NYC Trashcans to Become Wi-Fi Hotspots

posted: 07/17/15
by: Glenn McDonald for Discovery News
NYC trashcan hotspot

Consider the humble trash can. Stalwart and immobile, it populates our cities by the thousands, doing a job no one else wants to do. In the class system of municipal infrastructure, trash cans are the peasants -- abused and ridiculed by haughty mailboxes and streetlamps.

We don't know this for sure -- anthropological studies of insentient communities are notoriously underfunded. But in any case, trash cans in New York City are finally starting to get a little respect.

Late last year, hi-tech waste management company Bigbelly upgraded two of its waste recycling stations in downtown Manhattan with wireless Internet hubs. Bigbelly's streetside trash and recycling bins are already pretty smart -- they use solar power to compact certain materials and have embedded sensors that communicate with the city's waste management fleet.

The wireless Internet option essentially turns the trash cans into free public Wi-Fi hotspots, providing throughput of 50 to 75 MB per second. Being down at ground level and in the open, the Wi-Fi trash cans provide a strong signal that's not blocked by buildings or other structures.

Bigbelly is now working with the city to add Wi-Fi to hundreds more waste stations throughout the city's five boroughs, with a particular concentration in underserved neighborhoods. If the plan gets approval, the new units will be deployed sometime this fall. The bins will pay for themselves, eventually, with display advertising.

The smart trash cans will join another citywide initiative -- to turn all those old abandoned public pay phones into charging stations and Wi-Fi hot spots. More than 10,000 refurbished pay phone kiosks are set to go live by the end of the year.

And so we witness the glorious rebirth of trash cans and discarded analog technology. Science marches on.

This post originally appeared on Discovery News

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