Author: Milos Milisavljevic, CEO of Strawberry energy
If there was an app giving you real time data about the most crowded shops to avoid or the longest check-out lines during the Christmas shopping fever, you’d welcome that, wouldn’t you? It would require a comprehensively vast digital network of IoT devices, people counters, interconnected shopping malls, a massive amount of data processed in real time. Of course, it doesn’t exist. At least not yet. Furnishing cities with smart technology, building IoT infrastructure and sustainable solutions is slowly becoming the big talking point, a task on every local government’s agenda.
When you dedicate yourself to furnishing your home every detail matters. You start from picking out the comfortable, nicely looking pieces that fulfill your standards of functionality and esthetics. And when you’re done, you call it home. In the recent decade our homes have become increasingly smarter with gadgets helping us or entertaining us every step of the way.
It is no surprise that the need for embedding technology in our public spaces has also become a prerequisite for being comfortable and efficient while running errands out and about the town.
Just like our home, we all want our cities to follow the development, to upgrade and start adapting to our life already submerged in technology so deep that it is an integral part of who we are today as civilisation. But what does it take to furnish a city, to equip it with smart solutions that would not only make our life easier, but also reduce costs, be easy on the local budget and not harm the environment? Is it possible?
In order to talk about the smart city furniture, let’s start with the obvious. What is street furniture to begin with? It includes benches, traffic barriers, bollards, post boxes, streetlamps, traffic lights, traffic signs, bus stops, tram stops, taxi stands, public lavatories, fountains, public sculptures, and waste receptacles. When we want to make all that street furniture “smart” we actually want for it to be more functional, to make our life easier without the cost to the environment.
Smart waste management doesn’t waste time
A decade ago, garbage trucks and sanitation workers would go around at precisely scheduled times, every day, to empty the bins around town so they’d be clean and ready for the new busy day. Of course, a bin in a park near a popular picnic spot or at a busy street is much more likely to be full by the afternoon. Sometimes overflowing with trash by the mid-day. Wouldn’t it be nice if somehow sanitation services would be able to know exactly which bin needs attention and when so that they could plan the collecting routes more efficiently?
Today, smart bins are connected to WiFi and equipped with fill-level sensors that track the situation in real time and send data that the bin needs to be taken care of. Majority of smart bins can be found in France, Germany and the UK, but also in various USA cities and Canada. It’s not a surprise that smart waste management ideas that are sustainable, reasonably priced and efficient in the long term are in high demand.
Next stop: Smart city
Waiting for the bus is a dramatically different experience than 15 years ago when there were no smartphones (as we know them today) or mobile Internet to pass the time. In recent years smart city development has offered us another WiFI connected convenience and experience: a smart bus stop. While you wait for the bus you can check the real time traffic data, pay your bills, top up your phone credit, check pollen and noise levels and in case of emergency there are emergency call boxes, defibrillators and fire extinguishers. Singapore’s smart bus stop network offers free WiFi, phone chargers and in some cases even bookshelves where people can read and swap for the books they have already read. Barselona’s smart bus stops offer detailed tourist info and maps and free WiFi so in a way, every smart bus stop is essentially a tourist info desk.
Stuck in traffic? Not if you’re smart!
Copenhagen municipal government claims that 25,000 tons of CO2 will be reduced by 2025 compared to 2011 levels. How do they plan to carry out that task? Through the city’s ITS (Intelligent Transport System) program. Controllers built in existing traffic lights on busy intersections will control the traffic in real time by favouring cyclists and public transportation. According to globalexplorer.com “Overall, the travel time of cyclists will be reduced by 10% and travel time for buses is expected to decrease by up to 20%… ITS will help Copenhagen achieve its vision to have 75% of all trips in the city be by bike, by public transport, or on foot by 2025.” Benefits for the environment that this measure would bring are quite substantial and if successful, will once again put Copenhagen on the list of one of the most successful cities when it comes to implementing smart technologies to elevate the quality of living.
