Cowdenbeath traders received what is hoped will be a business boost with the launch of free Wi-Fi for shoppers and visitors. The Wi-Fi was switched on over the weekend of 4th December 2016.

The Cowdenbeath town centre Wi-Fi will offer an opportunity to all local retailers, business owners and community groups to promote their activity locally.

Funding for the Wi-Fi in the town centre was provided by the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Communities Capital Fund. Funding has also helped pay for winter tree lighting to brighten the area around the Leisure Centre car park, the purchase of gazebos which were put to great use as part of the recent Christmas lights switch-on, and it is hoped will encourage market activity and enterprise in the town centre.

The project aims to encourage people to spend more time in the town by offering free internet access and to help small businesses and the wider community to better utilise digital technology and stimulate wider communication with their customers.

A Fife Council spokesperson says:

“The Wi-Fi installation will provide Cowdenbeath traders with an invaluable insight into their customers’ behaviour and, even more important, an outstanding commercial opportunity to interact with them as well as promoting and marketing forthcoming offers and new products.”

A report by Point Topic on the general usefulness of public wi-fi hotspots cited that public wi-fi managed by local authorities support digitial inclusion and provides positive social impact by reaching out to the community through digital means and reducing the costs of the local authority.

The report further highlights the potential revenue generation for local businesses as visitors may spend more “dwell time” in the area. There is also the potential to monetise data collected on users of the network by selling this data to third parties. As yet issues around data privacy and local authorities’ ability to track and analyse data on citizens have not been resolved.

Privacy concerns aside, with the network in place this will help put in place technological infrastructure for the development of smart towns & cities and help supports IoT devices (Internet of Things). IoT devices such as smart bins that can notify the local authority when they are needing emptied, or lamposts that can notify repair teams when they are broken would help reduce costs for the local authority.

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