Take a quick (and educational) tea break with us! Customers are invited to join a fast and interactive one-on-one Zoom chat with your local Street Furniture Australia representative to learn about street furniture trends, new products and latest projects. Presentations are guaranteed no longer than 10-minutes plus Q&A. You will receive a T2 gift box of your choice, delivered to your home. The first 50 bookings also have a chance to win a Tokyobike Classic Sport valued at $1100.00.* Book by contacting Nancy on email@example.com, or via the button below. * Winner announced on December 10, 2020 via StreetChat. Presentations must be done by this time. Bicycle will be a Tokyobike Classic Sport or equivalent depending on availability. Winner will select preferred size and colour.
Smart Social Spaces on Radio
ABC Radio Sydney’s Richard Glover chats with Georges River Council Mayor Kevin Greene and Dr Nancy Marshall from UNSW about the Smart Social Spaces project.
The following is a transcript of the program, which aired on April 10, 2018.
RG. A new policy of embedding sensors in everything from barbeques to park benches. Fans say it helps Councils know what’s needed, but how do the public feel?
How often does someone sit on the bench in your local park? How often is the playground equipment used? How often does a family turn up and use the barbeque to have a picnic on a Saturday afternoon? The Georges River Council is working to find out the answer to all those questions with academics from the University of NSW, to place sensors on Council facilities in order to monitor their use. So sit down on the park bench, and a note will be made of how long you linger.
Is that Big Brother? Or is it just a good use of new technology? And how does it work? Kevin Greene is Georges River Council Mayor, and joins us here on Drive, good afternoon.
KG. Good afternoon, Richard.
RG. Tell us how it works and what you hope to achieve through it.
KG. We’ve received some funding through the Smart Cities program, and with the University of NSW, who are providing the technology, we will be able to monitor how things are being used in the public domain, so that’s parks, plazas, all those areas. So we can efficiently monitor their use, but more importantly their non-use.
So, to give an example, if a seat’s not being used is it because it’s broken? Is it because the pigeons have been sitting there and it needs a clean? Or is it because people don’t use that part of the park, and therefore we need to put the seat in a place where people will use it.
RG. Great example, rubbish bin, the sensor can tell you back at head office, it’s full, it’s overflowing, we need to go and pay it some attention.
KG. Absolutely. Or, for that matter, if someone stupidly put a match in there and all of a sudden it’s very hot in that garbage bin, and you need to get someone there very quickly.
RG. You don’t think it’s a bit Big Brother? The fact that I’m using the barbeque – you know how long for?
KG. No, I don’t think so Richard, we’re not putting your name to it. From that point of view, we’re just looking at the numbers of people, not the names of people. It’s about being able to provide efficient services for our community, and certainly Georges River Council is honoured to have been chosen as one of the lead Councils in this area.
RG. Kevin is with us from Georges River Council, just stay with us Kevin. I want to get Nancy Marshall involved, she’s Senior Lecturer in City Planning at the University of NSW and is involved in the trial. Nancy, good afternoon Richard.
NM. It’s great to be with you, Richard.
RG. Nancy, what does it look like, when I sit down on a park bench, for example, what will I see, a little camera?
NM. You will not see a camera, in fact you probably won’t see anything at all. We have a group of small, smart environmental sensors that are attached to benches or the bins, that will measure, as Mayor Greene was saying, fill levels for the bin, the weight on a seat or bench, or heat in an ash receptacle. And they’re so small, you won’t even know it’s there. For the rubbish bin, it’s inside the bin. It’s to capture the use of the environment, not details about people or any personal data. So we’re certainly not adding to that Surveillance State.
RG. So in the case of the bench it’s only my weight on the bench? Which is considerable … My weight on the bench would be received by the sensor to say, someone is using this bench.
NM. Yes. They call it a pulse or a heartbeat on a sensor, so we can measure every half hour, hour, two hours, so it will give the Council really good information about the patterns of use in that domain, or if you like, the life history or the story of that street furniture independent, of itself, in public space.
RG. Presumably we’re saying, in children’s playground, the swings are terribly popular, the slides are not so popular.
NM. Yes. Or we could measure things like sound or noise in the environment, or on a water tap we can talk about water usage, or power draw.
RG. Isn’t there – this is a technological response, isn’t the human response maybe better, to have Council officers go and have a wander through the park, they can get a sense of it, show a bit of Council presence as well?
NM. That’s one way to do it, and I’m sure Council is very effective in having an evidence-based backing to some of their decisions. But this is actually hard data so they may be able to say, look, you’re not out wandering the park at 2am, we can tell you may have a rough sleeper on this bench. Or that these swings are heavily used and you really need to keep them up to date and safe. So this is real-time data that’s evidence to Council for things like urban design and improvements, or asset management.
RG. When you say rough sleeper, that’s the point when I think, that’s a bit creepy. There’s something about the modern world that there’s not little shadows you can hide in anymore, you can’t get away with anything. The fact that somebody might sleep on a bench when no one’s looking, maybe that’s a good thing.
