First plots of our wardriving exploits in Aspley, Nottingham, from the PAWS project.
This maps shows the density of WiFi access points in one of the urban areas in the UK with low penetration of fixed line broadband access. Our work within PAWS is looking at how all citizens can be enabled to access key public services via the internet using the unused capacity within these vast number of visible WiFi points. It is worth flagging this in not the same as free internet service...
Many access points are already enabled with BT FON service, but only available to BT subscribers - our mission to bring this sort of widespread service to all to provide easy access to, amongst others, eGovernment services.
This is in part technological - how we can ensure those getting free access do not impact the subscribers and in reality how good is the coverage; however, the key challenges are in the economics and attitudes towards such a service. It is widely viewed that online access to public services can reduce the cost of delivery and increase economic activity, so from the sociological perspective will citizens view this as a public good and consider that enabling the community should be up there alongside public libraries.
For the technologically minded - the data was captured using Wigle and the plot includes 1064 separate access points, the data having been scrubbed of duplicate MAC addresses, only including those base-stations broadcasting their SSIDs and the judicious use of Occam's razor for some spurious readings. Some folks seem to enjoy providing details of their set up in their SSIDs, so we've truncated the names to four letters which at least indicates who the service provider is for home routers with default configurations.