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Wireless Internet Access To Expand In Balboa Park

Soon, you'll be able to use your smartphones, tablet computers and laptops with greater ease at Balboa Park's central mesa.

Free wireless Internet access for the public will be expanded soon on the central mesa of Balboa Park, Councilman Todd Gloria announced today.

Photo by Tarryn Mento

City Council President Todd Gloria and Jason Quinn (far left) of the Balboa Park Online Collaborative pose with a $15,000 check for expanded wireless Internet services in Balboa Park, Aug. 15, 2013.

City Council President Todd Gloria announced Thursday morning the expansion of wireless internet access from the park's Spreckels Organ Pavilion to San Diego Museum of Art. The area includes the Plaza de Panama, where parking spots were recently removed and replaced with tables and chairs.

Gloria said expanding internet access is an investment into the city's future.

"Balboa Park — We're gonna celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Panama-California Exposition in 2015," he said. "We as a generation of San Diegans have a responsibility to make sure the park is gonna be magnificent for another 100 years."

The Wi-Fi will not only enable visitors to surf the web but will also open doors for Balboa Park facilities to interact with users, such as webcasting organ concerts or developing location-specific applications. Michael Wall, vice president of public programs at San Diego's Natural History Museum, was particularly excited about the latter.

The history museum received a grant from the Institute of Library and Museum Services to expand its influence. Wall said that could be an application to help visitors identify specific species of birds they may spot in the park or a digital map to show from where around the county the museum's artifacts came.

Wall waited around until after Gloria's announcement so he could personally thank the council member, who's office contributed $15,000 toward the effort.

The Balboa Park Conservancy chipped in $5,000, and the Balboa Park Online Collaborative, which converts exhibits at park cultural institutions into a digital form and places them on the Internet, provided the technical expertise.

According to the collaborative's Jason Quinn, the expanded service can accommodate quite a few users.

"Our maximum use case is when we have 'December Nights,' when we have tens of thousands of people walking through this concourse at once," Quinn said. "So our intent is to be able to handle that kind of coverage."

Users can begin logging on as soon as August 23, Gloria's office said.

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