Thursday, July 7, 2016

Google's WiFi kiosks will keep an eye on our cities

Sidewalk Labs (belonging to Google's Alphabet) is hoping its multimedia WiFi kiosks will become smart nodes for today's smart cities - not only providing free WiFi, but also monitoring the air quality, traffic, and more.

When we talk about smart homes, everyone knows that the first step is to monitor how things are working (be it power or water usage, etc.) That's the only we can accurately measure the effects of the improvements we make - and make sure it's actually an improvement. Smart cities aren't that different, though thing happen at a much larger scale.

Sidewalk Labs WiFi kiosks can do that sort of monitoring, and provide a network of smart sensors that can help a city pinpoint potential problems. These kiosks not only provide free WiFi and can charge your smartphone, they can also measure air quality, sound levels, and even measure traffic as pedestrians walk by (Google says this is completely anonymous data, not to raise privacy concerns). The kiosks even have cameras that can even detect suspicious abandoned packages - which might also be a nice feature for security concerned cities,

Last but not least, Google also has good news when the time comes to pay the bill. If cities allow these kiosks to act as outdoor displays for ads, they'll even make money out of it - making the deal even more attractive. So, don't be surprised if you see these kiosks pop up nearly everywhere in the not so distant future...

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