SFA in The Wall Street Journal

The next generation with PowerMe at Future Street.

See a pdf of the Wall Street Journal article, ‘There Are Park Benches. And Then There Are Smart Park Benches.’

Street Furniture Australia’s new Aria Smart Bench with PowerMe™ Table is featured in The Wall Street Journal as part of an article on the Smart Social Spaces project.

Georges River Council with the University of New South Wales (UNSW) will investigate how data collected by smart furniture and sensors can be used for urban management and the local community.

New furniture including Aria and PowerMe has been installed at two locations in Georges River: a plaza, Memorial Square in Hurstville, and two sites in a suburban green space, Olds Park in Penshurst.

UNSW will collect the data and work with Georges River Council on responsive asset management. Street Furniture Australia is the industry partner for this project.

Wall Street Journal, Street Furniture Australia article-sc

Excerpt from the article, written by Mike Cherney:

SYDNEY—The bench in your local park may soon know that you’re sitting on it.

“Smart” benches are popping up in cities and suburbs around the world. In a Sydney suburb, a town is about to install park benches and tables with sensors that track when and how often residents are using them. Town officials say the data will tell them whether a bench or table isn’t being used, or is broken, thus helping them redesign public spaces and speed up repairs.

The nearly $500,000 trial, funded in part by an Australian government grant, is one of many projects in different countries deploying smart furniture in parks and public spaces. A U.S.-based company, Changing Environments Inc., offers a solar-powered bench that comes with phone chargers and sensors that measure nearby activity. A British company, Strawberry Energy, has installed similar benches around London.

Future cities will use sensors on everything from parking spaces to water meters to “crunch numbers on big items like utility consumption, traffic, public transport, power use,” says Christian Tietz, senior lecturer in industrial design at the University of New South Wales, and co-leader of the Sydney suburb trial. “We don’t want to look at the big stuff. We want to look at microenvironments.”

In the past, to measure how many people use a particular area of a park, officials have typically relied on surveys or dispatched observers—methods that are time-consuming and expensive. In contrast, the sensors will use mobile networks to automatically send data to park managers in real time.

The Sydney suburb’s local government, the Georges River Council, will test two types of sensors supplied by a private company, Street Furniture Australia: One type of sensor will count foot traffic using Wi-Fi to determine how many devices are in the area; the other will measure vibrations on a bench caused when someone sits on it or moves it.

Both methods have their advantages. Counting devices in an area will miss children or anyone else not carrying a smartphone or tablet. But the vibration sensor, affixed under a bench, will register not just if someone sits on it but also if a heavy bag is set down on it. Researchers plan to gather data for six months.

Other items in the trial include internet-connected trash bins, which will signal when they are full and if there is a fire inside, and a bench and table that will include phone-charging and power outlets.

“It’s about making public spaces more enjoyable for people and communities,” says June Lee Boxsell, design and marketing manager at Street Furniture Australia. “You could have an outdoor meeting room where business people come out of their offices and have a chat,” she says.

Kevin Greene, mayor of the municipality, says the local government has a general idea of how many people use its public spaces, but it’s “based on anecdotal evidence rather than good statistical data.” Mr. Greene says he would like to use the technology in other public areas when this trial is complete.

He says the data collected won’t identify individuals, just raw numbers, so residents shouldn’t be concerned about privacy.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s me, you or Billy Bob sitting on the seat,” he says. “There’s no private details involved in this.”

See a pdf of the Wall Street Journal article, ‘There Are Park Benches. And Then There Are Smart Park Benches.’

You can also read an ABC Radio Drive interview transcript between Richard Glover, Georges River Council Mayor Kevin Greene and UNSW’s Dr Nancy Marshall.