Smart bench — The new benchmark for smart cities
In 2011, a small startup Strawberry Energy wanted to find new ways to reimagine the city furniture by adding solar panels and phone charging ports powered by solar energy to their project — Strawberry tree. It was a success because it recognized the growing need for connectivity and addressing the environmental issues. In 2015 the first smart bench was installed in London followed by the network of smart benches in 2016 and the presence in more than 25 cities in Europe.
Smart bench has reinvented the “bench time” as we know it. We still sit on a bench to relax, meet up, take a break or eat take out lunch. But as we do it, we also browse the internet using the free and fast WiFi, charge the phone or check the environmental data for the area.
Advertisers gained a new territory to expand their influence and reach the audience. Branded smart bench also offers a branded landing page that pops up when people connect to free WiFi on the bench, allowing an advertiser to display a more personal and customized message for the desired audience depending on the time, weather conditions or current events. The smart bench measures engagement, number of chargings and visitor count, representing a valuable insight into consumer behavior, and above all, promotes the advertiser’s CSR efforts and positions the company as an environmentally aware and proactive.
At the end of year 2020 we already have smart waste bins, smart benches, smart bus stops and smart traffic lights. What the future holds for us and our cities? As it is expected that the AI propels into our life more prominently, no one can reliably predict what impact it will have on urban infrastructure, community engagement and digital transformation. What we can say for sure is that street furniture will definitely become smarter, even cooler and more sustainable.
Do something smart for your city! We’re here to answer any questions! Let’s talk! Contact us at email@example.com .
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.
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 (www.smartbench.london) 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.
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.”
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.
Are you interested in running a successful campaign? We’re here to answer any questions! Let’s talk! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Author: Bojana Borković, Business Development Executive at Strawberry energy
Smart and digital technologies have changed our lives so drastically in the last decade that practically, there is not an industry, field of work or creative process that doesn’t require some sort of digitalization and tech application. Architects and engineers are especially motivated to apply smart technologies, not only in order to optimize the results and improve the efficiency, but to keep up with tech trends and answer to the development of future cities and people’s lives, now completely immersed in tech.
In order to create a smart, digitized, but above all — human future cities, and deliver the real value for the communities, where the experience and quality of life of the smart tech users are a priority, we’ve assembled some guidelines that professionals from the industry might want to pay attention to and apply in their future projects.
The four key points smart furniture in public spaces should focus on are: tourism, community, disabled people and family.
Fulfilling these four points makes smart city furniture overall beneficial for the quality of life in the public spaces.
Smart Bench has already proven to be a popular and efficient project that impacts all four domains of smart furniture public realm. Apart from being a popular meeting point and complementing the city’s outdoors by appealing design, here are some important benefits that Smart Bench provides:
1. Tourism — a fast and free WiFi hotspot, essential for tourists when they want to access important information on their location, plan routes, check maps, send messages to friends and family and post to social media.
Having a smart bench in the public spaces also means never having to worry about your phone battery running out while you’re out having fun. Smart Bench offers charging cords plus wireless charging ports to suit all types of smartphones. By offering this kind of high level of connectivity, Smart Bench allows a more valuable outdoor experience for all tourists and members of the community.
2. Community — Benches in public spaces have always represented a beloved point of social interactions for young and old, but also a piece of oasis in an urban landscape. As our lives become more tech — dependent and digitized, Smart Bench needs to fulfill the social aspect and utility of the old fashion bench, but also to support the modern-day thirst for technology, smart design and sustainability. Our Smart Bench encompasses all of these properties, providing a great asset for any playground or communal area where people from the community, families can interact, take a break and enjoy the surroundings.
From the social participation point, Smart Bench represents a valuable means for the local governments to obtain information and data that may help the decision-making process when it comes to introducing bills and measures important for the quality of life of the community. The data obtained from the Smart Bench can give a better insight on foot traffic at that location, number of chargings speaks of the mobile usage and technological needs of the people frequenting that particular location etc.
3. Accessibility to disabled — It is important to emphasize the accessibility of Smart Bench to disabled persons. It is designed to be easily accessible to all people with disabilities and provide a safe and valuable experience for equal opportunities across the whole society. WiFi connection allows integration in the City IoT platform or integration in the city’s emergency control center. These possibilities are key to creating safer, more efficient smart cities and could enhance the quality of life immensely in the future, if applied throughout the urban zones.
