King County Library System (KCLS) has partnered with the Washington State Broadband Office and others to add drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots at four library locations. The public-private partnership seeks to bridge the digital divide between those with and without access to high-speed internet connections for distance learning, remote work, telemedicine and other essential services. Over 300 new drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots will be added across the state to increase access to free public internet.The
KCLS has continued to broadcast its standard public Wi-Fi signal throughout the pandemic closure. In some cases, the signal extends outside library buildings and into parking lots, but user experience varies from site to site. Through this project, residents will now be able to access reliable Wi-Fi in the following library parking lot locations: Carnation, Fall City, Muckleshoot and North Bend.
“Public libraries are strong advocates of digital equity,” said KCLS Executive Director Lisa Rosenblum. “This has been a challenging time for those who rely on the library for internet access, and we hope this new service helps connect families and communities to the digital resources they need.”
The new drive-in Wi-Fi network name is “HomeworkHub,” which is different from KCLS’ standard Wi-Fi name, “kcls.org wireless.” Residents do not need a library card or Wi-Fi password to access either network. For assistance connecting to Wi-Fi, contact Ask KCLS at kcls.org/ask or call (425) 462-9600 or (800) 462-9600.
Funding for the drive-in Wi-Fi hotspot project comes from the Washington State Broadband Office in collaboration with the Washington State Public Works Board. Additional funding is provided by Microsoft’s Airband Initiative and The Avista Foundation.
KCLS encourages patrons to continue taking advantage of online services and resources while KCLS’ physical buildings remain closed to the public. Residents in the KCLS service area (in King County, outside the city of Seattle) can sign up instantly for a digital eCard to access the library online. Patrons may also use KCLS’ new Curbside to Go pickup service, available at select library locations. Find one near you at kcls.org/curbside. Visit kcls.org/reopening to learn more about KCLS’ multiphase plan to expand services.