Trash cans, united in one utilitarian purpose, can be found by the thousands in any city. But what if they were somehow given a new job to do, something beyond simply collecting the waste of humanity? By equipping municipal trash cans with WiFi hotspots, this could soon become a reality.
In New York City, where residents are always on the go and in the moment, these “smart” trash cans are beginning to pop up, bringing free WiFi to the people at the same time.
According to a July 16 Geek.com article, waste management company BigBelly has applied for a grant from the Mayor’s Office which would allow the company to create hundreds of solar-powered smart trash cans.
If the grant is approved, each trash can would offer up to 75Mbps of Internet access — enough data power to support multiple users throughout the day as they pass by. Because they’ll be at ground level and out in the open, users will get the strongest signal possible.
It wouldn’t be the first time New York City has pushed for improved public Internet access. Last year, city officials approved plans to convert its more than 10,000 abandoned payphones into WiFi hotspots and charging stations.
BigBelly plans to place hundreds of its smart trash cans throughout the five boroughs, with a particular focus on under-served neighborhoods. If the city approves its grant applications, the trash cans could arrive as soon as this fall, Discovery News reported.
Eventually, BigBelly intends to place advertisements on these WiFi-equipped trash cans, as well — providing Internet access isn’t free, after all. When more than 95% of Americans reported being reached by outdoor and mobile advertisements on a regular basis, advertising on a heavily-used WiFi hotspot can be a great way to boost brand recognition.
And for the average city-goer, these trash cans will provide a crucial service at a time when more and more people expect to have access to a public WiFi connection wherever they go.