Most of the places I have lived during the last few years have been permeated by more than ten overlapping WiFi networks. Apartments and businesses each have their own internet connection which they connect to their own devices via a wireless router.
Unfortunately, the effect of so many simultaneously operating networks can be one of disruptive interference between them. Everyone gets slower and patchier internet access as all the routers compete for the relatively small number of communication channels that are part of the WiFi standard.
It would be really neat if people could develop software to allow routers to engage with each other intelligently. Consumers could program in their preferences regarding total bandwidth usage, whether to let strangers use their network, and so on. The routers could then make intelligent use of the infrastructure that is available: turning off less capable WiFi hotspots to reduce interference, directing traffic through the connections of those with large bandwidth caps, and deploying encryption technology to foil some of the illegal surveillance that has become commonplace around the world. There could even be a quid pro quo system implemented; people who are willing to share their internet connection with strangers could be granted priority access by the routers of others. By sharing my home internet connection in Toronto, for instance, I might be given a login credential that I could use with appropriate routers in other cities. With a big enough network of users, such connection sharing could be very useful.
This isn’t a system that would need to be deployed all at once by all router manufacturers. A few could adopt a voluntary standard for cooperation between routers. That would allow for some real-world testing and the identification of any problems related to functionality or security. In the end, the result could be the bottom-up development of a more effective and secure mechanism for wireless internet access in high-density environments.