Free public WiFi to be set up in Seaham - here's how you can connect
Free WiFi is being introduced in Seaham as part of a multi-million pound scheme to enhance the vibrancy of towns and villages in County Durham.
It is hoped the free public WiFi, which has been funded by Durham Count Council, will help boost footfall in the town centre after coronavirus restrictions are lifted.
Visitors will be able to log on to the ‘Connected Seaham’ system between the west end of Church Street to the Marina, and from the north end of North Terrace to Byron Place Shopping Centre.
People can connect to the WiFi, which is being installed by technology integrator North, by completing a simple form or through social media – they will then be automatically reconnected whenever they return to the area.
The scheme hopes to encourage people to spend more time in the town centre, which in turn will increase the takings of local businesses and support the county’s economic recovery following the pandemic.
The council say this will be further boosted by a programme of digital support for retailers to encourage them to increase their online presence, and the creation of new local apps providing heritage tours and promoting retail opportunities and offers.
Karan Batey, who runs Karan’s Florists in Church Street in Seaham, said: “I think introducing free public WiFi in the town centre is a brilliant idea. The last year has been incredibly tough for businesses and this will hopefully encourage people to spend more time in the town centre when the shops are able to reopen again.”
Seaham is the latest location to benefit from the £1.3 million project following in the footsteps of Stanley and Bishop Auckland who received the system last March.
Coun Carl Marshall, Durham County Council’s Cabinet member for economic regeneration, said: “In this increasingly digital age people are finding more ways to connect with each other.
"This project will enhance the experience for residents and visitors, attracting more people into our towns, increasing footfall and levels of spend, and boosting our visitor economy, particularly as we look ahead to the county’s recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.”
As well as enhancing the experience of the visitors to Seaham town centre, the WiFi project will support the Towns and Villages programme through the anonymous footfall data it collects.
This includes identifying the number of new and repeat visitors, the length of time people spend in specific areas and the routes they take, day and night. The council can then use this data to monitor the impact of high street changes and shape future investment.
Data captured from Bishop Auckland town centre has already been used to support significant funding applications, including a successful £19.9million bid to the Future High Streets Fund.
David Ruthven, sales director at North, said: “WiFi and the real-time data it captures has an increasingly important role in regenerating the high street, and with added pressures as a result of the pandemic, it’s important that the council can provide services that not only enhance local areas but contribute to making them safer for residents and visitors."