Newark, New Jersey, has joined New York and London to offer the Link smart city program, an initiative that will enable the city to offer free Wi-Fi and other amenities that will run over the Newark Fiber network.
The smart city program, which is known as LinkNWK (pronounced Link Newark), is a communications network of sidewalk kiosks that will provide residents and visitors with free gigabit Wi-Fi, mobile device charging, free phone calls to anywhere in the U.S., access to municipal services, maps and directions, and real-time local information on city streets at no cost to taxpayers or users.
Newark Fiber, the city’s public-private gigabit data network, has already been connected to several high-profile buildings throughout the city including 494 Broad, Hahne and Company, Clinton Street Lofts and One Washington Park among others.
On its site, Newark Fiber said it continues to light more buildings with fiber every month. The service provider has told interested parties to find a building on its interactive map and speak with building owners directly about available residential and commercial spaces if they want to get access to the gigabit-capable fiber services.
It’s clear that the presence of Newark Fiber is driving new business opportunities for the city. Amazon chose Newark as the host city of “Voice,” a three-day conference on artificial intelligence and natural language processing on NJIT’s campus, for example.
“With its growing tech community, renowned academic institutions, and key investments in municipal fiber, Newark is a perfect partner for the Link program,” said Ari Buchalter, CEO of Intersection, in a release. “As we’ve seen in New York City and London, providing free high-speed Wi-Fi, digital services, and engaging content on city streets enriches the experience of the city for residents, workers, and visitors.”
Under the current LinkNWK build-out plan, 45 kiosks will initially be installed throughout Newark, encompassing areas around Newark Penn Station, the Prudential Center, and along Broad St., Market St., Martin Luther King Blvd., and Irvine Turner Blvd. These kiosks will also be installed on neighborhood corridors like Clinton Ave., Ferry St., South Orange Ave. and Bloomfield Ave. Kiosks will be placed in every one of Newark’s five wards.
Because the program is supported through advertising on the Link displays, LinkNWK will be free to all residents and visitors. Besides covering the costs of building, installing, maintaining and upgrading LinkNWK, advertising is expected to generate revenue for NCEDC and the city to help fund other smart infrastructure programs. NJIT will also partner with Intersection to help explore innovative use cases for the Links.
Similar projects designed by Intersection have already been built in New York City and London. Intersection has already deployed over 1,600 kiosks in New York City, through the CityBridge joint venture with Qualcomm and Comark, and in London with partners Primesight and BT, with thousands more set to be deployed over the next few years. Intersection provides the software, content, and advertising, and oversees deployment, maintenance, and overall program management for Link in all cities, while the Kiosks are manufactured by Civiq Smartscapes.
Link continues to gain momentum. In less than two years, over 3.6 million people have registered to use Link’s free Wi-Fi, with tens of millions of Wi-Fi sessions, hundreds of thousands of free phone calls, and other kiosk services accessed each month.
This program comes at a time when cities overall are trying to find new ways to innovate and attract new businesses and residents that see broadband connectivity as a must-have amenity.