4. Family: What every parent wants is a safe environment for their children to play, grow and learn. Smart Bench is a great asset to any playground and neighborhood. Smart Bench offers an opportunity for children to learn about renewable sources of energy, to practice responsible and sustainable behaviour and check the weather data, air quality together with their parents. Parents can charge their phones while watching the kids play, but also provide a valuable learning lesson. After they charge their phone and connect to the free WiFi network, they can talk to their youngsters about green energy and explain how our phones can be charged using nothing but solar energy. We would like to set the younger generations onto the path of preserving nature and sustainable energy resources because that is the right way to prepare them for the future where these topics will be substantial points of economic growth and overall well being of the city dwellers. Smart Bench has 0 carbon footprint and is solar-powered, allowing the members of the community to enjoy the connectivity and benefits of energy in a sustainable and responsible way.
As we head into the second decade of the 21st century, it becomes even more important that the technological progress and life improvements that come with it, stay complementary with the social and personal needs of every member of the community, families, elderly citizens and disabled. To provide a more modern but at the same time, efficient and equal opportunities benefits in the realm of smart IoT experience.
We’re here to answer any questions! Contact us at email@example.com .
Don’t move out of the city yet! Things are changing!
Can you give a quick YES or NO, answer to this question:
Do you think that big cities like Los Angeles, Paris, Sao Paolo or Hong Kong, will still be the places where people would want to start a family 50 years from now?
If your answer is NO, then what would it take for them to become more livable, to take care of everybody’s needs?
Free public transport? Complete transition to renewable sources of energy? A U-turn in traffic and overall infrastructure development?
There is really only one correct answer: They need to become SMART CITIES.
Here are top 5 ways smart cities can enhance the quality of people’s lives:
1. Smart cities are data-driven — traffic data, weather conditions, transportation routes, congestions, all data is processed in a centralized city system and citizens are informed of the best options to avoid delays or problems during their daily commutes and routines.
2. Smart cities are people centered. They include real people’s habits and mobility in decision making. This helps city planners in creating the best possible solutions to reduce crowds, prevent high energy consumptions and plan more green spaces where necessary. Traffic jams, garbage disposal, city parking, are all better monitored if smart city technology is implemented, and it can ultimately help citizens manage their routines and tasks in the most efficient way.
3. Smart cities are sustainable — They encourage and explore options for sourcing renewable energy and lowering carbon footprint in urban areas: energy-efficient buildings, air quality and noise level sensors, electric vehicles, they are all part of the city wide solutions for sustainable development.
4. Smart cities are safer — IoT and other smart city technologies can help first responders in getting critical information on an incident faster and with more reliability. Smart street furniture like Smart Benches, smart bus stops, can be connected to emergency services network and provide an easily accessible S.O.S. call. Possibilities are endless and there are many ways in which smart city technology like IoT can increase residents’ safety.
5. Authorities get faster and better feedback from citizens — Well connected and informed citizens are more likely to be involved in current city issues, to engage in the local community and report problems. When city authorities provide apps and smart IoT systems that enable faster and easier feedback, more citizens are inclined to report the local problems and engage, which leads to better insights in real and pressing problems of the people living in certain area.
We see smart urban street furniture as an integral part of smart city development. Our solar Smart Bench networks already help local governments and companies in more than 23 cities to make better decisions about public places, promote their brands and deliver important info in a sustainable and interesting way.
We have a very developed and vibrant partnership network, contact us if you are considering expanding your portfolio!
To improve your company’s CSR, have a look at our most popular street solar furniture and contact us to get a specially tailored, affordable offer!
We’re here to answer any questions! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
|Wolt’s innovative way to reach customers in Belgrade
The beginning of 2021 marked a new chapter in our commercial partnerships.
The worldwide leading food delivery company Wolt, decided to take their commitment to sustainability and smart technology to the next level!
Wolt chose our Smart Benches to further promote eco-awareness, drive innovation for its brand, educate the citizens about renewable energy and animate its consumers in a more meaningful way.
