Can V-Poles Replace Urban Clutter?

Vancouver will attempt to address urban clutter with innovative multifunctional utility poles that house Wi-Fi and telecom services, as well as other amenities, designed by none other than famed novelist Douglas Coupland.

June 5, 2012, 5:00 AM PDT

By JoeBatch


For many cities, streetscapes have developed into nothing short of obstacle courses for pedestrians. They are often thoughtlessly littered with amenities like parking meters, street lights, telephone poles, and cell towers.

One city--Vancouver, British Columbia--will soon attempt to de-clutter its sidewalks when it introduces the V-Pole (V for Vancouver). V-Poles are LED street lights that will house Wi-Fi and telecom services, link to charging stations for electric cars, and serve as parking payment stations.

With Vancouver's downtown inundated with a "forest" of cell towers from five major mobile carriers, novelist and visual artist Douglas Coupland saw an opportunity to change that. He worked with with Bell Labs and telecommunications giant Alcatel-Lucent to scale down telecom services into the more aesthetically pleasing V-pole.

With a need for new LED street lights and parking kiosks, Vancouver officials saw an opportunity to capitalize on the V-Pole. Add Wi-Fi and you have the Swiss Army Knife of utility poles.

What is more, the V-Pole is open source, so any city can develop a version of its own, incorporating services and technology deemed appropriate. The V-Pole's versatility and open source availability, and the increasing ubiquity of smartphones makes it a safe bet that other cities will follow Vancouver's lead by installing V-Poles of their own.

Who knows? Perhaps some day urban clutter will be a thing of the past

Thanks to Joe Batcheller

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 in National Post

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