Wednesday, April 30, 2003

NYCwireless April Meeting

No speaker tonight. Ben Serbin opens up with an informal show of hands survey:
  • About 40% of the folks in the room are new to NYCwireless.
  • 95% of folks have 802.11(a|b|g) gear.
  • 1% have a node registered in nodedb
Vonage phone in the house! I wonder when Vonage will be supporting the Cisco wi-fi phone? Jakob Farkas stepped up and spoke about the Community Outreach Effort. (pka Business Outreach Program) Outreach is encouraged. Get a cafe or other public space involved to increase the availability of public, free, wi-fi. Some anecdotal outreach experiences indicate that crowded cafes are probably less likely to be interested, but empty establishments are always looking to increase business. Some places are worried about the "hang out" factor where a bunch of geeks show up use wi-fi and don't buy anything. Possible solutions were suggested like limiting access time, etc. The meeting descended into a bit of legal morass after someone brought up the NH courts deciding that "wardriving is not a crime". Various folks interjected with other bits of liability law with respect to running an open access point. The discussion was cut short due to lack of real lawyers in the room and besides we were just here for the technology. Another person, sorry I missed his name stepped up to talk about new directions the organization will be headed. NYCwireless started as a guerrilla/user group, that then started to do outreach to spread free wi-fi. The Bryant Park project was their big success, in conjunction with the Bryant Park Restoration Corp. It looks like the BPRC is unhappy with the level of service. NYCwireless runs it for free so there seems to be some tension as to the spirit of the agreement. The BPRC looks at it like a commercial contract where the volunteers at NYCwireless wanted it to be more of a "friends of the park" kind of thing. Sadly it looks like the contract is going to laps and the stewardship of the wi-fi network will pass to someone else. On the bright side the experiment has exceeded everyone's expectations. Usage is up, press was good, and it is a showcase for free public access wi-fi. Now a NYCwireless is full non-profit corp. There are 5 board members (not sure who they are right now). The non-profit is not transparent enough for the current board members. They want to open up board membership. They want to add 3 new members (one of the original 5 may resign). The board will run NYCwireless and run projects so they'll technically be a managing board. They want to transform NYCwireless into a membership organization. They want to use membership, and dues, to support some basic efforts, buy materials, teach classes, etc. Members will be able to vote in board elections. Meetings will always be open to the general public.They do not want to morph NYCwireless into a permanent WISP. They have formed a for profit company Emenity to act as a regional WISP and consulting organization. Spring fundraiser is Saturday June 16th. No location set yet so mark the date.

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