For this project, Wolt opted for the classic Smart Bench design that offers a lot of branding surface. They have many plans for a customizable landing page that opens when users connect to the WiFi — special promo codes, discounts on a wide range of their services. This is a great way to attract potential customers, connect with them “on the go” and introduce new offers in an organic way, through a memorable experience.
Wolt is a company with a great track record when it comes to sustainability. Their delivery workers use bikes instead of cars or mopeds, and new Smart Benches will surely be beneficial to them. When their phones run out of battery (which happens a lot), Smart Benches at several locations in the city center guarantee fast charging slots, reliable WiFi connection and of course, a nice place to take a break.
We are going through the times when due to pandemic, advertising and CSR budgets are substantially cut in order to preserve human resources and secure production or the smooth run of the company’s core business. Investing in a long term solution that delivers a blend of OOH and digital advertising seems like a smart option.
Upgrade customer’s experience!
We’re here to answer any questions! Contact us at email@example.com .
|Digital Transformation and opportunities for growth
Spring is finally here, and unlike in the spring of 2020, the global situation looks a bit more optimistic. It seems that we have learned to live with the uncertainty of covid-19, post covid health crises and finally decided that life needs to move on.
We already know the impact that pandemic has had on some major industries, but what is the data on the behaviour of the general population, their habits and newly acquired lifestyles during COVID-19?
When it comes to smart street furniture market, we have some good news:
Continuous lockdowns and limited movement have made people appreciate the parks and open public spaces again!
According to Google’s COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports the world has seen a huge increase in popularity of Open Spaces like plazas, public gardens, parks, and squares in 2020, compared to the average attendance at these outdoor spaces before the pandemic. The newly collected data span from November 2020 to the end of March 2021 and show a similar trend:
It is clear that with more sunny days, people are starting to flock to open spaces at higher rates.
What does it mean for companies, brands, small businesses and local city governments, in terms of answering the needs of their customers and citizens?
Basically, the data say that local governments should level up the open public spaces ASAP and prepare them for the influx of people eager to spend more time in the fresh air and recuperate from the toll that being confined at homes have had on their mental and overall health.
Brands, local businesses and companies in general, have relied heavily on social media and online marketing especially during the first several months of the pandemic in order to reach their customers.
This new data should be read as a memo to their marketing departments:
Your consumers went outside! Is your brand going to follow?
When it comes to trends on the real estate market, and proptech, the general opinion is that the real blow that pandemic has dealt is yet to be determined, but we know already that it is a heavy one.
According to experts on the topic of proptech and real estate quoted in the Forbes article “… as a society, we will have to adapt to new forms of daily life and business and we will see more rapid adoption of many technologies…
“…Covid-19 has accelerated a lot of the changes within the real estate world that were happening anyway; the digital genie is now completely out of the bottle…”.
Among the other lessons that pandemic has taught us, the important memo for property developers in 2021 is:
Mind the exteriors of your real estate!
Provide connectivity and implement sustainable, easy-maintenance solutions in order to lower the need for additional manpower.
It’s what future residents and leaseholders would want to see.
We can proudly say that our solar Smart Bench checks all the boxes in your 2021 open spaces innovation book. Here are some of the features that stand out and substantially elevate any open public space:
☑ Smart Bench is sustainable: solar energy generates power
☑ Free WiFi for everyone in the vicinity of the bench
☑ 2 Wireless phone charging points and 2 slots for cable charging
☑ Branding surface for brand’s logo or city flag
Pandemic is changing the ways people interact, do about their daily business and relax. We designed a product that answers all the needs of contemporary city dwellers, like connectivity, power and information, in a sustainable way. Smart Bench is unique, modern and universally loved!
It is a chance for companies and brands to associate themselves with a beneficial, sustainable and innovative product and open a new promotional channel in the uncertain times.
It is a chance for local governments to show they care for the environment, for the safety and comfort of their constituents and make the public spaces more adapted to citizens’ needs.
We believe that Smart Bench is a good starting point.
There are 4 different Smart Bench designs and they are all super easy to install and maintain!
We’re here to answer any questions! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .