£3m worth of 'smart' street furniture to be installed in Belfast
More than 20 pieces of "smart" street furniture valued at £3m and equipped with defibrillators are to be installed around Belfast, it's emerged.
The Pulse Smart Hubs, which take their design from the Victorian red phone box, will offer free wi-fi, access to emergency calls, mobile phone charging, touch-screen visitor information, air quality stats, traffic details as well as life-saving defibrillators.
Its creators claim Belfast will be the first city to get the product. The hubs will come with various security measures including facial detection and alarm. Each defibrillator also has built-in GPS.
It's funded by London-based Pulse Smart Hub, Belfast-based telecoms operator Euro Payphone and outdoor advertising company Exterion Media UK.
Pulse Smart Hub chief executive Patrick Fisher 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 maximised and available free to all."
Funding will be supported by digital advertising on the £100,000 hubs.
Mr Fisher said the hubs would be "at no cost to the public or taxpayer".
The project supports the city's 'Smart Belfast' initiative, which brings together universities, businesses, local government, and members of the public to collaborate and experiment using new technologies and data science.
Belfast City Council has granted permission for 21 of the hubs so far. They will be scattered throughout the most central parts of the city including Ann Street, Royal Avenue, Wellington Place and Chichester Street. There is an application pending for a further nine hubs.
The project will begin rolling out across the city from October.
Mr Fisher added that the defibrillators are "simple to use without training" and will potentially save lives.
DUP city councillor Lee Reynolds said the network "involves a significant private investment and will deliver state-of-the-art digital infrastructure throughout the city centre".
"The network will increase connectivity and provide a range of free services to the public, and the fact that each hub will house a public access defibrillator is of huge public benefit," he said.