Michigan has released a map of WiFi hotspots available in the state as a way to assist residents who may not have reliable internet access while they continue to work or learn at home during the pandemic.
The WiFi mapping — spearheaded by the Michigan Public Service Commission, Connected Nation Michigan, the Department of Technology, Management and Budget, and the Department of Education — highlights locations where public internet access is available, such as libraries, public schools and parks. More than 300 locations have already been added to the map, which also includes information about the location and the password used to access the internet there.
“This pandemic has shown a real need to tackle the barriers of access, adoption, and affordability to fully enable the opportunities that the internet makes possible,” Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said in a statement. “If we are going to close the internet gap, we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can in the interim to expand access to existing broadband options for communities where it’s not readily available or affordable.”
Michigan schools originally closed down on March 16, with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer announcing in early April that they would stay closed for the remainder of the year. Michigan saw its first stay-at-home order on March 23, which limited the businesses that could remain open and forcing many people to work from home.
More than 70 percent of Michigan’s students reported using internet devices at home to complete school, but more than 28 percent of students live in homes that do cannot access virtual learning, according to the Michigan Department of Education
“We know that more work must be done to ensure residents and students throughout the state have accessible and affordable broadband internet service,” said MPSC Commissioner Tremaine Phillips in a statement. “Making these Wi-Fi hotspot locations easily available is an important bridge to increasing the accessibility of these critical services during this difficult time.”
Residents using the hotspots are encouraged to follow social distancing guidelines.
Find the map here.
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Jordyn Pair is a reporter with The Michigan Star. Follow her on Twitter at @JordynPair. Email her at [email protected]