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Local Government Can Benefit from Its Public WiFi

  • by: Megan Flatt
  • On: 15, Jun 2017
7 min read

When someone thinks of deriving data about an entity’s patrons or guests to improve the entity’s marketing, they might think that this would be useful only for restaurants or retail businesses. However, cities and municipalities can also greatly benefit from knowing more about the people who visit their venues, use their facilities, and participate in their events.  

A city, just like a retail business, needs to reach its target audience through effective channels to distribute publications and marketing materials. A city also wants to increase engagement of its patrons, so its events are better attended and its revenues are increased. And, a city needs to ensure that the products and services it provides to its citizens meet those citizens' expectations.

Just as retail businesses turn to Wi-Fi marketing and analytics platforms for help, so should local government.

Making Use of Public Wi-Fi

Many local government entities offer free Wi-Fi in certain of their locations.  For example, the City of St. Petersburg, Florida, offers Wi-Fi in its municipal services center, at City Hall, at its six library locations, and at the Coliseum--a historic, multi-use event facility owned by the city.  In providing the public Wi-Fi service, the City of St. Petersburg has vast untapped potential for its marketing efforts.

Let’s say a well-attended event is held at the Coliseum.  Hundreds of local guests will spend a few hours at the venue.  If free Wi-Fi is offered, many of the guests will opt to connect.  Or, consider the well-known process of paying a parking ticket.  For those who want to dispute their ticket or who believe they received the ticket by mistake, an in-person visit is usually the first stop.  As the individual sits and waits to be called, they are likely to connect to public Wi-Fi.

In either instance, the City has an opportunity to snag very valuable information. Each of the patron's cell phones has its own unique MAC address.  So, without those guests even connecting to the Wi-Fi, a Wi-Fi analytics platform can recognize and log each of the unique addresses once the guest is in range of the Wi-Fi network.  If the Wi-Fi platform requires an email address for log-in, the city now has a rolodex of the attendees’ email addresses.  

From Wi-Fi Marketing to Automated Marketing

Right as the guests log-in to the Wi-Fi, the City has a great channel to market its services and events. By including messaging on the log-in landing page, the City can provide information about local services, answer frequently asked questions, provide discounts on merchandise at the Chamber of Commerce store, suggest local events, and much more.  

Plus, now that the City has a target audience with associated emails (bonus points!), the City’s marketing team can go to work.  They can use this channel to provide publications to the guests who attended the event, such as a newsletter with upcoming events, a copy of the events calendar, or even targeted “Save the Date” emails regarding upcoming events that might appeal to the guests based upon the prior event(s) they attended.  

With email addresses, the City’s marketing staff can automate myriad marketing campaigns.  


While the marketing channel is a huge plus, it may be the ability to generate data from the Wi-Fi analytics tool that really interests the folks back at the office.  Knowing how long an individual is sitting and waiting to pay their parking ticket could be very valuable. From this data, the City may choose to cut back its waiting room space at a particular office, or adjust its hours of operation. Or, it may realize that more staff is required to help handle the volume.

Attendance at events is also key information.  If tickets aren’t required, how will City staff know who attended their event? How will they know how many people attended? How will they know which guest is a repeat versus a first time attendee? With a Wi-Fi analytics platform, they will have that information. If certain types of events are very popular, the City can plan to have more similar events in the future. Or, it can cut back on certain events if attendance is dwindling.  

"Overall, how satisfied were you with..."

Marketers for government--local and Federal--cringe at the answer to this question.  Although local government fares a little better than the Federal government, overall most American’s rank government entities at the bottom of the pile when it comes to satisfaction. Government should be taking notes from the retail and restaurant industries by finding ways to incorporate more customer feedback channels, and taking action when feedback is less positive than desired.

With a Wi-Fi marketing and analytics platform, incorporating opportunities to solicit feedback is easy. Plus, a great analytics platform helps to identify and immediately remedy any negative feedback that is received. This is a win for business, and for the budget. 

Local government, like any business, experiences the pain of efficiently  and effectively managing its budget.  By having key data and metrics that it can track, a city can have a leg-up on making future budgeting and event decisions, and incorporate a cost-effective way to improve and enhance its marketing.  

Learn How To Make Wi-Fi Work For You  |  Download 5 Steps To High-Performing Customer Wi-Fi 



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