Richard-Glover-SSS-radio-sc

Keep up with the news by joining StreetChat, our monthly e-newsletter. Join our Build Aria app competition for your chance to Win a Drone!


make an enquiry

Opening hours are from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.

enquire now

recent news

Making Art: Inside the Vivid Build

Street Furniture Australia has helped two young architects from CM+ with the design and build of colourful, immersive artworks for Sydney’s annual festival of light, music and ideas. The 23-day festival attracted 2.25 million visitors in 2018, with similar numbers expected for 2019. Vivid Light, a series of sound and light installations, comes to life after dark throughout the city. An enveloping snowflake storm, Let It Snow by Jing Li, and an interactive musical tree, Harmony by Rod Tan, opened to acclaim on Friday May 24 and are set to delight audiences till June 15, 2019. Angus Easthope, industrial designer with Street Furniture Australia and project lead for the Vivid build, shares insights into the design and installation of more than 1.5 tonnes of aluminium and steel for the two …

  • 27 may 2019
read more

SFA Achieves Four ISO Certifications

Street Furniture Australia is launching a new Integrated Management System to include ISO certifications in quality, OH&S, sustainability and the environment. The system certified by QAS International is designed to meet the requirements of PAS99:2012 including Quality Management ISO 9001:2015, Environmental Management ISO 14001:2015, and OH&S Management ISO 45001:2018 and AS/NZS 4801:2001. The certification will further strengthen our program of continuous improvement, says Christopher Morgan, Street Furniture Australia Operations Manager, with 24 small audits leading up to the annual audit in 12 months’ time. “It’s not a rubber stamp that’s awarded once, it’s a system you need to continuously upgrade and improve,” he says. The three months of work leading up to the certification has brought the entire team closer, he tells StreetChat. “ISO is a great process as it …

  • 27 may 2019
read more

Trend Watch May 2019

A guide to surveillance in the city: Google sister company Sidewalk Labs has created a system of urban signage that reveals the technologies it is using to track people in public spaces. The signs are intended to be a visual representation of the privacy policies the company is developing to go along with its data collection technology. While the project goes some way to address privacy concerns around data collection, there’s still no way for people to opt out of being tracked in public. The signage is being trialled in Toronto, Canada, but could be taken up in other cities. To find out more about the signage design, purpose and placement, see the article by Fast Company. Controversial designs for new Notre-Dame spire: The redesign of the upper levels of …

  • 27 may 2019
read more

related news

Customers Who Won PLA Awards

Congratulations to Tweed Shire Council and the City of Greater Bendigo, both celebrating wins in their state 2019 Parks and Leisure Australia Awards. Street Furniture Australia is proud to be part of these award-winning projects. Rowan Robinson Park – Park of the Year Tweed Shire Council’s $22-million Kingscliff Foreshore revitalisation links the beach with the new central Rowan Robinson Park, and the CBD. “After years of storms and fears about the economic viability of Kingscliff with the retreating foreshore, confidence is now restored with the completion of the central park,” say the PLA Judges. The park was named in honour of Rowan Robinson, a popular Kingscliff High School student and local Surf Life Saver who lost his life serving in Afghanistan in June 2011. Since opening, the park has become …

  • 3 jun 2019
read more

Making Art: Inside the Vivid Build

Street Furniture Australia has helped two young architects from CM+ with the design and build of colourful, immersive artworks for Sydney’s annual festival of light, music and ideas. The 23-day festival attracted 2.25 million visitors in 2018, with similar numbers expected for 2019. Vivid Light, a series of sound and light installations, comes to life after dark throughout the city. An enveloping snowflake storm, Let It Snow by Jing Li, and an interactive musical tree, Harmony by Rod Tan, opened to acclaim on Friday May 24 and are set to delight audiences till June 15, 2019. Angus Easthope, industrial designer with Street Furniture Australia and project lead for the Vivid build, shares insights into the design and installation of more than 1.5 tonnes of aluminium and steel for the two …

  • 27 may 2019
read more

SFA Achieves Four ISO Certifications

Street Furniture Australia is launching a new Integrated Management System to include ISO certifications in quality, OH&S, sustainability and the environment. The system certified by QAS International is designed to meet the requirements of PAS99:2012 including Quality Management ISO 9001:2015, Environmental Management ISO 14001:2015, and OH&S Management ISO 45001:2018 and AS/NZS 4801:2001. The certification will further strengthen our program of continuous improvement, says Christopher Morgan, Street Furniture Australia Operations Manager, with 24 small audits leading up to the annual audit in 12 months’ time. “It’s not a rubber stamp that’s awarded once, it’s a system you need to continuously upgrade and improve,” he says. The three months of work leading up to the certification has brought the entire team closer, he tells StreetChat. “ISO is a great process as it …

  • 27 may 2019
read more