More than one-half of the world’s population today lives in urban areas, and that number is predicted to swell even further in the next decade. The stress that rising urban populations put on core city services such as transit, connectivity, air quality and public security means that city planners are constantly looking for new, automated ways to manage inner city density and growth.
One new solution that is taking aim on improving the quality of life for bustling cities is CityBeacon. With offices in Belgium, the Netherlands and Menlo Park, CA, the company has developed a platform—a towering kiosk—that it describes as “deepening the engagement between cities, local businesses and its citizens.” The fully equipped technology kiosk bridges the gap between the digital and the physical worlds and uses a set of IoT technologies to facilitate community interaction and communications as well as provide surveillance and safety.
The CityBeacon kiosk contains a diverse set of features and functions, including:
- Video surveillance and security. CityBeacon has an integrated camera, so city officials can monitor public spaces. Smart lighting in the camera can adjust to current day/night lighting conditions to save energy.
- Broadcast local or citywide announcements. The beacon contains speakers and a 55-inch screen that can broadcast public service announcements through individual beacons or in connected groups of beacons. It can also display video or image-based promotions from businesses.
- Emergency services. The beacons have built-in microphones that can work with the camera and enable VoIP communication with emergency services.
- Powered by Intel. The beacons use Intel® processors, including IoT, networking and SSD storage. Intel Xeon® processors allow CityBeacon to provide cloud-based data analytics.
- Environmental and audience analytics. Sensors on the beacon collect data, including air quality readings, UV-levels and audience analytics.
- Connectivity options. Free Gigabit Wi-Fi on the beacons lets the public chat, share and like with a secure connection, while small cell 4G antennas improve mobile network coverage and help offline telco subscriber traffic. This connectivity function is particularly useful for tourists, as they can connect to the Internet in a secured manner and make use of the integrated camera and microphones to make VoIP calls without incurring costly roaming charges.
- Information station. The beacons have 32-inch touch displays that allow people to discover points of interest and entertainment along with local services and products. The information and maps are customizable and configurable with city/district branding. A mobile app can also connect users to CityBeacon data.
- Mobile payments. NFC, RFID and iBeacon/Eddystone enables support for payment technologies. The payment system can be used for local services, including parking and special events.
30 Beacons Power Up in the Netherlands
One of the first CityBeacon projects is now underway in Europe, in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, the fifth largest city in the Netherlands. With a population of 200,000, the municipality is in the process of rolling out a total of 30 CityBeacon kiosks. Launched in October 2016, the smart city project was the culmination of a three-year collaboration between multiple partners including CityBeacon, Eurofiber, Intel, Brocade/Ruckus and the city.
Multiple revenue-generation opportunities are associated with this CityBeacon project, explains Dion Ubert, Strategic Business Development Manager for Intel, in a statement. "Initially, the kiosks are leased to the Eindhoven government for a period of 10 years. Network operators can also have their small cells integrated into the kiosks benefitting footprint, co-location space and offloading onto fiber. Finally, there is the ability to use the digital screens for advertising and information purposes, such as city marketing."
Running the Windows 10 IoT operating system, the Eindoven CityBeacons are powered by 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i5 Processors and Intel® SSDs. These kiosks crunch data for analytics purposes through the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. An SDK allows local and city developers to create specific apps for this project.
Learn more about smart CityBeacons in use in Eindhoven, find out about the product specs and how to partner, or follow the company on Twitter @citybeacons.