Designing for mobile activities : WiFi hotspots and users in Quebec City

Authors: Doyle, Michael Robert
Advisor: Després, Carole
Abstract: New information and communication technologies (NICT) are transforming the way people conduct activities in spaces outside the home and office. With the spread of wireless Internet (WiFi) into public and semi-public places and the increasing number of mobile devices capable of accessing the Internet, the city is now full of places where activities can be conducted remotely. Studies looking at the impact by NICT frequently address its impact on the social ambiance of places, but rarely consider the physical nature of its use. Seldom is WiFi approached by architects and urban planners as a design element—or it is reduced to something seen as ancillary or even invasive. This study, which was carried out as part of a Masters of science in architecture thesis conducted in Quebec City at the Interdisciplinary Research Group on the Suburbs (GIRBa) at Université Laval, addresses this latter judgment critically by looking at WiFi use and users as sources of inspiration for designing urban places of gathering in the 21st century. Through the analysis of data from the central server of a local Quebec City non-profit WiFi provider, ZAP Québec, an Internet survey conducted among sixty-three WiFi users and a spatial analysis using Christopher Alexander’s Pattern Language (1977), this Master’s thesis shows that the geographic variations of WiFi use can aid in orienting the development of WiFi networks and the places where WiFi is to be used. A typology of users also sheds light on a certain set of individuals who use WiFi and their varying practices. While the exploratory nature of this study may raise more questions than it answers, its findings aid in proposing a variety of approaches to WiFi integration within the urban environment as well as several directions for future research.
Document Type: Mémoire de maîtrise
Issue Date: 2011
Open Access Date: 17 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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