associated costs. The only means of accessing the Internet are through free WiFi hotspots that are often difficult to get to or use.
What you can expect from us
- The pilot project explores a cost-effective City-delivered solution for approximately 1,500 residents to access the Internet from or near their homes and in public areas at no cost. With access to the Internet, residents will be able to access key tools like Telehealth and learning applications as well as important information including housing, food, pandemic restrictions, and government services.
- The project, valued at $250,000, is a one-year pilot that is expected to launch early in 2023. At the end of 12 months of operation, an assessment of the pilot will be carried out to determine the future direction, which may involve continuing, expanding or discontinuing the service.
- Equipment installation is nearing completion.
- The testing phase has been initialized.
- Barring unforeseen issues, the network is expected to be launched in the first quarter of 2023.
- The area of the project has now been defined as follows: Between 19th Street West and 21st Street West. And between Witney Avenue South and Avenue U South.
- Equipment installation and technical preparations are well underway.
- Communications and a User Experience Survey for the end users are in development.
- The Administration issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) on February 8, 2022, for a vendor to supply products to deliver wireless Internet access points throughout the proposed area.
- The size of the area involved in the pilot project will be approximately three-square blocks, with details to be confirmed through the RFP process.
- The project will see the City deliver highspeed Internet via fibre to the Saskatoon Fire Development Centre, a City-owned building located at 116 Avenue W South to serve as the connection point (hub).
- As the primary hub, a wireless signal will then be broadcast to the pilot area through the solution identified through the vendor’s RFP submission.
Why is the City investing in free WiFi for Saskatoon residents and visitors?
No matter where they live, all residents need access to high-speed Internet for essential legal and medical services, to connect with family, keep up at school, run a business and keep up with day-to-day transactions. Issues resulting from a lack of access to the Internet are being discussed across Canada. The growing barriers and risks are commonly referred to as “the digital divide”. In December 2016, the Canadian government declared Internet access a basic right of all Canadian citizens.
More recently, the COVID crisis focused attention on the systemic institutional barriers impacting vulnerable people in the community and the requirement for equitable access to internet services. Existing Internet access options are often inaccessible due to the associated costs. Often the only means of accessing the Internet are through free WiFi hotspots that are often difficult to get to or use.
To address this issue, the City of Saskatoon developed a pilot project to provide fully subsidized public WiFi service to residents and visitors in a segment of Saskatoon’s core neighbourhood area. The pilot will help the City to gain an understanding of public WiFi benefits, public/private partnership opportunities and governance.
What's involved in the pilot project?
The project will look at a number of areas to be able to better plan for any future public internet services:
- The establishment of a WiFi network for a target location (pilot area) that allows connectivity to the Internet.
- The development of a clear understanding of the City’s role in the governance and maintenance of a free public WiFi network.
- An understanding of the partnership opportunities with other institutions and private businesses that can contribute to the design, maintenance and running of a free public WiFi network.
- The ability for citizens to access and utilize the services and information needed via free public WiFi.
- At the end of 12 months, an assessment of the pilot will be presented to determine future direction which may include the pilot’s continuation, expansion or discontinuation of the service.
Where will the target location (pilot area) be for this project?
The City has identified the following pilot site: Between 19th Street West and 21st Street West. And between Witney Avenue South and Avenue U South.T
This location shows very high equity need, high uptake of digital devices from the Saskatoon Public School Board information, is very near City-owned fibre optic cable, and may allow for coverage of both higher density housing and community spaces.
The project will see the City deliver high speed internet via fibre optic to the Saskatoon Fire Development Centre, a City-owned building located at 116 Avenue W South to serve as the connection point (hub) for the WiFi access points. The facility is City-owned, would have a lower cost to bring fibre to, and any investments in the fibre infrastructure would have ongoing benefits and use.
How was the target location (pilot area) determined?
To select the pilot area, data was collected from City sources as well as through consultations with external organizations.
A fundamental principle for the project is to support the equitable access to Internet services for disadvantaged population and neighborhoods. To support this principle, the evaluation relied on equity measures. Specifically, five indicators were used including the percentage of youth populations, senior populations, immigrant populations, Indigenous populations, and low-income populations.
Additionally, a heat map of the postal codes shows where Saskatoon Public Schools provided digital devices for students to use while all students were taking education online in the spring of 2020.
Finally, the proximity to existing City-owned infrastructure to minimize the cost of the project. The network is used as a primary resource for this determining the location.
The Dr. Freda Ahenakew Library holds one-on-one tech help sessions on Thursdays between 11:30 a.m. and 12:00 p.m. You can get help with learning how to use your device and accessing WiFi. They also offer supports with the following:
- Registering a new device
- Learning how to use a new device
- Internet searching
- Microsoft Word
- Social Media
- Accessing MySaskHealthRecord
- Much more
Confirm library sessions here or by calling 306-975-7508.
How will success be measured for the pilot project?
An assessment of the pilot will include: usage, quality of service, adoption, feedback from residents.
