Solar-powered trash bins in New York City might soon provide more than just waste disposal. Bigbelly, a waste management company with trash and recycling cans located across the city, wants to turn its garbage centers into free WiFi hotspots that can support the bandwidth equivalent of an entire small business.
A pilot project in downtown Manhattan has been ongoing since last winter, when the company rigged two of its 170 neighborhood trash cans with WiFi hot spots. Tests of the signal quality and number of people who could connect to the network showed that the dank location of the WiFi units wouldn’t be a problem. Each unit had a bandwidth of 50 to 75 megabits per second.
The smart trash cans will not only be used to power the Facebooking of passersby, but could also provide the city with a new way to collect data about its garbage. Bigbelly is planning further pilot tests with its garbage-based WiFi network, and hopes to secure sponsorships and grants to expand city-wide.
New York City has a history of ambitious plans to turn everyday city sights into hotspots. Previous plans to blanket the Big Apple with public Internet access have included one to replace pay phones with WiFi consoles and phone charging stations (the first stations should launch in September). Looks like New Yorkers will never be offline again.