Wireless Chicago Along the 'L'

This was a year long project which revolved around access to wireless internet networks and the socioeconomic implications for those who have internet and those who don’t (the information rich and poor). The Chicago public transportation system, the elevated train or “L”, is the facilitator of access to the various parts of the urban landscape. Utilizing the framework of the “L” system, I mapped wireless internet network accessibility throughout the city of Chicago. I initially began with highlighting the division between the North Side and the South Side of Chicago in terms of availability of wireless networks, using the Red Line (the “L” line which runs between the two halves of the city). I eventually mapped wireless networks (noting whether they were locked/secured or open) throughout the entire “L” system. The resultant works I created were hand-held maps which were distributed to “L” riders and directional card maps which were placed in the train cars where the usual maps are located. The new maps were identical to the old ones except that they displayed how many wireless networks were available near which station and whether they were open or closed. This project had an impact on the average “L” rider in that it provided a practical guide to where one might pick up an unsecured wireless internet signal. The project also was able to highlight to the public how important internet (especially wireless internet) is to being part of the wealthier neighborhoods of the city.