Saturday, June 15

New York’s Hottest WiFi Hotspot Isn’t What You’d Expect

The Internet of Things may have started as nothing more than a theory, but today just about everything is connected — from our smartphones to refrigerator egg trays (seriously). One New York City waste management company is looking to top that, however, with garbage bins that double as WiFi hotspots.

Massachusetts-based Bigbelly has placed 170 solar powered “smart bins” around Manhattan. The containers also contain WiFi units that provide 50 to 75 megabits per second — more than enough to run a small business, download an HD movie in nine minutes, or upload 200 photos in 27 seconds.

But the bins aren’t just there to give New Yorkers free internet access. They also serve a more environmentally friendly purpose by sensing when the bin is too full or too smelly.

The company previously used similar smart bins in Allentown, PA, last year, but without the WiFi. When they decided to expand this green trash service to New York, they gave the units an upgrade with wireless internet.

Putting the cans — and the WiFi signals — at street level could mean improved service for New York residents and visitors, who rely on local searches to find restaurants, shops, and other attractions. That’s good for business, too, as recent studies have shown that 65 to 70% of consumers have visited a business after seeing a local search PPC ad online.

Bigbelly’s project to bring more WiFi (and smart trash cans) to New York started last winter, when they collaborated with New York’s Downtown Alliance. The project started with two bins and expanded to the current number as more people took advantage of the signal.

As part of their environmentally friendly purpose, though, the Bigbelly cans also help the government collect data about waste management. Government agencies can also use the bins to display public service announcements and alerts; private advertising companies could also use them to display ads to pedestrians.

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