Thanks to Danna MacKenzie, former Office of Broadband Director, I became aware of a great opportunity from a national non-profit organization – the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC.org) . The initiative is called Project Connect. You can see details under the COVID 19 tab on their web site, including the application form. They have a great FAQ on their web site with all of the details. This organization comes highly recommended.
The have the resources to install an external wi-fi access point on a public or private building, all for free. They also help the host ensure that everything is secure. They also provide some ongoing, but limited support on the access point management.
The local host must provide the Internet access, either through their existing access or with a new separate Internet service. Most hosts are public entities like cities or libraries, but it could be a local grocery store. Having a place to park or sit is important. The access point can be located inside, such as in a community room of an affordable housing development, but public access is required. Smaller communities might identify one site; larger communities might think about identifying sites that are at least 1/2 mile apart. There seem to be few restrictions.
ITDRC uses paid staff and a corps of qualified volunteers to do this work. It takes 30-60 days for equipment to be installed. For those interested, they generally use Ubiquity access points.
Complete information is on their web site. They would prefer that each site host complete their own application so that all the information goes directly into their system.
Let’s keep them busy in Minnesota!