By Justin Brosnan. Edited for online by Rachel Riga.

The Brisbane City Council has begun the next phase of its Digital Brisbane Strategy aiming to ensure the appropriate digital infrastructure is in place for the G20 summit in November.

The initiative of the Digital Brisbane Strategy involves the establishing of free wireless connection to the internet in Brisbane’s three busiest hubs of Queen St Mall, South Bank and Victoria Bridge.

Walter Taylor Ward Councillor Julian Simmonds says the strategy aims to ensure Brisbane as a city and its businesses are digital ready.

“We know the digital economy is worth $20 trillion across the globe and we want to make sure Brisbane is a part of that,” he said.

Mr Simmonds says the free Wi-Fi was launched last week and has different functions depending on which hub you are connected to.

“It offers a couple of different functions so in the Queen Street Mall you can log on for up to 30 minutes,” he said.

“That’s an opportunity for you to check your emails or check the movie times or whatever you need to do.

“In South Bank it provides you the opportunity to stay logged on for up to five hours.”

South Bank in Brisbane where people can access free Wi-Fi for over three hours. Photo by Gordon Wrigley.
South Bank in Brisbane where people can access free Wi-Fi for over three hours. Source: Flickr – Gordon Wrigley.

He says the council is also currently working to provide an online map that shows all the businesses across Brisbane who provide free Wi-Fi.

“We’re trying to collate together all the different businesses that have free Wi-Fi in our city,” he said.

“There are some 250 local businesses that have their own free Wi-Fi network and we offer on our website a map of locations you can go and get free Wi-Fi.”

Brisbane Development Association executive director Mark Doonar says his organisation wholeheartedly supports the implementation of the free Wi-Fi areas in Brisbane.

“Anything that makes it easier for people to connect to businesses, services and things like that is always a really good thingm” he said.

“If you can get access to digital information and way finding information really easily, it’s really going to enhance your experience in the city.”

Mr Doonar says the digital strategies being put into place in preparation for the G20 are essential as the G20 represents the chance to showcase Brisbane to the world.

“Getting this in place for the G20 is going to be a really important thing to do because it’s pretty enormous,” he said.

“It’s a great opportunity the fact that there is going to be so many people from around the world receiving messages via all sorts of media about Brisbane.”

Sales boost

Some local businesses located within the designated free Wi-Fi hubs have also noticed a considerable improvement in sales attributed to the free internet connection.

Shingle Inn cafe senior staff member Kaitlyn Sapier says the Wi-Fi implementation has seen a rise in sales with people spending more time at the cafe to use the internet.

“Now that we have the Wi-Fi, a lot more customers are staying in and ordering more coffees and doing their work,” she said.

“A lot of university students as well come in and do their work with the free Wi-Fi, so it’s really helped the business a lot.”