Digital Kiosks Bring Connectivity, Communications, and Security to Dense Urban Areas

CityBeacon kiosks use Intel® IoT capabilities to bridge the digital and physical worlds, giving citizens interactive access to a host of dynamic community information and enabling city leaders to create safer public spaces.

 

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Image credits: CityBeacon

Urban living is on the rise. Today, more than half of the world population lives in cities, and by 2050, that’s expected to climb to 68 percent, according to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. That kind of growth taxes critical city services such as transportation, security, air quality, and connectivity. As a result, urban planners are seeking transformative solutions to improve public safety, provide dynamic information, and optimize efficiency in increasingly dense areas.

One such solution has emerged from CityBeacon, a technology company with offices in Ridderkerk, the Netherlands, and Menlo Park, CA. The company has developed telco-grade block and tower kiosks, which are embedded with a host of customizable IoT technologies that facilitate community interaction and communications in addition to surveillance and safety.

Intelligent Engagement

Each kiosk can provide up-to-date city information, including maps, local shops, restaurants, public events, tourist attractions, public transportation information and timetables, and emergency information. The beacons feature 55-inch screens that can broadcast targeted digital advertisements and public service announcements. 

People use 32-inch touch screens to navigate information, and they can download an app on their phones to take the information with them. Your phone or electric car or scooter needs a charge? Not to worry, the kiosks have ports for that, too.

In addition to citizen-friendly features, each CityBeacon kiosk also is outfitted with cameras and IoT sensors that monitor urban activities, pedestrian population, air quality, and carbon dioxide levels. Smart lighting in the camera adjusts to current lighting conditions to save energy. Built-in microphones work with the cameras to enable VoIP communication with emergency services. The units offer free Gigabit WiFi and support 4G and 5G, so visitors 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. The open platform incorporates NFC, RFID, and Bluetooth-based payment and mobile hand-off technologies.

The intelligent infrastructure supports network densification, location sharing and neutral host solutions. The kiosks can be linked to other intelligent hubs or connected infrastructure, such as light poles. A contextually aware content management helps broadcast signage or targeted messaging to the appropriate hubs. Cities can choose from an array of market-ready applications or develop their own using SDKs.

Successful Community Interaction

One of the first CityBeacon projects is underway and still expanding in the Dutch city of Eindhoven, the fifth largest city in the Netherlands with a population of 200,000. The project now includes 30 CityBeacon kiosks, which now handle upwards of 165,000 inquiries each month from more than 16,500 people.

Running the Windows 10 IoT operating system, the Eindoven CityBeacons are powered by Intel® processors. These kiosks crunch data for analytics purposes through the Microsoft Azure cloud platform. An SDK allows local and city developers to create customized apps for this project.

A Gateway to the Community

CIVIQ Smartscapes is another company changing the urban experience. The Milford, MA-based tech company, striving to go beyond the capabilities of a smartphone, developed the WayPointX kiosk to strengthen the city’s economy, improve public safety and security, support social inclusion and provide interactive technology solutions.

The WayPointX provides timely information via quick interactions—two or three clicks—and can hand off that information to a user’s smartphone. One of the benefits is that users can explore local points of interest, rather than having to know what they are searching for, as is the case with a smartphone.

Powered by Intel® Core™ processors, the WayPointX solution features interactive touch screens and network interfaces. It supports small cell, 5G, and Wi-Fi devices, and third-party IoT sensors and security. To date, more than 3,000 units are deployed across the globe.

With the rise of urban living and the increasing reliance on digital technologies, cities that incorporate digital beacons will be well positioned to improve livability by transforming community engagement, enhance public safety, and foster economic development.