Blocking Adult Content on Public WiFi

As the manager of a venue that offers Free WiFi, you want to make sure that it is fast, reliable, and secure.  You also want to make sure that your patrons have a comfortable experience.  You want them to choose to come back again and again.

One of your visitors accidentally or intentionally looking at adult content while using your Public WiFi is a tricky situation.  This behavior can make your other guests uncomfortable.  This sometimes leads to your internet service provider (ISP) threatening to cancel your service.  You also don't want minors accidentally viewing this material at your space.

So what can you do about it?

The Debate

There are usually two approaches when it comes to handling adult content on Public WiFi systems.  Both options have been listed here so you can choose which approach seems more appropriate for you.

Personal Responsibility

The first approach is to say that the internet should be free and never filtered.  This group believes that all WiFi guests take responsibility.  They believe that if a patron or guest is using the WiFi inappropriately, then this person should be banned either permanently or for a period of time from the venue.  All other guests should have fast, unrestricted open access to the internet except for perhaps filtering known virus or malware sites.  Often venues with this approach offer educational classes on how to safely use the internet.  They may also require clicking through the terms of service when first joining the WiFi.

Content Filtering

The second approach is to filter certain content or websites and make this content unavailable on the Free WiFi.  This group believes that it is the venues responsibility to create a positive browsing environment for all guests.  This approach usually involves configuring the guest WiFi equipment to make best effort attempts to block inappropriate content.  Some venues also choose to do a mix of both content filtering, education, and terms of service click through options as well.

Technical Solutions

There are several technical solutions that may help you and your venue no matter which camp you fall into.  Here are two technical solutions that can help you provide your patrons with a positive WiFi experience.

DNS Filtering

DNS is short for Domain Name System.  This is what translates a public IP Address like 199.59.149.165 into the more well know twitter.com.  DNS Filtering is when you allow a service to only translate good or safe websites to your browser, while ignoring or blocking any websites seen as bad.  Setting up DNS Filtering is fairly simple and usually takes less than 10 minutes.

There are several options for public WiFi depending on which approach you consider more appropriate.

Google DNS - No Content Filtering, but Fast

Google DNS is probably the most well known DNS Setting in the world.  By setting your DNS Settings to 8.8.8.8, you are guaranteed to have fast, reliable DNS that is unfiltered.  You can learn more about Google DNS here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Public_DNS

Quad9 - No Content Filtering, but Malware Filtering

Quad9 is a DNS option that is fast and secure.  By setting your DNS Settings to 9.9.9.9, you will have fast, secure, reliable DNS that also blocks most of the known malware and phishing websites.  You can learn more about Quad9 at their website https://www.quad9.net/

OpenDNS - Filters Adult Content, but mainly for enterprise lately

OpenDNS is the original content filtering DNS system.  It has basic content filtering by default and several options for public venues.  This system will block adult content for you and it can also let you choose if certain social media, gambling, and other categories are filtered at your location.  OpenDNS was acquired by Cisco in 2015.  Since then, Cisco has been promoting it's Umbrella platform for enterprises while keeping OpenDNS for home systems.  Your public venue may still fall under OpenDNS licensing, but may need to upgrade to Umbrella.  For more information visit https://www.opendns.com/

CleanBrowsing - Filters Adult Content, newcomer

CleanBrowsing is a relative newcomer to this space.  The company launched in 2017, but it seems to tick several boxes appropriate to public venues as well as homes with children.  CleanBrowsing will block adult content by default.  It has both free and paid options for public venues.  They're pricing also seems reasonable.  As they are new, there is less known about them.  You can learn more by visiting https://cleanbrowsing.org/

Hardware Based Content Filters

Several Routers also include content filtering by default or as an option.  Many well known brands such as Sonicwall, Checkpoint, Sophos and Barracuda offer integrated content filtering solutions.  There are several nice things about an integrated firewall based content filter.  The content filtering happens locally.  The content filtering can often be more robust than DNS filtering alone.  For example, an inappropriate image on a Google Doc would not be filtered by a DNS filter because it is google.com, but an on premise hardware solution would still filter this.

However, if you haven't already purchased one of these firewalls for your venue, this would mean replacing your existing network equipment.  You might find it best to start off with a DNS based solution, and then as you determine your needs, upgrade to an on-premise filtering solution during your next router upgrade if appropriate.

Conclusion

You work hard to give your visitors the best possible experience in your venue.  Handling guests watching adult content on your WiFi is a challenge.  There are several options, both technical and managerial that you can use to enable a positive experience for all.  Education, Terms of Service, DNS Filtering, and Hardware based Content Filters are good choices to consider for your Free WiFi.


Cohort Analysis

Cohort Analysis is now generally available for all WhoFi customers.

The cohort function was added for directors of locations that wanted to see the direct impact of programs and events within their spaces. Rather than looking at your patrons as a single unit, breaking them into cohorts will help to identify patterns throughout the patrons life cycle.

For example, if you host a popular Creative Writing group that is on Mondays afternoons, you can add all the patrons that attend  into a cohort labeled Creative Writing.  Then as the weeks go on, you can see how often those individuals from the writing program come back.  This creates an effective way to measure the success of the program in bringing and keeping Patrons.

This same method can be used for certain bands, user groups, and more.

 

 

As you can see in the picture above, the cohort feature is found in the filter area. To create a cohort, you will first click on the data you'll want to group into a cohort. You will then be redirected to create your cohort name.  Finally, you run your WhoFi reports with the Cohort applied to see Cohort specific results.


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Insights Emails

We are excited to announce the new Insights Emails from WhoFi that you, our customer, will start receiving early in June.

The Insights Emails are a first step in helping directors or managers get a simple, digestible view of what is happening at their venue, and simple relevant steps to help improve their space. From customer conversations, it became clear that numbers for numbers sake are worthless. You don't want a bunch of numbers. You want to be able to know what's happening quickly and take actions to improve your community.

The Insights Emails are designed to give just enough information about what happened in a space, and then to give relevant blog content about steps you can take to improve your space, based on your visitor usage.

How does this help me?

Lets say you're a coworking space that's been trying to grow the number of people who visit your location. And it's turns out that last month, there was a user group that brought in a lot of first time people. But, since it was after hours, you didn't even know about it.

Here's where insights emails really shines.

The insights email will let you know about the spike at your location. It also sends a relevant blog post about how to how to dig in and find which user group caused the spike in first timers. It also suggests that you might want to have that user group or a similar user group at your space again so you can grow your membership.

The new insights emails will start going out to all customers in early June as part of your standard analytics service. We hope it helps you improve your venue, increase your membership, and ultimately improve your community.