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Free wifi is coming to LA’s parks, but is that a good thing?

Griffith Park is one of six parks that will offer free wifi.
Griffith Park is one of six parks that will offer free wifi.
Grant Slater/KPCC

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Six public parks in the Los Angeles area are about to get a bit more connected — Echo Park Lake, the Griffith Observatory, Cabrillo Beach, Venice Beach, Pershing Square and Reseda Park will have free wifi.

The program debuts today, supported by a donation from Toyota. Visitors to the parks will have access to the internet and to a service request program for the L.A. Department of Recreation and Parks. Proponents of the pilot program and the city’s plans to create an even more expansive free wifi system say putting free internet in public spaces increases access, lowering the “digital divide.”

Critics cite security as a concern, while some park-goers are most worried about the impact that the program will have on outdoor culture in the parks. Is installing free internet in L.A.’s public spaces a good idea? What are some of the benefits and potential drawbacks to these programs? What should users be aware of?


Cecilia Kang, technology reporter for the Washington Post.

Patrick Lucey, Policy Program Associate, Open Technology Institute at the New America Foundation - a nonpartisan, think tank.