A NETWORK of Pulse Smart Hubs has gone live in Belfast – with a helping hand from the Lord Mayor
The Northern Ireland capital is the first place in the UK to benefit from Pulse Smart Hubs.
Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Deirdre Hargey joined tech entrepreneur Patrick Fisher, founder and CEO of Urban Innovation Company, to officially launch the network of “smart street furniture” in the City.
The £3M project, funded entirely by Fisher’s company which designs and builds next generation telecommunication hubs, will help people stay connected – and even save lives.
Belfast City Council have granted permission for 25 of the beautifully designed and technologically advanced smart hubs so far – with planning applications pending to make a network of 30 Pulse Smart Hubs throughout the City.
Cllr Hargey and Fisher this morning launched the first of the intelligent kiosks in Howard Street, with 15 of the 25 hubs now live. The other 10 will be installed and switched on over coming weeks.
Thanks to Pulse Smart Hubs, residents and visitors will benefit from a raft of free useful services, including:
* a defibrillator allowing anyone, even without training, to save a life
* sensors that capture crucial data on air quality made available to City stakeholders to be used for clean air initiatives
* a police override function for public messaging on the main screen, in case of an emergency
* public messaging to promote the City, local services, and events in collaboration with Belfast City Centre management and Visit Belfast
* a 999 button that connects directly to the police, fire, and medical services in case of an emergency, or if someone feels intimidated or vulnerable
* a free-to-use touchscreen interface to access local maps, services, facilities, and visitor information provided in collaboration with Visit Belfast
* free public WiFi so people can enjoy connectivity around Belfast City Centre
* free local and national calls, plus mobile phone charging, and scope for mobile data offloading.
Strategically positioned throughout Belfast City Centre, the smart hubs will provide a range of core public benefits to today’s digitally-led society.
The project will support the City’s Smart Belfast initiative, which brings together universities, businesses, local government, and citizens to collaborate, innovate, and experiment using cutting-edge technologies and data science.
Patrick Fisher, Founder and CEO of London-based Urban Innovation Company, 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 maximized 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. A network of beautifully designed and engineered hubs that provide next generation connectivity, share information, track the environment, and ultimately, save lives.”
Pictured: Councillor Deirdre Hargey Lord Mayor of Belfast, with Patrick Fisher, Founder and CEO, Urban Innovation Company
Councillor Deirdre Hargey, Lord Mayor of Belfast welcomed the launch of the Pulse Smart Hubs, adding:
“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,” she said.
“This initiative supports our Smart Belfast framework which harnesses innovation, technology and data science to build on the city’s growing strengths in the digital sector, and, unveil great products for the future.”
The implementation and ongoing maintenance of the “smart street furniture” will be funded via digital advertising – operated in Belfast by Exterion Media – helping local authorities UK-wide, beginning with Belfast, to provide a state-of-the-art public service at no cost to the public purse.
Pulse Smart Hubs represent the 21st Century evolution of the telephone box which was first introduced in 1920s. The hubs are 60% smaller than an existing phone kiosk, creating a modern, uncluttered street scene.
One of the most important benefits of the Pulse Smart Hub is its ability to help save lives. They integrate Public Access Defibrillators (PAD) so if someone experiences an ‘out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest’ (OHSCA) nearby, the likelihood of survival greatly increases from 9% to 59%. The PADs are simple to use without training.
It is fitting that the first Pulse Smart Hub featuring a defibrillator should be installed in Belfast, as the inventor of this life-saving piece of equipment, Professor James Francis Pantridge, known worldwide as the “Father of Emergency Medicine” began his medical career at Belfast’s very own Queen’s University.
Air quality is the biggest environmental cause of premature death in Europe, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is responsible for 40,000 deaths per year in the UK, say the Royal College of Physicians. Thanks to its ability to collect air quality data and monitor pollution levels, the Pulse Smart Hub will help Belfast City Council to keep a close eye on this important health concern.
Extensive engagement was undertaken with Belfast City Council and other local stakeholders. This has included discussions as to how the data and power provided by the smart hubs could be used by the City Council, universities, and local businesses to gather research and information that will contribute to improving life in Belfast City Centre.
“The benefits that the Pulse Smart Hub network brings to the City today is only the start. Our future plans include continued enhancement of next generation communications for the City.
“We are developing new applications for the hubs, new IoT devices, and looking for effective uses of the data we collect.
“To this end, we are partnering with Smart Belfast to provide a competition to win £20,000 for the best new tech idea designed for the hubs that tackle City challenges.
“We are proud to be able to deliver such a positive social impact through the latest technology at no cost to the user or taxpayer.”
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