Are there other locations the City offers free public WiFi access?
Free public WiFi is available to all residents and visitors at a variety of City-owned facilities through a partnership with Shaw Communications. Find out where it's available.
YXEPublicWiFi Terms & Conditions
All users of the City of Saskatoon’s free public Wi-Fi Internet services (the "Services") must agree to and comply with this Acceptable Use Policy (“AUP”) as a condition of using the Services.
The City of Saskatoon (the “City”) does not exercise editorial control or review over the content of any website, electronic mail transmission, text message, Instagram, Snapchat, Tweet, Facebook post, Pinterest, or social media posting, blog posting, newsgroup, or other material created or accessible over or through the Services. However, the City may remove, block, filter, or by means such as deep packet inspection or by any other means restrict any materials that, in the City's sole discretion, may be illegal, may subject the City to liability, or by reputation may be deemed inappropriate for access or viewing within a public venue, or which may violate this AUP. The City may cooperate with legal authorities and/or third parties to investigate of any suspected or alleged crime or civil wrong. Violation of this AUP may result in the suspension or termination of access to the Services or other actions as detailed below.
The following constitute violations of this AUP (this list is intended to be illustrative and not exhaustive; other uses may violate the AUP and the City remains the sole and final arbiter of acceptable usage of its Services):
- Illegal use: Using the Services to transmit any material (by email, uploading, posting, or otherwise) that, intentionally or unintentionally, violates any applicable local, provincial, federal or international law or any rules or regulations promulgated thereunder.
- Harm to minors: Using the Services to harm, or attempt to harm, minors in any way.
- Threats: Using the Services to transmit any material (by email, uploading, posting, or otherwise) that threatens or encourages bodily harm or destruction of property.
- Harassment: Using the Services to transmit any material (by email, uploading, posting, or otherwise) that harasses, defames, or intimidates another.
- Obscene: Using the Services to transmit any material (by email, uploading, posting, or otherwise) that is obscene, profane, or that is abusive language or material or that contains pornographic material (that is, text, pictures, films, or video clips of a sexually explicit or arousing nature).
- Hate: Using the Service to transmit any material (by email, uploading, posting, or otherwise) that is hateful, offensive or contains derogatory images or messages regarding sex, race, religion, colour, origin, age, physical or mental disability, medical condition, or sexual orientation.
- Fraudulent activity: Using the Services to make fraudulent offers to sell or buy products, items, or services or to advance any type of financial scam such as "pyramid schemes," "Ponzi schemes," unregistered sales of securities, securities fraud and "chain letters."
- Forgery or impersonation: Adding, removing or modifying identifying network, message, or article header information in an effort to deceive or mislead is prohibited. Attempting to impersonate any person using forged headers or other identifying information is prohibited. The use of anonymous remailers or nicknames does not constitute impersonation.
- Unsolicited commercial email/Unsolicited bulk email: Using the Services to transmit any unsolicited commercial email or unsolicited bulk email. Activities that have the effect of facilitating unsolicited commercial email or unsolicited bulk email, whether or not that email is commercial in nature, are prohibited. Using deliberately misleading headers in e-mails sent to multiple parties is prohibited.
- Unauthorized access: Using the Services to access, or to attempt to access, the accounts of others, or to penetrate, or attempt to penetrate, security measures of the City's or another entity's computer software or hardware, electronic communications system, or telecommunications system, whether or not the intrusion results in disruption of service or the corruption or loss of data.
- Business Disruption: Using the Services in any manner that, in our reasonable opinion, may adversely affect the manner in which we carry out our business.
- Copyright or trademark infringement: Using the Services to transmit any material (by email, uploading, posting, or otherwise) that infringes any copyright, trademark, patent, trade secret, or other proprietary rights of any third party, including, but not limited to, the unauthorized copying of copyrighted material, the digitization and distribution of photographs from magazines, books, and films or unauthorized distribution of music or other copyrighted sources, and the unauthorized transmittal of copyrighted software.
- Collection of personal data: Using the Services to collect, or attempt to collect, personal information about third parties without their knowledge or consent.
- Reselling the services: Reselling the Services without the City's authorization.
- Network disruptions and unfriendly activity: Using the Services for any activity which adversely affects the ability of other people or systems to use the Services or the Internet. This includes excessive consumption of network or system resources whether intentional or unintentional. This also includes "denial of service" (DoS) attacks against another network host or individual user. Interference with or disruption of other network users, network services or network equipment is prohibited. It is the user's responsibility to ensure that their system is configured, operated, and used in a manner to avoid excessive consumption of network or system resources. It is the user's responsibility to ensure that their system is configured in a secure manner. A user may not, through action or inaction, allow others to use their system for illegal or inappropriate actions. A user may not permit their system, through action or inaction, to be configured in such a way that gives a third party the capability to use their system in an illegal or inappropriate manner.
