Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported on Boston’s Solar Powered Park Benches.
The benches are designed to allow mobile phone charging and also the bench can connect to the internet and transmit a range of environmental and other diagnostic data.
This is just a small trial but highlights the range of innovation taking place across society, and naturally, this flows into the provision of infrastructure services.
As our society uses more and more electronic communication devices, the need for charging and connection stations will grow. The use of public infrastructure to fill some of these needs is a natural response.
So, we can expect to see more innovation in this space.
If we think about infrastructure asset management planning and replacement/renewal then some interesting questions arise:
- Would we replace a standard park bench with one of the solar park benches
- Will it cost more to purchase
- Will it cost more to operate and maintain
- Will additional services need to be installed to support a ‘smart’ bench
- Will vandalism be an issue
- Will the ‘smart’ bench generate revenue, or is it just enhanced service
- What is the replacement cycle – is it the same as standard benches, higher, lower
- If a city was to adopt ‘smart’ benches what would the impact be on annual budgets, and on longer term renewal budgets
The technologies we deploy as a society are changing quite rapidly, and this does inevitably have an impact on the provision of infrastructure, and related services.
When undertaking infrastructure planning it is important to consider these changes, and incorporate the potential impact on your longer-term plans.
PHOTO CREDIT: Frame shot from MAKER CHATS: solar benches in Boston Parks Video