Digital transformation of our streets

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THE city of the future could be greener and feature futuristic tech hubs where automated cars use streetlights to recharge and mobile phones can plug into street benches.

This is the vision of 2037 the ​Australian​ ​Institute​ ​of​ ​Landscape​ ​Architects​ (AILA) has come up with and is sharing as part of its installation The Future Street project.

The installation, currently on display in Sydney, shows off some of the most cutting-edge technology that has the potential to transform out streetscapes.

It’s designed to showcase innovative ideas ​to​ ​make​ ​our​ ​cities, suburbs​ ​and​ ​towns​ ​more​ ​liveable, productive​ ​and​ ​sustainable.

Here are some of the highlights.

POWERED STREET BENCHES

Imagine going for a walk and then taking a break at a park bench, using it to charge your mobile or to plug in your laptop and work alfresco.

Street Furniture Australia is showing off its park bench prototype that has electricity and USB outlets so people can charge their devices on-the-go.

Industrial design engineer Shreyasi Mukerji said they hoped to launch the product next year.

“You’ve got a surface to work on if you’re using a laptop and we wanted it to have a couch feel rather than a bench feel.”

DRIVERLESS SHUTTLE BUS

The EZ10 driverless electric shuttle is already operating in Darwin and can transport up to 12 people (six seated and six standing).

It has no steering wheel and technically there is no front or back. The vehicle can travel up to 40km/h and is programmed to follow a specific route.

EasyMile sales manager Alexandre Pequignot told news.com.au that it operated on open roads in Darwin taking people from a carpark and transporting them to an area with restaurants and cafes.

He described the vehicle as a “first and last mile” form of transportation and had potential to take people to and from transport hubs.

“If the train station is too far way (to walk) people tend to drive instead and they tend to drive all the way to the office, which causes congestion and demand for parking,” he said.

“It’s a shared and smart mobility solution.”

CHARGE YOUR CAR USING A STREET LAMP

ENE Hub lights are already popping up around Sydney and can feature a huge shopping list of features. They can be modified to act as charging stations for electric vehicles, can have power outlets, an emergency help button, USB chargers, traffic lights, banners, speakers for music or announcements, Wi-Fi, 4G/5G, CCTV, coloured lights and even hanging flower baskets.

PUTTING PEOPLE AHEAD OF CARS

One of the other features of the installation is envisioning how our landscape could look if it was designed for people in mind, not cars.

“A​ ​good​ ​street​ ​is​ ​a​ ​place​ ​that​ ​prioritises​ ​people​ ​over​ ​cars​ ​and​ ​this​ ​is​ ​part​ ​of​ ​what​ ​the​ ​Future​ ​Street highlights,” Place​ ​Design​ ​Group​ ​executive​ ​director​ ​Chris​ ​Isles​ ​said.

The Australian​ ​Institute​ ​of​ ​Landscape​ ​Architects has developed three alternative visions: a “green” street, a “complete” street and a “smart” street.

The aim for all three streets is to integrate green interactive spaces with technology and make the streets a destination worth visiting – not just a thoroughfare that people pass through on their way to work or their next appointment.

The Green Street section shows what a landscape could look like if car access was removed, people were prioritised, there was cycling and public transport, and nature was reintroduced.

It’s essentially about healthy living and plenty of soft grass and trees.

The Complete Street illustrates what a street could look like if cities balanced the importance of people and cars, it slows the car down, features vertical gardens and recycled materials. It’s about creating an enjoyable lifestyle.

While the Smart Street section showcases all the technology such as the ENE Hub lights, electric Tesla car, hi-tech park benches as well as rubbish bins that can tell a hub when they’re full.

“This​ ​is​ ​a​ ​glimpse​ ​into​ ​what​ ​our​ ​streets​ ​could​ ​become, ​and​ ​how​ ​we​ ​could​ ​interact​ ​with​ ​our​ ​built environment​ ​in​ ​a​ ​more​ ​productive​ ​way,” AILA​ ​chief executive officer Tim​ ​Arnold said.

Sydneysiders can explore The Future Street installation in front of Customs House at Circular Quay until Sunday, October 15.

Email: charis.chang@news.com.au | Twitter: @charischang2