Back then, we called it the “coconut wireless,” when news spread quickly through word-of-mouth and jokingly indicat that Hawaii used coconuts for phones. Today, that concept has taken on a more high-tech approach. It’s what the city of Honolulu has been calling the “Kokua Wireless.”

Free wi-fi hotspots in Downtown Honolulu. The service will expand to both Ala Moana and Kapiolani parks.

Literally a wireless network, Kokua Wireless makes it easier for those seeking access to the internet. It’s free and completely community based, as local businesses volunteer to become an internet hotspot. So far, there are more than 2,400 hotspots throughout the state – from the Big Island to Oahu to Kauai. This includes beach parks as far as Nanakuli. The free wi-fi will also be expanding to Ala Moana and Kapiolani parks.

Hawaii visitors can especially benefit from this service. Stay connected with family members back home through e-mail and social networks, or if you’re lost, find directions online. Whenever I travel, I’m always on the lookout for free wi-fi, which will most times be at coffee shops. But luckily for those of you coming to Hawaii, you can get online while tanning at the beach. Kokua in Hawaiian means “to help.” Hopefully this initiative catches on in other cities around the world, as a reminder of how we can work together, even in today’s modern society.

Recently, this initiative has been named one of the world’s 100 most innovative and inspiring urban infrastructure projects. A report by KPMG International applauded Kokua Wireless for helping Honolulu become a smart and informed “City of the Future.”

KOKUA WIRELESS • Free wi-fi throughout the state (30-min sessions) • Find hotspots at www.kokuawireless.com/list-of-sponsors

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