It's been almost a year since the Portland City Council approved an $8.5 million replacement of street lights that would include public Wi-Fi allowing Portland to become a "smart city." Now the results of that project are appearing around Portland.

98% of cobra head lighting in the city has been replaced. You can see how these lights get their name from this photo of one on Spring Street. Notice the Wi-Fi antenna mounted on top of the light fixture.

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The second stage of the project is underway now as the smaller "pedestrian" lights that light sidewalks in areas around the Old Port are replaced. These lights on Free Street have all been replaced and also have Wi-Fi antennas attached to them.

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If you wander around Portland you may notice that the free public Wi-Fi is turned on. However I was unable to connect to it at several points in the city, so it doesn't seem like it's ready for prime time yet.

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We assume at some point Portland's free Wi-Fi will be connectable, but some language on the LED Streetlight Conversion & Smart City Project website doesn't seem clear on it.

Phase 2 Projects include:

Converting lights on pedestrian scale poles to LED

Implementing additional smart city technologies that may include broader deployment of public WiFi, additional EV charging stations, environmental sensors to monitor air quality and noise levels throughout the City, additional deployment of intelligent traffic signals.

(Specific smart city projects are being evaluated by a team led by City Manager Jon Jennings.)

That whole "may include" and the evaluation by a team seems to leave an option for it not be turned on, but let's hope not. It's also possible that my phone was the problem, but it seemed to work for any other open Wi-Fi.

I could probably just call and to a little investigative reporting, but it's much more fun to speculate. We'll keep an eye on the project website and let you know when and if it gets turned on.