The world’s first network of smart benches in London

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Strawberry Energy and MKTG rolled out 10 smart benches in London with the charity of 2017

Smart city business Strawberry Energy UK has joined forces with London boroughs of Lewisham and Islington and Cancer Research UK to launch a network of Smart Benches (#SmartBenchUK) with contactless technology in time for World Cancer Day on 4th February. The solar-powered benches enhance public spaces by providing mobile device charging ports and free Wi-Fi access, as well as a place to sit and socialise.

In the world’s first use of contactless payment on the Smart Bench, the public can also donate £2 to the charity’s life-saving research to beat cancer sooner, by simply tapping their contactless debit or credit card on the Smart Bench, popping up across London.

The world’s first use of contactless payment on the Smart Bench

Strawberry Energy has been working exclusively with Urban Partnerships, a division of MKTG which delivers projects within the public space that are mutually beneficial for both brands and non-profit organisations.

Cancer Research UK is the first brand to partner on the Smart Bench scheme, a network of benches across two London boroughs (Islington and Lewisham). The sites were identified as high-footfall locations by MKTG, using their strategic insight tools and location planning expertise.

This pilot of 10 Smart Benches has been installed on 31 January with full support from both boroughs, and feature a number of contactless payment locations including Islington Green and Lewisham High Street. Following the pilot, a further 10 will be installed by the end of February.

Sensors built into the smart benches monitor real-time environmental data including air quality, which users can check via the Strawberry Energy smartphone app, providing a valuable lifestyle tool for the community and feeding important data to local boroughs. This is especially relevant in support of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s aim to improve the capital’s air quality. Strawberry Energy ( has taken on production and installation of the first benches, without cost to taxpayers, as part of the company’s commitment to London as a smart city.

Miloš Milisavljević, founder and CEO of Strawberry Energy, developers and owners of the Smart Bench network, said: “We have been working with London boroughs to breathe life into our dream of a network of solar-powered Smart Benches, making energy free for all Londoners. We are proud to launch our network in the lead up to World Cancer Day with a contactless fundraising innovation in aid of Cancer Research UK.

“Our charging stations bring people together, motivate them to spend more time outdoors, and enhance their enjoyment of the environment with information such as pollution sensors.

Islington Cllr Claudia Webbe and Strawberry energy founder and CEO Milos Milisavljevic at the Smart Bench in Islington Green.

Cllr Claudia Webbe, Islington Council’s executive member for environment and transport, said: “We are committed to making Islington a place where everyone can enjoy an excellent quality of life. These pioneering Smart Benches offer the best advances in smart technology and we are very pleased Islington is one of the first places in London to trial Smart Benches, and look forward to seeing how they benefit residents, workers and visitors alike.”

Cllr Damien Egan and Cllr Stella Jeffrey at the Smart Bench near the Lewisham Clock Tower

Councillor Rachel Onikosi, Lewisham Cabinet Member for the Public Realm, said “I’m very pleased that Lewisham is part of the start of this network of smart benches. Finding creative ways to make the most of our public spaces benefits local communities and attracts people to come and see the great things Lewisham has to offer.”

Paul Weaver, digital innovation manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Having used contactless technology in innovative ways in the past to engage the public in the work we do, we are always looking for new opportunities to incorporate contactless technology further throughout the charity and make it even easier for our supporters to help us beat cancer sooner. These Smart Benches seemed like the next step in our use of contactless technology to bring charitable giving closer to our supporters, integrating it seamlessly into cutting-edge street furniture.”

MKTG’s Urban Partnerships identified Cancer Research UK as an ideal first brand partner for Strawberry Energy and their Smart Bench network. The community can enjoy the benefits of the benches and in exchange, Cancer Research UK can maximise awareness and donations through contactless technology in the lead up to World Cancer Day.

Michael Brown, Managing Director, MKTG said: “Research shows the way in which consumers perceive brands has a huge influence on the effectiveness of that brand’s advertising. The Smart Bench network provides an opportunity for brands and local boroughs to create positive, impactful experiences for communities, who benefit from the various smart utilities provided by the network. Partnering with Strawberry Energy, we’re very excited to launch the Smart Bench Network initially with Cancer Research UK, an opportunity that will be open to more brands in the future.”

As well as making donations via these Smart Benches, Cancer Research UK is also urging the nation to wear a Unity Band® on 4 February 2017, World Cancer Day, creating one incredible #ActofUnity that will help beat cancer sooner. Get your Unity Band online for a suggested donation of £2.

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