Belfast takes next steps in its smart city initiative by providing residents and visitors with free calls and WiFi via street kiosks.
Belfast City Council is to deploy internet-connected street hubs to provide free internet and local calls to citizens in the next stage of its Smart Belfast programme.
The hubs will also offer free mobile phone charging and mobile data offloading; a defibrillator; access to local services, visitor information; and sensors that capture crucial data on air quality, traffic flow and footfall.
The council plans to create a network of 30 of the hubs, with deployment starting in October by a partnership with Pulse Smart Hub, Belfast based telecommunications operator Euro Payphone and outdoor advertising company Exterion Media UK.
Councillor Lee Reynolds, DUP group leader on Belfast City Council, commented on the hubs initiative in a statement: “Positioning Belfast as a smart city is a key priority for the council and is at the heart of establishing the city as an outstanding place to live, work and invest.
"The Pulse Smart Hub network involves a significant private investment and will deliver state-of-the-art digital infrastructure throughout the city centre.
"The network will increase connectivity and provide a range of free services to the public; and the fact that each hub will house a public access defibrillator is of huge public benefit and will help to save lives in the future."
The initiative is part of the council's Smart Belfast programme, which brings together universities, businesses, local government and citizens to collaborate using technology and data science to make Belfast a better place to live and work. The council has set out the principles of the programme in its Smart Belfast framework.
The framework fits with the Belfast Agenda, the city's plans to make sure that "public services work together with communities to deliver real improvements for local people".
In an interview last autumn, Deborah Colville, smart cities portfolio manager for Belfast City Council, told UKAuthority: “New projects need to build the ecosystem and data infrastructure, building the foundations as you go. It’s less about standalone projects than a coherent approach, like taking a jigsaw and seeing how it fits together.”
Image: by Ty CC BY 2.0 through flickr