Often people venture outside to get away from their communications devices and get some fresh air, but local governments are keen to ensure people are always connected, no matter what.
That’s what Sydney’s Campbelltown City Council is doing, by trialling a smart bench product in the centre of its central business district, Mawson Park.
The trial is part of the city’s commitment to transform the local government area into a ‘smart, connected city’, and aims to test the feasibility of the new technology, which has proven popular across Europe, and will help set the scope for any possible future installations in public spaces across the city.
During the six-week trial, visitors to Mawson Park will have access to a Steora Smart Bench – a Croatian innovation which is distributed in Australia by Cleanair Energy – providing phone charging and internet connection from a sleek park bench, powered by green solar energy.
Mayor of Campbelltown George Brticevic said the smart bench would allow people to use their devices without running down data and battery life.
“We often hear of the detrimental effect the extensive use of modern devices can have on our health, often keeping kids indoors and adults from spending quality time with their family – this sort of technology could provide the best of both worlds by getting people outside and keeping them connected at the same time,” Mr Brticevic said.
He said the idea behind consideration of the benches was to look at ways to enhance public spaces by providing free Wi-Fi access, complemented by mobile device charging ports, as well as a place to sit and socialise.
The smart bench being trialled is equipped with a wireless charger which enables cable-less charging of newer, wireless charging capable smartphones.
For users of other devices, the bench features two smart USB connectors, enabling quick mobile phone charging. The Wi-Fi hotspot enables wireless connection for up to five devices at any one time.
The temporary installation of the bench will help assess the feasibility and suitability of implementing this type of technology within Campbelltown City, and a report back to Council will consider a range of factors, including usage, cost, durability, functionality and availability of similar products, when recommending any future adoption of smart bench technology.
The smart bench trial ends on 28 July.