Public-private partnership offers 18 million visitors opportunity to connect at select parks
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Wednesday Wi-Fi networks are now available free of charge to visitors at Niagara Falls, Jones Beach, Saratoga Spa and East River State Parks. Collectively, these four parks welcome more than 18 million visitors each year and account for 30 percent of all visits across the New York State Parks system. This new service is made possible by a partnership between the State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, Toyota and American Park Network.
"From Niagara Falls to Jones Beach, New York state has a tremendous array of world-class parks - and by launching Wi-Fi access at these flagship locations, we're making it easier than ever for visitors to take in everything they offer," Cuomo said. "By offering free Wi-Fi services at some of our most prominent outdoor locations, we can continue to attract more people to the great outdoors - which boosts the tourism industry and grows regional economies across the state. I am proud that our administration is partnering with the private sector on this exciting project, and encourage all New Yorkers to spend some time exploring one of the state's many unique parks this year."
State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, "Under Gov. Cuomo's leadership, we continue to make great strides to renew our state park system for the 21st century. We are grateful for our partnership with Toyota and American Park Network to enhance the overall park visitor experience by helping to make this much-needed service available. Whether using Wi-Fi to share real-time photos of friends and family exploring our parks, or accessing apps and maps, having the option to take advantage of this technology is a great way to draw more people to spend their precious leisure time at our parks."
The free service, called "Oh, Ranger! Wi-Fi," is part of a pilot program made possible through the support of the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. All of the equipment, including installation, is being provided at no cost to taxpayers as a function of this public-private partnership between State Parks, Toyota and American Park Network. State Parks will help build awareness of this service and continue to shape improvements at the parks, opening the doors of opportunity for additional Wi-Fi installations in the future.
In addition to providing free connectivity for the millions of visitors, "Oh, Ranger! Wi-Fi" also provides the opportunity to better monitor park visitation patterns, generate awareness of upcoming programs and events, promote volunteerism, and support parks friends groups like the National Heritage Trust, which supports New York State Parks.
Dionne Colvin-Lovely, national director, traditional and digital media at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A, said, "We're thrilled to partner with American Park Network and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to help make 'Oh, Ranger! Wi-Fi' a reality for the millions of New Yorkers who visit these parks each year. Supporting the needs of state parks and their guests is a perfect fit for the Toyota Prius Plug-in Hybrid. We welcome the opportunity to make a difference in local communities by helping to add value to some of the most treasured open spaces in all of New York state."
Visitors at the participating parks will be able to access the Wi-Fi in two easy steps. Users simply select "Oh, Ranger! Wi-Fi" under available Wi-Fi networks on their smart device, then accept the standard terms and conditions, and they'll be on their way to free Internet access. To view a demonstration of the new Wi-Fi connection at Jones Beach, click here.
American Park Network Publisher & Editor in Chief Mark Saferstein said, "It's really rewarding to work with such collaborative partners as Toyota and the Office of New York State Parks. It's rare to have a chance to positively impact the lives of so many people. We feel great about providing a new service that will make our parks even more accessible to the next generation of custodians who will care for these special places."
Erik Kulleseid, executive director of the Open Space Institute's Alliance for New York State Parks Program, said, "Today's announcement is a terrific example of how creative partnerships can lead to better overall experiences for park visitors. Enhancing the overall park experience though wireless service builds on Gov. Cuomo's commitment to improve, upgrade and restore New York's treasured state parks and ensure that they are safe, inviting and welcoming for generations to come."
Robin Dropkin, executive director of Parks & Trails New York, said, "New York's state parks are in the midst of an exciting revitalization, with visitation at its highest in a decade. With the addition of free Wi-Fi to these flagship parks, our iconic park system will keep moving full steam ahead into the 21st century."