The number of people visiting Wetherby town centre recovered to near pre-pandemic levels before the start of the second national lockdown, according to analysis of the public WiFi network.
IntechnologySmartCities said average footfall in October was just seven per cent lower than in March and 50 per cent higher than in May and June during the first national lockdown.
Nearly 5,800 people have registered for the wireless network since it launched in April 2019 to increase the historic town’s access to the digital economy.
Councillor Neil O’Byrne, Mayor of Wetherby, said: “I am delighted the WiFi data indicates that many people, of all ages, are out and about in Wetherby town centre.
“I hope this is an indication that people are supporting our local traders, some of whom are operating on a ‘click and collect’ basis with reduced opening hours.
“The message is that Wetherby is open for business though adhering to the current rules to keep us all safe and well.”
IntechnologySmartCities is managing the network on behalf of Wetherby Town Council at no cost to the taxpayer.
The best-in-class network offers speeds of up to one gigabit per second, which is faster than virtually all home WiFi networks and on a par with the best business services.
This means users can enjoy ultrafast access to the internet via their phones, laptops and computers without running up large bills for data usage.
Victor Hawkins, Chairman of Welcome to Wetherby, said: “The free public WiFi is boosting digital connectivity for local businesses and encouraging visitors to spend more time in Wetherby town centre.
“We look forward to welcoming more people back to Wetherby after the easing of lockdown restrictions so they can enjoy our wonderful Christmas lights and decorations and stock up on presents and provisions.”
The network can be found at _wetherbyfreewifi. It is family friendly, fully compliant with data protection laws and has an above-standard security level due to its public interface.
Natalie Duffield, Chief Executive of IntechnologySmartCities, said: “We expect that towns like Wetherby will flourish in the coming years as remote working becomes the norm and people have less need to commute into city centres.
“Instead, they are spending more time and money closer to home, which is great news for local high streets and independent businesses. This trend highlights the need for town centres to have strong public WiFi networks.”
IntechnologySmartCities specialises in free public connectivity to boost digital inclusion and enable innovation in public services.
The company, formerly known as IntechnologyWiFi, has deployed the UK’s largest free public WiFi network in Edinburgh, attracting nearly 1.1m users, and rolled out one of the UK’s first citywide IoT networks in Coventry, which is monitoring air quality to help reduce pollution.
It has also installed a super-fast WiFi service at the new NHS Nightingale Hospital in the North East.