The City of Ekurhuleni seems to be well on track towards providing fast and reliable WiFi and internet related services to its over three million residents.

Although the city only began launching free WiFi last year, it’s proving not to be outdone by its fellow metro cities Joburg and Tshwane, who are also forging ahead with plans to connect virtually every citizen in their cities.

Ekurhuleni revealed to htxt.africa the progress made in its Digital City plan to date and plans for the future recently and here’s the breakdown.

What’s included in the Digital City plan?

The Ekurhuleni Digital City plan comprises four main areas of focus:

• Broadband infrastructure (Fibre connectivity through out Ekurhuleni)

• Wireless infrastructure: Provision of broadband wireless overlay (WiFi-based)

• Enterprise Operation Centre/Unified Command Centre (UCC): Central hosting of service delivery teams in one location to improve city’s response time.

• Ekurhuleni eCitizen Services

The city hopes that, by getting residents connected, this will in turn impact on improving access to information and educational resources, increasing economic growth and keep friends and families in touch.

Altogether, this is what the city plans to have achieved by June 2018:

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What has been achieved so far

In November, the City of Ekurhuleni kicked off its public WiFi roll out by announcing 223 sites that were live and ready for residents to use.

The city said it would take three years to have WiFi available in 695 municipal sites including libraries, city halls, clinics, swimming pools and more.

The budget for the WiFi project was originally set at R120 million, while fibre is set to cost a total of R208 million.

Since launch 940 WiFi hotspots across 235 sites are live, while 157 fibre hotspots spanning 602 kilometres have been connected. R40 million has been spent so far on WiFi and R48 million on fibre.

To connect to the WiFi network, turn WiFi on and select “Ekurhuleni Free WiFi”, connect and you’ll be redirected to the WiFi home page where you’ll have to agree to the terms and conditions before being able to make use of the 250MB daily data available to you.

This is what the WiFi network’s usage stats look like to date:

Screenshot (40)

The network reportedly has racked up 62 901 unique users since launch.

The city has also completed the conceptual design for its Unified Command Centre, a multi-discipline, multi-department command and control centre to provide integrated service delivery to the public.

The Boksburg Fire station site was selected to construct a building for the UCC, which will host a Centralised Customer Care Centre for both life public threatening and non-life threatening services.

Core services like CCTV surveillance, vehicle tracking and dispatch will also be operated from the UCC.

What’s in the works for the near future?

Ekurhuleni has 530 fibre sites, 460 WiFi sites and 2060 more WiFi hotspots to go before it reaches its targets. Around 85 kilometres of fibre will be purchased and 82 kilometres of fibre will be installed this year.

A new customer citizen incident logging app app and USSD service will be launched by the end of March and June 2016, respectively.

Residents will be able to use these to report any issues related to services such as electricity, water, pot holes and street lights, etc.

In September this year, the city will host its second annual Learnerthon, where young Ekurhuleni residents are gathered to develop solutions for the city, using its open data portal.

See where you can find existing sites on the City of Ekurhuleni website (note that the website only lists 223 of the 235 live sites).