Simon Stewart and his team of contributors have made it possible for South African’s to locate free Wi-Fi through an easy-to-use website and mobile applications on a range of platforms.
The Find Free Wi-Fi project was started over a year ago as simple websites.
Since then the project has developed into a mobile site together with iOS, Apple and Windows phone applications.
“The only platform we haven’t entered yet is BlackBerry, but there’s no reason why someone with a Blackberry can’t go to the mobi-site and see all the listings per city and add a spot,” Stewart told HumanIPO.
Stewart believes there is not enough Wi-Fi coverage in the country. He said: “I don’t think there will ever be enough but the intention with the site is to document the ones that we know of and hopefully to use that as a way to encourage more businesses to enable Wi-Fi in their shops.”
According to Stewart, the biggest problems facing South African Internet users are the cost and quality of bandwidth and the fact Wi-Fi covering an entire city will not happen anytime in the near future.
Stewart said Find Free Wi-Fi has experienced an increase of Twitter followers and that the project began on a good note. At the time of writing, @FindFreeWiFi has 769 followers.
The Find Free WiFi website features a Google Maps powered map with all the free hotspots indicated by purple icons. Simply clicking one of the icons will produce a small speech-bubble pop-up containing information on what the spot’s physical address is, the type of business it is and in most instances includes a website for the business and their opening times.
Find Free Wi-Fi has 379 points in 27 cities and towns throughout South Africa. Anyone may add a Wi-Fi spot if it isn’t featured by simply clicking on the “add Wi-Fi spot” tab and providing the relevant information in the six text boxes provided.
The Free Wi-Fi site currently has 154 spots listed for Johannesburg, 129 for Cape Town and 20 for Durban. The site also features Wi-Fi spots for smaller towns such as Volksrust, Mossel Bay and Cradock.
Stewart said currently, approximately a quarter of the listings have been provided by the public and the numbers are “rapidly increasing”. Initially “a lot of the spots came from me popping my head into restaurants, bars and coffee shops to see if they have Wi-Fi,” said Stewart.
Stewart has also developed a site called Find a Bookshop, which operates on the same principal as Find Free Wi-Fi, and he hosts a technical conference called JSinSA, which is aimed at local web developers. He also owns his own IT company, Broken Keyboard Software.
“Find A Book Shop and Find Free Wi-Fi are the ones that seem to get the most attention, which is great,” added Stewart.
For the future of Find Free Wi-Fi, Stewart said there is much development planned for the site. Find Free Wi-Fi might feature a paid premium option, “but we make sure that the bulk of the site is free. To charge people to show them where to find free Wi-Fi defeats the whole purpose,” added Stewart.