Targeted Wi-Fi: Micro-Local

The Boston Globe has set up two Wi-Fi hotspots that let users access rich information about the immediate area — and only about the immediate area.

The “Pulse Points” tie into the newspaper’s new “The Pulse of Boston” branding campaign launched two weeks ago. The installations are designed to demonstrate the newspaper’s ability to capture the pulse of every point in the city. The sites roll out without advertising, though execs at the New York Times Company paper say the opportunity is there.

“Our focus right now is getting [Pulse Points] up and running,” said D.C. Denison, the Boston Globe’s technology editor. “They [advertisements] would be this hyper-local stuff. There’s five places within 100 feet where you can get a cup of coffee — and a coupon for a cup of coffee.”

One hotspot is hosted by Barbara’s Bestsellers in South Station. Trident Booksellers and Café on Upper Newberry Street, an early Wi-Fi hotspot installation, hosts the second location.

Each site lets users access articles from the newspaper’s archives and other points of interest around the immediate area. Plans to roll out new locations and offer deeper information and more services — think hyper-local IM, scavenger hunts, and “missed connections” personals — are evolving.

The paper’s technology editor, D.C. Denison, along with Tech Superpowers CEO and free Wi-Fi advocate Michael Oh came up with the concept. Denison affectionately referred to the project as a “skunkworks” experiment. After a testing period, the newspaper became interested and branded the locations.

“I think it’s a way for [the newspaper] to show how deep we go with Boston and New England,” said Denison. “A way to test ourselves to see if we can say anything interesting and meaningful about very small urban intersections.”

Success in the Pulse Points roll out could mean expansion to other New York Times Company papers in other cities, such as the New York Times and the Miami Herald. Denison is happy to expand coverage in Boston, but expresses great enthusiasm about the prospect of a New York installation. “We’re open to anything at this point,” he said, “[We’re just] experimenting and having fun with the idea.”

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