Washington residents will soon have greater access to free public broadband internet access as more than 300 new drive-in Wi-Fi hotspots are coming online through an initiative driven by state and private partners.

The COVID-19 pandemic prompted a surge in ongoing efforts to bridge the gap between those who do and do not have access to high-speed internet connections necessary for distance learning, remote work, telemedicine, and day-to-day essential services.

To date, 140 of the new drive-in hotspots are operational, in addition to 301 existing Washington State Library hotspots identified across the state. All told, some 600 public hotspots will soon be available to keep Washington communities connected.

Launching primarily as parking lot hotspots in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the free community Wi-Fi is accessible regardless of how users arrive at the locations. Some sites also offer indoor public access during business hours. Everyone using the sites — outside or inside — must practice social distancing and hygiene precautions, including staying in their vehicle or at least six feet from other users and wearing a mask, if necessary.

Each hotspot will have its own security protocol. Some will be open and others will have Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) safe security installed.

For complete information and a map of locations, visit driveinwifi.wa.gov. The map will be updated as more sites come online.