THE London Borough of Camden is to become the first is the UK to trial free public Wi-Fi in a move that is being seen as a step towards it becoming a so-called Smart City.
The north London local authority is working with Google subsidiary Sidewalk Labs to integrate technology into city infrastructure and urban environments such as street lighting.
The initiative, dubbedd InLinkUK, is the first venture outside America for the firm.
Unlike New York, where pavement kiosks were provided, Camden residents will have access to a high-speed connection, charging points and units on the street that will allow people to browse maps and other local information and make free phone calls.
‘Everyone realises fast connectivity is essential for modern life. It’s an essential utility just like electricity and water,’ says Dan Doctoroff, founder of Sidewalk Labs. ‘If you want to participate in society on an equal footing you have to have access’.
Doctoroff believes his mission is to start a technological revolution in urban environments, and has a ‘growing conviction that we are at the precipice of a dramatic change in cities’.
The lighting industry has been eyeing the Smart City market with interest, as it sees the street lighting network as an obvious backbone for digital services such as Wi-Fi. In December, the UK’s first Wi-Fi-enabled exterior lighting installation was installed in Milton Keynes.
In what engineers are describing as a ‘proof of concept’, the interactive streetlight outside the football ground on MK Dons FC also includes 360-degree LED lighting, CCTV and a remote-controlled public address system.
The CCTV system and PA speaker – for match day announcements – are both connected to the MK Dons control room to allow instant access and remote control.
Glasgow has also been pioneering an extensive intelligent lighting network which has Wi-Fi capabilities.
- This year’s LuxLive 2017 exhibition and conference will feature a special ‘smart spaces campus’ which will explore how digital services can be delivered by street lighting. The event takes place on Wednesday 15 November and Thursday 16 November 2017. Entry is free is you pre-register HERE
Picture: Alan Rostron Photography 2017