So there’s been a lot of discussion surrounding smart cities. Most of the times these discussions are had, I tend to be very sceptical because over the last few years ‘smart’ has basically become a marketing term that doesn’t really mean much. Even Cerevita boxes claim to have ‘smart grains’ in the cereal and because that’s the case it’s hard to understand what is really smart and what isn’t.
Econet today invited businesses, media and their partners to unveil their plans to turn 1st Street into a smart street and judging from their presentation it doesn’t look like this will be a gimmick.
What are the problems?
There are a couple of depressing problems in 1st street. From dilapidated infrastructure to poor sanitation along with non-functioning street lights, the problems are far-reaching and the truth is if you’ve been in 1st street you don’t need a reminder of what’s wrong there.
…And the solutions?
Econet plans to revamp everything! The idea is to install information booths that have touch screens. These booths will serve as a gateway for citizens and the city fathers to communicate. The City Council can use this to disseminate information whilst the citizens will also be able to post complaints through them.
There will also be installation of vending kiosks in order to facilitate a more orderly form of vending. Right now vendors occupy so much space it’s nearly impossible to walk in town without either bumping into someone else or stepping on someone’s tomatoes or whatever it is they are selling and if vendors can be accommodated in a less frustrating manner that would be great for everyone.
Similar to the information booths, these will house touch screens that will allow citizens to make bill payments.
Street lights in 1st Street and the rest of the city are not really functional and Econet wants to replace existing lights with ones that are more energy efficient. These street lights will also be accompanied by CCTV cameras along with smart sensors to control the lights. The cameras will work for surveillance purposes and also for traffic control purposes.
You know those huge screens we see in movies because non-such are common here, well that is part of the stuff Econet wants to put up on 1st Street. These screens will be for businesses that want to advertise, the city can also send out infomercials and who can afford can also send out personalised messages.
There will also be dedicated Wi-Fi points along the city street.
And when will this be done?
This is what Econet is aiming for with this project and it will be interesting to see how the revamped 1st street will look and whether Econet will live upto the smart street promise. In terms of when the public can expect this to be done, neither Econet nor the city council is yet to disclose. What Lovemore Nyatsine (who’s heading the project) did commit to was the fact that this will be done in phases.