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Miami-Dade Might Allow Alcohol Ads on Public Transit in Exchange for Free Wi-Fi

It's no secret Miami likes to throw one back. South Beach is practically synonymous with $30 fishbowl cocktails. There are entire companies that will deliver liquor right to your doorstep. Last year, Match.com called Miami the seventh booziest city for singles.

Now the county is taking advantage: To get free Wi-Fi on public transit, the commission might waive a rule that prohibits alcohol advertisements at bus stops and on trains.

The deal is part of the county's negotiation with CIVIQ Smartscapes, a Massachusetts-based company that makes its money from advertisers. In exchange for providing the blank space for ads, the county must agree to allow promotional space for beer, wine, and liquor. In turn, CIVIQ would provide free Wi-Fi and kiosks to the county at no expense to taxpayers.

The contract calls for the company to add nearly 1,100 Wi-Fi devices to all Metrobuses, as well as Metromover and Metrorail cars.

At bus stops and Metrorail and Metromover stations, CIVIQ would install up to 300 kiosks with free Wi-Fi, surveillance cameras, and real-time transportation tracking to be used by riders. (Free Wi-Fi is already available on Metrorail and buses such as the Dade-Broward I-95 Express, according to the county's website.)

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There's a lot to be excited about here, considering free Wi-Fi could be a decent incentive for people who need an extra nudge to use public transit. But the deal is likely to ruffle some feathers, given Miami is already littered with ads, from the skies to way out in our waterways.

If approved, the contract would open the door for corporations to splash their ads on buses, Metromover and Metrorail cars, and bus benches and shelters, as well as at Miami International Airport and PortMiami.

There are some restrictions, though. Per Florida law, advertisements for alcohol can't be placed within a quarter-mile of schools, hospitals, addiction treatment centers, and places of worship. The agreement also states no political advertising is to be displayed.

Provided commissioners sign off on the agreement, free Wi-Fi could be available on public transit as early as June. The county would eventually get a cut of the ad dollars and is projected to save $2.1 million in cellular charges, according to the contract.

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