A little while ago, we visited Huub Schuurmans from the Wireless Leiden Foundation in - you guessed it - Leiden. For me (Merel) that was a trip down memory lane so to speak...
The Wireless Leiden Foundation has established an open, inexpensive, fast wireless network for Leiden and surrounding villages. It is an independent network, which technically links up seamlessly to the Internet, but can also be used for free local communication within the Leiden region. And since I studied in Leiden a long time ago, I am only too familiar with the network. As a student of course you don’t have any money for anything, so free wireless internet is almost literally a gift from heaven.
What does free internet have to do with Commonfare? Everything. In addition to the unconditional basic income, good, democratic management of the common goods also plays an important role, as does free access to indispensable services such as transport, housing, culture, education and knowledge. And especially for the latter, internet of course has become essential.
What is interesting about Wireless Leiden is that they do not focus so much on service (you can not call a help desk 24 hours a day if you cannot connect) but mostly on the construction of infrastructure. And that infrastructure offers the unique possibility to develop and test new techniques and applications for instance in the area of the Internet of Things. Yet Huub also says that it is especially in the vicinity of Leiden that people often are still dependent on Wireless Leiden for their day-to-day normal internet.
Wireless Leiden only works with professional volunteers. It really is a community network. All of their software, technologies and organizational knowledge are made freely available to others under an open source license. So if you are thinking ‘I want that!’ do visit their website and don’t forget to look at their ‘projects’ section for inspiration.