A New Wi-Fi Network For Liberty City

As the student team from FIU that built the first internal Wi-Fi network in Liberty City, our first lesson was that not everyone has easy Internet access, even in this modern age. The partnership between Miami-Dade and Florida International University to build an internal Wi-Fi network in the Liberty Square Community Center in Liberty City proved to be beneficial and empowering for all involved.

We interacted with Liberty City community leaders – their passion for the community is contagious – but mostly, we met with the students from Miami Northwestern Senior High School. There, we had the opportunity to listen to the students and learn about their dreams, frustrations, and goals. So we not only wish to discuss the work we did in our effort to better serve this community, but to share the positive impact the residents of Liberty City had on us.

As a class, we built the website, libertysquarewifi.com. Its purpose is to serve as a digital community space, where residents can learn about digital literacy, local businesses, community events, and more. Our team was responsible for creating the Digital Library, encompassing e-books and other online resources, such as links to search for job opportunities and a glossary containing digital literacy terms.

The biggest task was creating the library and making sure there was an abundance of e-books, covering many popular genres. One of the ways we narrowed our search was by generating a survey for the students of Miami Northwestern, asking what their interests were, how often they read, and what their general feelings were about reading. It was extremely useful and moving. The students were elaborate in their answers, and we could see most were captivated by the opportunity to express themselves. Yes, the purpose was to decide whether we should focus on providing more romance or mystery novels, but in turn, we got to know them. That was the bigger picture.

Internet access is important and necessary in today’s world. The fact that neighborhoods are limited in obtaining Internet access in the United States shouldn’t be acceptable. We need to do more, and that’s the most important thing we learned from this experience.

We learned more than the technicalities of setting up a Wi-Fi network, it’s ins and outs. We grew frustrated with the lack of consistency, knowing there was nothing we could do until we had a bucket truck, and we rejoiced when real progress was made. But the greatest accomplishment was learning about the community’s history and its residents. So many of us at FIU are from South Florida, yet some of us found ourselves ignorant to the state of Liberty City.

It wasn’t just an assignment – it was an investment, for us as FIU students and for the students at Miami Northwestern. There we were, collaborating. This partnership between high school and university students was not only enjoyable, but inspiring. We left each session with more knowledge about one another, and because of that, we came to know how to help each other.

Our team saw first-hand the benefits the Wi-Fi system will serve to the community and students at nearby schools. The greatest rewards from this project has been completing tasks and knowing we were moving closer to the setup of the Liberty Square Wi-Fi Network.

Our desire is that the residents really do benefit and enjoy the network we have built. But most importantly, we hope it doesn’t become stagnant. We hope the network is a constant living and growing resource for the community.

As a team, we express our gratitude for the patience and openness of the residents in Liberty City. We couldn’t have done this without them.

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