NM. You’d like to think that they wouldn’t need to sleep on the bench in the first place, but there are different ways that different Councils manage that kind of scenario, and some may in fact – something the City of Sydney does – it may sequester rough sleepers so that they do feel safe and have a right to the city.
RG. And that all starts with the data. Kevin Greene, how are you going to use the data, when it all comes flooding in through Nancy and her associates’ methods, how do you use this in the Council.
KG. Certainly we’ll use this for forward planning. We’re pleased to be part of the pilot programme so it will be interesting in the first instance to see what sort of data does come. We have an understanding of what possibly may come in, but most importantly we’ll be able to collect that data now, we’ll be able to use it so that there will be planning for use in parks, particularly in the centre of Hurstville, we’ve got the Hurstville Memorial Plaza, where there’s a lot of people coming through. There’s also additional facilities where you’ll be able to charge your mobile phones in places such as the middle of Hurstville.
RG. A great example, I suppose, to just put the argument in favour for a second, the barbeques in this park are being used, there’s a queue for them. The barbeques here are not being used at all, we should do something about that.
KG. Exactly, whether that’s barbeques, whether it means we need to input extra shelter sheds and preparation areas around those barbeques because there is constant use, or as Nancy indicated whether it’s the playground equipment. Whether it’s a case of, these garbage bins are continually full, do we need to have more garbage bins in that area?
RG. It is a cynical world when it comes to surveillance, we have a text, ‘this is just so the Council can provide evidence that some parks aren’t being used so they can flog them off to developers.’
KG. You can’t flog off any parks, so I’m pleased to denounce any cynical comments, because we’re about providing services in Georges River Council, and we want to see our parks used, and we want to make sure they are quality facilities for all our community.
RG. It is going to be very interesting to see what you find out in six months’ time, maybe we can talk again then, but thank you very much for your time.
KG. An absolute pleasure Richard, and many thanks to Nancy for her support of this project.
Choose from a wide range of readily available products to help bring life, joy and comfort to your community. Street Furniture Australia offers a wide range of seats, benches, tables, litter bins and enclosures, planters, bollards, bike stands and more, made-to-order in Australia. Our products have been tried-and-tested to activate spaces and deliver results. Select from our bright range to bring life, joy and comfort to your community. We are available to assist you today. Ask for a brochure, pricing, CAD files and more. Our manufacturing lead time is 6 weeks. See the slideshow below for a recommended range of street furniture for setting up both temporary and permanent spaces for outdoor dining and recreation – with fixed and moveable options. Access the Slideshow View the Furniture for Outdoor Dining and Street …
This powdercoat additive uses silver ion technology to reduce microbial growth, such as bacteria and mold, up to 99.9% on coated surfaces. It is designed to be used in areas where there is an obvious need to maintain a low level of microbes with high traffic – for example in transport, schools and campuses, places of care and food preparation areas. The coating provides the same decorative and durable performance characteristics as your standard powdercoat, with an additional level of protection against microbial growth on its surface – making it easier to keep hygienically clean. The silver ion technology won’t wear off, wash out or leach from the coating. It is validated and quality control tested to ISO 22196:2011. Enquire with our sales team about adding anti-microbial protection to powdercoated …
Street Furniture Australia, with support from the ACT Government, has begun the Discovery phase for #WodenExperiment, a six-month furniture installation to activate Woden Town Square in Canberra. Members of the community, local businesses and politicians gathered to discuss the project and share their experiences of the square at a workshop held in March. Around 40 participants brainstormed issues and opportunities for the square around Retail Experience, Community Involvement, Comfort and Amenity, and Wow Factor. “It was exciting to see so many people filling the room, with a great mix of people from community, business and local government creating an atmosphere of high energy and interest,” says Diana Hill, Manager Capital Works – Urban with Transport Canberra and City Services. “As a result many great ideas about issues and opportunities were discovered …
Georges River Council with University of New South Wales (UNSW) has launched the Smart Social Spaces Project, an investigation into smart furniture, communities and urban management. Street Furniture Australia is the industry partner for this project. The $658,000 project will see smart furniture installed in a busy plaza, Memorial Square in Hurstville, and a green community space, Olds Park in Penhurst. Sensors on the furniture will monitor how the space is used, providing data on how it may better serve the community. The project is an opportunity, says Georges River Council Mayor Kevin Greene, to lead the exploration of smart public spaces that directly benefit the community. “Council is keen to explore the role technology can play in connecting the community to public spaces, how it can help us to …
Driverless shuttles, park benches that charge your phone and bins that send alerts when they’re full – the Future Street showed smart cities are within our grasp today. The Australian Institute of Landscape Architects (AILA), Internet of Things Alliance Australia (IOTAA) and Smart Cities Council Australia New Zealand (SCCANZ) built the street of the future at Circular Quay on Alfred Street, in front of Customs House in October 2017. Place Design Group, as the design partner, curated Green, Complete and Smart Street zones to imagine the best placemaking outcomes for street designs of the future. “We found that people were using the seats, tables and platforms for work and social gatherings. Build it and they will come, is a good lesson for providing more infrastructure like this in our streets,” …