In the nearly 7 years I’ve lived and worked in Washington, finding working wifi has been a constant battle around the District. Yesterday, I was astonished and elated to find a working, robust wireless network operating in the basement of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building at the White House.
This shouldn’t be that exciting in 2016, but it was, and remains so, particularly in the basement theater that’s a deadzone for cell phones. I’ve gotten online there in past years but rarely without difficulty or disruption.
In the @WhiteHouse EEOB. Impressed that they have robust wifi. Here's the #SafetyData event agenda: pic.twitter.com/O16mIYWa
— Alex Howard (@digiphile) September 14, 2012
Functional White House wifi enabled the people at the forum I attended to get online to share what they were experiencing, including participating in the online backchannel on Twitter and uploading selfies. This was the first time I’ve been asked to take a selfie with strangers at the White House. As precedents go, it’s not earthshaking, but it’s an interesting reflection of our wired moment.
Selfies as a way to make new friends at the @WhiteHouse? Why not! #opendata pic.twitter.com/Y8ZpBwhdvR
— Kate McCall-Kiley (@KateMcCallKiley) March 7, 2016
It’s taken the Obama administration most of two terms to upgrade this aspect of White House’s IT infrastructure — when staff showed up in 2009, they found computers still running Windows 98 — but they’re leaving the place better than they found it.
My favorite public place to log onto a public wireless network, however, still remains the House Public network in “the People’s House” in the Rayburn Office Building.