ONE way for Toledo to plug the "brain drain" and attract young professionals is to wire the city for wireless Internet, or "wi-fi," as soon as possible. Young people are accustomed to tapping into the Internet anywhere at any time; it's a phenomenon to be embraced, not resisted.
As city officials move toward bringing wi-fi to Toledo, not just young adults will benefit. So will safety personnel, businesses, and other citizens.
Officials are looking to grant a license to expand wireless service throughout the city, and when that happens, Toledo will finally be on the road to becoming a 21st century town.
Although several other Ohio cities - Akron, Cincinnati, Dublin, and Cleveland - are making plans or have plans to set up municipal wireless networks, Toledo claims its network will be the largest. Meanwhile, California has 31 wireless communities, and Michigan boasts 13, including Oakland and Washtenaw counties, Traverse City, Marquette, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor.
Much like their parents hauled books, today's college students carry laptops everywhere, and the devices are practically an extension of their person. They'd prefer not to have to search out locations that offer free wireless service, such as Burger King and Panera Bread, among others. It will be convenient to have wireless Internet accessibility in all 88 square miles of the city.
Although it could be months before the whole city is wired, it's exciting to know that wireless communication is coming. The anticipated monthly service fee will be $10 for low-income residents and $20 for others.
But this won't be merely for personal use. Governments and businesses may be big users, and the system may help save lives. Police and fire personnel will be able to access the network even while traveling at great speeds to an emergency.
And just as it's free for citizens to use the parks, libraries, and other public facilities, people will be able to access the wireless network at those public sites, too.
Oddly enough, the United States lags behind other nations that have broadband policies in place already.
By moving in this direction, city officials are showing that they mean business about getting our town in on the cutting edge of technology that 21st century adults expect.