Wi-Fi Is The New Downtown Loft

For decades now, developers, municipalities and governments have been using adaptive repurposing to transform old buildings and spaces into modern, trendy, useable spaces in attempt to increase the “cool factor” of their city as they struggle to attract business, tourism and the younger generation.

Most notably, the trend of the past decade in cities such as New York, Melbourne and recently Detroit, has been to flip old rundown and un-used warehouses and factories into ultra-trendy museums, loft apartments and office spaces. But as the world continues to digitize, and we speed towards the reality of an ultra-connected age, adaptive repurposing becomes a banality if its products stand in an un-connected city.

In a tech-centric and environmentally conscious world, now is the time for municipalities and governments to be getting “smart”. The ROI for cities with smart systems rooted in city-wide Wi-Fi is huge, offering almost limitless possibilities to drastically improve both environmental and economic factors of liveability.

What environmental benefits can we expect?

When considering the environment, efficiency is no longer a nicety, but a necessity. It is predicted that by 2050 almost three quarters of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. Cities are getting bigger, populations are growing, and in order to keep up with this growth and to prevent disastrous system failures, we need to modernise the systems.

Imagine a city that is self-monitored, with the ability to communicate with a centralized system in real-time, as issues occur. Imagine the road blocks, the man power, the mess, the complaints, and the money that a city could save if they could fix a very minor leak in a major pipe in the sewerage system just hours after the problem arose. Sensor technology alerts the municipality of the precise location and information about the leak, preventing a major system failure and all in real-time. All of this, as the citizens carry on blissfully unaware and unaffected by something that could have had major consequences to them.

Above ground, streetlights are an enormous drain on city budgets, sometimes amounting up to 50% of their entire energy bill. However, communicating LED streetlights can reduce energy consumption per streetlight by a whopping 55%, and can simultaneously provide city-wide Wi-Fi that opens up boundless opportunities for the implementation of smart systems. These are just two examples from an almost infinite list of ways that Wi-Fi infrastructure can modernize a city, drastically improving efficiency while saving large sums of money.

What does the social ROI look like?

The benefits of city-wide Wi-Fi stretch far beyond productivity, efficiency and energy savings. A city with systems working through Wi-Fi infrastructure can utilize the connectivity, and really bring the “cool factor” to life.

We live in a digital and hyper-connective age where everyone has a mobile phone. Mobile is something through which we share everything, and Wi-Fi brings enormous potential for businesses and municipalities alike to utilize this relationship between people, mobile and Wi-Fi in order to turn a space into a vibrant social centre.

We can see the power of Wi-Fi when we look at Detroit’s Campus Martius Park, where 150 tons of sand, some beach umbrellas and a BBQ became the hottest downtown public space to kick back with free connectivity.

Although just an initial trial in Detroit, the potential for monetization is huge for city centres, where local businesses can feed off in-app promotions and purchases, and the local government can engage their citizens with digitized interactions.

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