- 19 May 2015
- CITY AS CONNECTOR
With public expectations changing and inner-city populations increasing, Helsinki is tackling the challenge head on with its ‘mobility on demand’...
How does the city facilitate physical and digital connectivity?
Working practices are changing: more and more business activity takes place in the digital realm and work is increasingly happening out of the office and on the move, in coffee shops and metros, or at meet-ups and events.
Entrepreneurs tend to be early adopters of these new approaches. It is particularly important to them that they can get around a city easily, and that they have high-quality internet access while they do so. The boundaries between digital and physical connectivity are increasingly blurred.
High-performing cities are finding ways to ensure that both types of connectivity are both comprehensive and frictionless.
Cities don’t need to explicitly focus on innovation and entrepreneurship in order to prioritise these policy areas, as improving connectivity plays into a wide range of policy issues. Nevertheless, they are important components of an environment that is conducive to the circulation of new ideas and the growth of young businesses.
Support access to high-speed internet
Provide free, public Wi-Fi
Ensure the high quality and extent of cycling infrastructure
Ensure frictionless and integrated public transport
Paris has taken a dual approach to connectivity: building up its physical cycling infrastructure and public cycle hire scheme into one of the largest in the world, and promoting free, fast Wi-Fi at more than 260 public places across the city.
In 2015, Melbourne introduced the Free Tram Zone in the city centre to get people out of cars and on to the trams. Coupled with free Wi-Fi in the city centre, citizens are able to connect physically and digitally across the city for free.
Tallinn has been offering free public Wi-Fi to its visitors and citizens since 2005, not as a goal in itself but because it is seen as a tool that directly benefits the city. Estonia was one of the first countries to establish access to the internet as a human right. It has also been offering free public transport since 2013, the first capital in Europe to do so.