Chinatown visitors to get free Wi-Fi access from March 28

A free Wi-Fi network, which will be implemented on March 28, will cover five areas in Chinatown, namely Smith Street, Trengganu Street, Pagoda Street, Sago Street and Kreta Ayer Square. The network, operated by SingTel wil runs at the speed of 360 mbps, and will be able to accommodate up to 2,000 wireless devices at any one point.

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Here is a statement from the Singapore Tourism Board:

Visitors to Chinatown will soon be able to access a free street-level Wi-Fi network and search for information and interesting stories on the precinct's history, landmarks and variety of offerings while on the go. When users log on to the Wi-Fi network, they will also be able to access a map of Chinatown that will highlight popular landmarks and places of interest such as the Sri Mariamman Temple and the Chinatown Food Street.

Scheduled for implementation on March 28, the Wi-Fi network will cover five areas in the popular tourist precinct, namely Smith Street, Trengganu Street, Pagoda Street, Sago Street and Kreta Ayer Square. The Chinatown Wi-Fi initiative is spearheaded by the Chinatown Business Association (CBA) and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB). To complement the launch of the Wi-Fi network, STB will also be organising a tech brainstorm event to solicit ideas for a digital programme or application that will enhance visitors' understanding and experience of the Chinatown story.

"We are excited to be the first cultural precinct in Singapore to offer a free street-level Wi-Fi service for visitors. Visitors today are increasingly digital-savvy and often plan their itineraries on the move. Having easy access to online travel sources via the free Wi-Fi network will enable visitors to discover hidden gems and deepen their understanding of Chinatown and its colourful heritage. We also hope to generate more conversations about Chinatown on the social media sphere through visitors' instant updates on their experiences on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram," says Mr James Ong, the executive director of CBA.

The free Wi-Fi network, operated by SingTel, runs at the speed of 360 mbps, and is able to accommodate up to 2,000 wireless devices at any one point.

The Chinatown coLAB 2014, a tech brainstorm event organised by STB, will take place over the weekend of March 28 to 30 in Chinatown. The event aims to bring together some 100 participants from various backgrounds including software developers, designers, urban planners, students and Chinatown or heritage enthusiasts to brainstorm digital solutions that can bring alive the stories and heritage of Chinatown .

To deepen their understanding of Chinatown, participants will first get to tour Chinatown and attend talks on the precinct's heritage, technology adoption in the tourism sector, urban design and storytelling techniques. They will also be given access to visitor data sets to develop their concepts and ensure effectiveness in reaching their target audience. Participants need not possess prior knowledge in digital programming.

The teams will present their prototypes to a panel of judges comprising travel industry partners and tech experts on the final day of the event. The winning concepts may be developed into digital applications or web-based solutions for the Chinatown precinct.

"The Chinatown coLAB is meant to achieve two objectives. As part of the ongoing efforts to enhance visitors' experience in Chinatown, we hope to have new ideas on how to leverage technology to augment the storytelling aspects of Chinatown. This will suit the needs of the increasingly tech-savvy and sophisticated group of visitors whom we now see in Singapore," says Mr Poh Chi Chuan, Director of Cultural Precincts and Tourism Concept Development, Singapore Tourism Board.

"Secondly, the coLAB is a good platform to engage passionate individuals to contribute relevant knowledge and ideas that will deepen appreciation of the precinct's culture and heritage among visitors. We hope that the local Chinatown community, students and heritage enthusiasts, regardless of their depth of digital knowledge, will join us at the Chinatown coLAB," Mr Poh adds.

Registration for Chinatown coLAB commenced on March 5, and will close on March 28.