The state of public wi-fi here is, in a word, woeful. Maybe we should take heed of the street light of the future, as currently under consideration by the city of Vancouver.
The V-Pole is not only capable of providing wi-fi and boosting cellphone coverage, it would also provide a charger for electric cars. An LED light covers the illumination aspect, plus it would also incorporate an electronic system to handle parking transactions and even act as a public message board.
Each pole would cover 1.5 city blocks and run off lightRadio, which are small cubes developed by Alcatel-Lucent that shrink a mobile base station antenna into the size of a Rubik's cube (see video below). When stacked atop each other inside the V-Pole, different cubes would cater for a range of frequencies.
The concept belongs to artist andGeneration X author Douglas Coupland, who stumbled across the lightRadio technology while doing research for a book at Bell Labs in New Jersey.
He says the V-Pole will be more energy-efficient and cost-effective than the current generation of utility structures found on city streets, and reduce visual clutter along the streetscape.
"You would never think of building a house or office tower without
electricity – in the same way, you would never think of developing
future cities without V-Poles,” says Coupland.
In the future, he says, people will think of computing merely as a utility, like a plug in the wall. Information will no longer require huge mainframe systems, hard drives or products that come in boxes.
“In three years there will be thirty times more wireless data traffic than there is now,” he says. “Unless we act quickly, our streets could be as cluttered as a kitchen junk drawer. No one wants that.”
One might even go as far as to say the V-Poles could function as markers of individual neighbourhoods, as demonstrated in this chart.