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article imageLondon's 'smart street' uses new technologies and data science

By Karen Graham     Jul 17, 2017 in Technology
London - Imagine a world where city sidewalks can generate enough energy to power streetlights, along with additional technologies, like BlueTooth and benches that clean the air. Welcome to London's Bird Street.
Mayor Sadiq Khan's vision for London calls for the city to become the world's leading "smart city." That vision kicked off in Mid-June this year at the launch of London Tech Week. As a part of that plan, the city's first innovative and data-driven "smart street" opened on June 29.
Bird Street, adjacent to Oxford Street in London's West End neighborhood is now a "smart street," according to Live Science. The previously underutilized street has been transformed into a peaceful haven of calm, where visitors can stroll the newly installed interactive street tiles.
READ MORE: What in the world will London's Chief Digital Officer be doing?
The tiles on the street are triggered to collect energy from a person's footsteps, in turn generating power to trigger soundscapes of birds chirping, as well as nighttime lighting displays along the road. Pavegen, a UK tech company installed a 10-square meter (108 square feet) array which will initially power lights and bird sounds, and also provide an energy data feed.
Pavegen transformed a corridor in Heathrow Airport s Terminal 3 into an interactive walkway.
Pavegen transformed a corridor in Heathrow Airport's Terminal 3 into an interactive walkway.
Pavegen has completed 150 smart-floor projects around the world, including train stations, shopping centers, airports, schools and public spaces. Their innovative array comes with three multi-functional component parts. These functionalities are called: data, floor, and energy that will power the data-driven smart cities of tomorrow.
The unique walkway will also incorporate Bluetooth Low-Energy transmitters which will enable it to interact with branded apps – for example rewarding users with discounts, vouchers and education resources for their steps on the Pavegen system. But the varying technologies doesn't stop with just the energy harvesting sidewalk.
London and Copenhagen, Denmark-based Airlabs is a scientific research and design group that has taken on the huge problem of air quality in the world's largest cities. The Airlabs team brings together a variety of disciplines, from atmospheric chemistry to pollution monitoring, from fluid dynamics to environmental health and from economics to engineering and design.
A clean air zone is formed around the bench due to its shape and the positioning of the clean air ou...
A clean air zone is formed around the bench due to its shape and the positioning of the clean air outlets.
Airlab's contribution to London's "smart street" is their "CleanAir Bench." Eight fans inside the bench draw in polluted air, which the bench then processes internally to remove up to 95 percent of nitrogen dioxide — an urban pollutant. The bench then "exhales" clean air for seated users to enjoy, according to a description on the Airlabs website.
Mayor Khan will also appoint the city's first Chief Digital Officer, who will oversee the development of smart city tech, working directly with the Mayor’s Office, the Mayor’s Smart London Board, local authorities and the technology sector to drive the development of smart city technologies.
"From air pollution and climate change to housing and transport, new technologies and data science will be at the heart of the long-term solutions to urban challenges," Khan said.
More about smart street, bird street, digital technology, Bluetooth, atmospheric technology