January 13, 2021

Free Outdoor Public Wi-Fi Available Near 10 County Libraries and the Silver Spring Civic Building

Montgomery County has leveraged federal COVID-19 funding to install outdoor public Wi-Fi at 10 Public Library (MCPL) locations. The free service is available 24 hours a day at the MCPL branches at Aspen Hill, Davis (North Bethesda), Gaithersburg, Germantown, Maggie Nightingale (Poolesville), Marilyn Praisner (Burtonsville), Rockville Memorial, Twinbrook, Wheaton and White Oak branches. The program also will provide free Wi-Fi in front of the Silver Spring Civic Building at Veterans Plaza.

All MCPL buildings are currently closed due to the COVID-19 health crisis, but the free Wi-Fi service is available in parking lots adjacent to the library buildings. Additional coverage is provided in grass area behind the Davis branch; in the park from the library to the playground area at Wheaton; and in Rockville Town Square.

Wi-Fi coverage varies by location. Customers are advised to follow COVID-19 safety recommendations and are required to adhere to executive orders and health officer directives when using the services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has brought greater awareness of the impacts of the widening digital disparity, which often deprives community members of opportunities to participate in important daily-life activities such as remote learning, accessing workforce development and employment information or staying up-to-date on news and information,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “The work of MCPL and the Department of Technology Services (DTS) to secure funding to provide Wi-Fi availability for outside use at 11 County facilities is another step in working to ensure that all community members have equitable access to reliable connectivity.”

DTS worked to leverage Federal CARES Act COVID-19 grant funding to install the Wi-Fi access.

The 10 library branches were chosen by analyzing U.S. Census and MCPL data. Seven library branches were selected by mapping Census data neighborhoods with lower incomes and households without home internet. Three additional locations (Davis, Rockville and Wheaton Regional) were selected because, prior to the pandemic, they had greater participation in MCPL small business programs.

“Small business owners who relied on MCPL indoor Wi-Fi to run their businesses asked the County for help and we were glad to assist them,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer for Small Economic Development Jerome Fletcher. “Small businesses are critical to County’s economy recovery and more outdoor public Wi-Fi is another way the County is offering relief to small businesses.”

For more information about the outdoor Wi-Fi services contact MCPL Assistant Director James Donaldson at James.Donaldson@montgomerycountymd.gov or 240-777-0030.