NYC’s Bigbelly Trash and Recycling Bins Double as Wi-Fi Hotspots

July 13, 2015

We’ve all been that person who puts their Starbucks cup on top of an already heaping and overflowing garbage can, especially since it seems more often than not that this is the state of our city’s waste bins. But if you’ve looked for a trash receptacle downtown recently, you might have been pleasantly surprised with the Bigbelly. These solar-powered “smart” trash and recycling bins are “equipped with a chip that detects when the bin is full or too smelly, allowing trash collectors to make a pick-up where they’re needed most,” according to CityLab. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Bigbellies can double as Wi-Fi hotspots, providing enough bandwidth to power a small business.

To date, more than 170 Bigbellies have been installed in lower Manhattan as a collaboration with the Downtown Alliance. The neighborhood group has been active with new technology, implementing a photo kiosk last December that allows people to take selfies with One World Trade Center. Their newest venture began last winter when they put Wi-Fi units inside two of the trash bins. “They tested the bins for a few hours a day, measuring the quality of the signal and the number of people who could connect to the network,” reports CityLab. And what they found was quite promising; since the bins are on street level, the signals didn’t receive any interference from neighboring tall towers, and the bandwidth came in at at 50 to 75 megabits per second. In addition to providing this modern convenience to New Yorkers, the bins will supply crucial waste management data to government agencies, as well as display alerts and local announcements. More pilot tests are expected throughout the year, as is expansion of the Bigbelly technology.

We should note that this is not the only project looking to bring Wi-Fi to the streets of New York. Late last year, the city unveiled its “pay phone of the future,” LinkNYC, which includes free 24-hour Wi-Fi, free domestic calls, charging stations, and touch screens with access to city services and directions.

[Via CityLab]

Image via Bigbelly


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