Gloppen is a Norwegian town located in the southern shores of the Nordfjorden, north of Bergen. Surrounded by unspoiled nature and clear lakes, the municipality is home to a motivated group of young people committed to improving connectivity in the area. The Local and Youth Councils came together to discuss solutions and apply for WiFi4EU.
The municipality of Gloppen is among the 82 Norwegian beneficiaries of the WiFi4EU initiative, which promotes free access to Wi-Fi connectivity for citizens in public spaces. The WiFi4EU team spoke with Birte Kjørvik Fossheim, Development and Planning Advisor, to discover how the Local Council teamed up with the Youth Council to better understand the digital needs of the citizens of Gloppen and find opportunities to improve the daily life in the municipality.
The youth of Gloppen first came up with idea to apply for a EUR 15,000 WiFi4EU voucher to offer free connectivity to locals and visitors. “Our local Youth Council had heard about other places with free Wi-Fi in the city center”, explained Fossheim, “They asked if this was possible in our spaces, and then we received information about WiFi4EU.” Thanks to this collaboration, the municipality was granted a voucher during the first call of the initiative, which took place in November 2018. The WiFi4EU network was officially launched in June 2019, in presence of the leader of the Youth Council, Kristine Strøm. “Our young ones were very happy about the free Wi-Fi in the city enter. This is a nice place for them to meet”, said Fossheim.
Thanks to the WiFi4EU grant, the municipality of Gloppen was able to install 10 hotspots across the different hamlets. Parks and squares in Sandane, Hyen, Byrkjelo and Reed are now offering free Wi-Fi to citizens and tourists, who can recognize the spots thanks to the WiFi4EU signs displayed in the designated areas. As Fossheim explained, the Local Council “choose spots in public places that are already a meeting place for inhabitants and tourist who visit the area, guided by the terms from WiFi4EU about the network being public for everyone. Citizens are happy and positively surprised about the free Wi-Fi.”
With a brand new Wi-Fi network, visitors will be able to stay connected in the stunning natural surroundings of Gloppen, ranging from large glaciers to high-alpine mountains of some 1,800 metres, while locals will take advantage of free connectivity to make use of the numerous digital services offered by the municipality. “Our municipality already works with different solution for e-services. The free Wi-Fi networks will allow people without home Wi-Fi to use our e-services”, concluded Fossheim.