Smart benches to provide free wifi, phone charging to community

Smart Bench Atherton cropped

People on the go will now be able to charge their device or connect to free Wi-Fi at one of three new smart benches.

These benches are the first of their kind in inner city Melbourne, and are powered by 100% renewable solar energy.

Eco Renewable Energy (ERE), our partnering company, is providing and maintaining the benches at no cost to Yarra.

The Smart Benches will further enhance Yarra’s public spaces, providing free Wi-Fi and phone charging to anyone who connects.

“By providing these benches, we are offering all residents online access to critical information, products and services – particularly those who may not otherwise have access,” said Yarra Mayor, Cr Gabrielle de Vietri.

Built-in environmental sensors collect and share real-time data about air quality, temperature, humidity, air pressure and noise levels. Users can see this information, and more on the smart benches, on a dashboard on ERE’s website.

“This information may be able to be used to inform important planning decisions, particularly any that relate to action against the climate emergency,” Cr de Vietri said.

Each of Yarra’s three wards will have a smart bench installed. The Smart Bench locations are:

  • Nicholls Ward: Atherton Gardens oval, Napier Street, Fitzroy
  • Langridge Ward: Curtain Square park, Carlton North
  • Melba Ward: Stewart Street, Richmond, opposite Corner Hotel.

“Intelligent urban furniture is becoming an essential part of city infrastructure, as we think ‘smart’ about the design and activation of public spaces,” said ERE Director Dean Atrash.

The benches will be offered on a pilot basis of around six months. After this, Yarra and ERE will look at usage data and to determine the next steps.

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