Belfast has become the fist city in the UK to install a network of Pulse Smart Hubs.
The city council has switched on 15 of the hubs – which perform a variety of digital functions to support the council and the public – and is to install 10 more over the coming weeks.
The move has been funded with £3 million from the Urban Innovation Company and there is a planning application to install five more of the hubs.
The units have been positioned around the city centre and have a range of features including: a defibrillator for medical emergencies; air quality sensors; a police public messaging function on the screen; a 999 button for emergency services; public messaging from the city council; a touchscreen map to access maps, facilities and visitor information from Visit Belfast; free public WiFi; fell local and national calls; and mobile phone charging.
Lord Mayor of Belfast Deirdre Hargey and founder of the Urban Innovation Company Patrick Fisher (pictured) staged the formal launch of the project earlier this week as part of the Smart Belfast initiative, which brings together universities, businesses, local government, and citizens to exploit new technologies and data.
Fisher said: “We have been working closely with local stakeholders to ensure the Pulse Smart Hub network supports Belfast City Council’s strategic vision for smart cities and that the benefits to the city and its residents are truly maximised and available free to all.
“In the age of the smart city, street furniture must do more to earn its place on the high street. At no cost to the public or taxpayer, the Pulse Smart Hub is the smartest of smart furniture.”
Hargey commented: “As well as the impressive public health and safety features they will offer, the Pulse Smart Hubs will put Belfast on the map as a truly modern 21st century city that focuses on meeting the needs of its citizens and visitors. They are a symbol of the agencies and key stakeholders working together for the benefit of our city.”
The implementation and maintenance of the hubs will be funded through digital advertising, operated in Belfast by Exterion Media.
Pictured: Councillor Deirdre Hargey with Patrick Fisher, from Urban Innovation Company