Between 2006 and 2008 I worked as a researcher with the Community Wireless Infrastructure Research Project. The project, a collaboration between Toronto’s three large universities, documented and assessed various models, best practices and benefits of public ICT infrastructure. We looked particularly at municipal and community wireless networks — for which there was a lot of enthusiasm during that time among cities, large and small, across the United States and Canada.
One of my favorite projects was a usability study I conducted with Neil McIntyre and Dr. Catherine Middleton. We looked at the usability of outdoor wireless networks, a popular emerging model for on-the-go connectivity. The team took into account usability factors related to devices (laptops, internet tablets, phones, etc.), the environment (weather, availability of appropriate seating and power outlets, etc.), and wireless technology (speed, reliability, etc.). We developed usability recommendations for cities and communities considering building outdoor wireless networks, including how to determine whether and where outdoor access makes sense, and shared our findings in the Canadian Journal of Communication in 2008. Read the article here.