The launch of Orange County’s “WiFi on Wheels” program—which will bring free internet connectivity to Southern California neighborhoods in need—kicked off on Oct. 20 at the Westminster Public Library.
Each week, WiFi on Wheels trailers will be parked at designated locations during specified hours, providing internet access for up to 150 users within a 300-yard radius along with the opportunity for library cardholders to check out wireless hotspots.
Supervisor Andrew Do introduced the start of the program at a small celebration held in front of the library.
“What you see here is the kickoff to bringing internet to our community, and this is an exciting initiative for us,” Do told the crowd.
“I have long advocated to find internet access for low-income families, and a lot of families are feeling a financial crisis right now.”
Do said he first met with Orange County departments in the spring to address the increasing need for internet access in disadvantaged areas throughout the county. He then proposed to use the county’s libraries and their bookmobiles to help the community overcome the digital divide.
The Orange County Community Resources Department in turn developed the WiFi on Wheels program.
“We are starting here in Westminster and expanding to the rest of the community,” Orange County librarian Julie Quillman said, adding that the program will also provide basic computer instruction as part of its outreach.
The mobile system consists of a small trailer that contains a portable antenna and generator. The entire unit is compact enough to be towed by a midsize SUV.
Staff will be available at each location to answer questions and provide information about the program. Children’s books and job search guides will be available in English, Spanish, and Vietnamese.
Director of Orange County Community Resources Dylan Wright called the program “a critical effort to bridge the digital divide” and thanked Supervisor Do for his “leadership in making this happen.”
The next stop for the WiFi on Wheels program will be DeMille Elementary School in Midway City on Oct. 27. The program will be available from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, then again from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Other upcoming scheduled stops include:
- Fryberger Elementary, 6952 Hood Drive, Westminster, Oct. 28, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
- Schmitt Elementary, 7200 Trask Ave., Westminster, Oct. 29, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
- Willmore Elementary, 7122 Maple St., Westminster, Oct. 30, 9 a.m.–12 p.m. and 1 p.m.–4 p.m.
- Sid Goldstein Freedom Park, 14180 All American Way, Westminster, Oct. 31, 9 a.m.–12 p.m.
The program plans to expand to neighborhoods in Stanton, La Habra, La Palma, and San Juan Capistrano in the coming months.
Orange County Public Libraries announced the program in an Oct. 9 press release, stating that the COVID-19 pandemic had driven many essential and social activities online, and noting that concerns over limited internet access were especially prevalent among parents with lower incomes.
More information about the WiFi on Wheels program and updates on Orange County Public Libraries services can be found at OCPL.org