- High Volume, Server Hosting, and non-traditional end user activities: The Services are intended for an end user's periodic active use of email, instant messaging, social media, browsing the World Wide Web, and other typical end user activities. High volume data transfers, especially sustained high volume data transfers such as bit torrent or video streaming services, are prohibited. Hosting a web server, or any other server is prohibited. Accordingly, the City maintains the right to terminate any user's connection following the detection of any high-volume data transfer, server hosting, or non-traditional end user activity as determined by the City.
The City may at any time take any one or more of the following actions, or other actions not listed, at the City's sole discretion in response to complaints or if the City determines that there has been a violation of this AUP:
- Issue warnings written or verbal
- Suspend the user’s access
- Terminate the user’s access
- Bill the user for administrative costs and/or reactivation charges
- Bring legal action to enjoin violations and/or to collect damages, if any, caused by violations.
The City reserves the right to revise, amend, or modify this AUP, and our other policies and agreements at any time and in any manner. Notice of any revision, amendment, or modification will be posted on saskatoon.ca and will be effective immediately after posting same.
There are potentially serious security issues with any smartphone, tablet, notebook, or general-purpose computer (“computer”) connected to the Internet without the appropriate protection. This can be true of connections made through a wireless network, a cable modem, dial-up access or otherwise. These security issues range from viruses, worms and other programs that can damage the user's computer due to attacks on the computer by unauthorized or unwanted third parties. These parties, known commonly as "hackers" may attempt to penetrate the user's computer and download information from the user's computer. If the user has unprotected files on the computer, these files may be visible to hackers on the Internet, potentially including parties with criminal intent. Hackers also exploit vulnerabilities in operating systems to cause malicious damage to a user's computer including the destruction or deletion of files or the re-formatting of drives. It is recommended that the user uses either a personal firewall or Virtual Private Network systems to protect his/her information. The City advises the user that he/she should consult a security expert to determine whether there are any potential security holes in their computer's configuration.
The City will not provide support for the setup, configurations and equipment maintenance of devices, including multifunction devices, that may contain a switch, router, firewall, etc. Third-party community organizations may provide citizens with support, education, and devices at their own discretion.
THE CITY SPECIFICALLY DISCLAIMS ANY LIABILITY FOR UNAUTHORIZED THIRD-PARTY SECURITY BREACHES OR THE RESULTS THEREOF. THE CITY PROVIDES ACCESS TO THE INTERNET ON AN "AS IS" BASIS WITH ALL RISKS INHERENT IN SUCH ACCESS. BY CONNECTING TO THE SERVICES, THE USER ACKNOWLEDGES THE RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH PUBLIC ACCESS TO THE INTERNET AND HEREBY RELEASES AND INDEMNIFIES THE CITY FROM ANY DAMAGES THAT MIGHT OCCUR.
For your information, we have set forth some common security problems. Please note that this list is not intended to be exclusive or exhaustive, and new security risks are being developed on a daily basis. Here are some common risks:
In certain configurations, every packet of information on the Internet can be "sniffed" by a third party. In the case of a wired network connection at the City facility, the packets are on a switched network. This prevents packet sniffing on the City network. However, in a wireless connection commonly known as Wi-Fi, packets can be "sniffed" by someone on the wireless network with the appropriate software. This allows the hacker to see every piece of information that the user sends across the network.
There are a few precautions that you can use to protect your information.
- Do not send any sensitive information including passwords, credit card or other sensitive information using a wireless connection.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs encrypt all of the information sent by the user, so the information is useless to a hacker.
- Ensure that the web browser session uses secure sockets. This is often identified with a web address that begins with "https".
Using 'spoofed' e-mails and fraudulent websites phishing attacks are designed to fool recipients into divulging personal financial data such as credit card numbers, account usernames and passwords, social security numbers, etc. By hijacking the trusted brands of well-known banks, online retailers and credit card companies, phishers are able to convince up to 5% of recipients to respond to them. To help protect yourself from phishing attacks always confirm that the web site is signed with a digital signature from a trusted authority that validates the authenticity of the site's host. If in doubt you should contact a company representative directly to validate the website's authenticity before trusting that site.
Note that security on the Internet is a rapidly changing landscape. New attacks are springing up all of the time. The City recommends that you consult with security experts to ensure that your computer is protected when you are on the Internet. Note that these security holes exist not only on public access networks provided by the City, but also on any Internet system such as a DSL or Cable Modem connection in your home or office. The suggestions given herein are provided as a courtesy, and do not replace specific personalized advice provided by security experts with whom you may be working.
WHILE THE CITY HAS ENDEAVOURED TO BE ACCURATE AND TO PROVIDE INFORMATION FROM SOURCES THE CITY BELIEVES TO BE ACCURATE, THE CITY DISCLAIMS ANY OBLIGATION TO UPDATE THIS AND WILL NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY DAMAGES YOU MAY INCUR, INCLUDING FOR SPECIAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES OR LOST PROFITS (WHETHER FORESEEABLE OR NOT) BY RELYING ON THE INFORMATION HEREIN.