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London aims for city-wide Wi-Fi and data store by 2012

London mayor Boris Johnson is trying to persuade borough councils to help turn the city into a Wi-Fi hot spot by the time of the 2012 Olympics.

A spokesman for the mayor's office said there was no budget as yet, but 22 of London's 33 boroughs had signed up in principle to the idea.

Johnson plans to use street furniture such as lamp posts and bus signs to host Wi-Fi antennae that would provide public access to high-speed communications.

"London is the home of technological innovation. We in City Hall are doing our best to keep up, and one of our most important projects is called Wi-Fi London. Every lamp post and every bus stop will one day very soon, and before the 2012 Olympics, be Wi-Fi enabled," he told a Google Zeitgeist meeting this week.

"We are doing everything we can to promote technology in London, including putting all the information we have into the public domain," he said.

Johnson said the city would copy the government's Data.gov initiative, led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee, to make more city-owned data publically available for entrepreneurs to use and re-use. The London Data Store was "probably a huge revenue opportunity" forgone to the city, but it was the right thing to do, he said.

The mayor singled out an iPhone app which will show the location of bicycles for London's planned bike hire scheme as an example of how this data could be used.

"Not only can you see where the bikes are, but you will also be able to tell how many bikes the local yobbos have left there," he said.


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