Realtor Brian Leong and M8TRIX5 Technologies founder Dan Nou launched three free Wi-Fi hotspots in Cloverdale’s downtown business core on Tuesday afternoon (Nov. 28).
The Wi-Fi is a new pilot project that Leong and Nou are calling “Bri-Fi.”
Bri-Fi will cover select areas of the business core along 176 and 176A Streets. Bri-Fi will be an addition to the existing free public networks provided by Shaw Go Wi-Fi, Telus Wi-Fi, and various restaurants, businesses and coffee shops along those streets.
Several locations in the area are also covered by the free public Wi-Fi provided by the City of Surrey. Since 2015, City-owned public spaces, including the Surrey Archives, the Cloverdale Library, District 4 Surrey RCMP office, and several buildings on site at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds, all located on or around 176 Street and 176A Street, have had free Wi-Fi.
The idea, according to Nou and Leong, is to increase the connection between shoppers and the businesses along the street. They plan to make the Wi-Fi landing pages (the sign-in pages you must click through in order to access the Wi-Fi) hyper-local advertising spaces.
So, for instance, if you’re a shopper walking down 176 Street and you used your smartphone to access Bri-Fi, you would see advertisements for deals in local shops.
The Bri-Fi is just a pilot project now, but eventually Nou and Leong would like to bring it to other areas of Surrey.
Geoff Samson, Manager of Strategic Projects for the City of Surrey, said that the new Wi-Fi would offer a great “complementary service” to the other free Wi-Fi currently available in the area.
“This pilot will help us determine if it would be a good fit for other communities [in Surrey],” he said.
It may not be a program that could work in many other areas of the city, said Samson, as the close community and business core in the downtown Cloverdale area were what could make it work.
He said the City of Surrey may consider working with Leong and Nou in the future, but they would need to see feedback from the pilot project before taking any further steps.
Leong, who sponsored the lines, hardware and maintenance of the Wi-Fi hotspots, said that he wanted to “give the public free Wi-Fi” that wasn’t in competition with existing wireless internet providers, but rather “in conjunction with them.”
Councillor Dave Woods, who attended the informal Bri-Fi launch, said, “I think it’s a heck of a thing for local businesses [in Cloverdale].”
Nou said that he was excited to be a part of the project, as he “wanted to connect communities with their businesses.”
“Local businesses need as much help as they can get,” he said, noting that many of the businesses along 176 and 176A Streets are small, family owned businesses.