Looking for somewhere nearby to park, a new cycle route, the opening times of a coffee bar, etc.? You can simply check online or install an app. But what happens if your data allowance has been used up or your battery is flat? And who says your particular app is up to date anyway?
CityBeacon and Eurofiber, the provider of high-quality digital infrastructure and fiber-optic networks, have entered into a strategic partnership to fight against the proliferation of applications, information boards and connectivity options. “Our aim is to work on creating a pleasant new urban experience,” says Wim Van den Broeck, managing director of CityBeacon. “That’s why we have launched the modern concept of a CityBeacon.”
CityBeacons are physical terminals , located in public places and containing a whole array of technology, including monitors and touchscreens, WiFi hotspots, cameras, street lighting and more. “The terminal not only provides functional information such as the nearest car park, coffee bar or route guidance, but also links your smartphone with free, high-speed WiFi,” explains Van den Broeck. “These are deliberately open and connected platforms that enable information to be exchanged between local residents, visitors, government bodies, local retailers and so on.” CityBeacons create new forms of collaboration and new communities – all of which contributes to the development of smart cities.”
CityBeacon will be offered as a service for cities and governments. Van den Broeck: “For cities it is not always straightforward to invest in technology that is also evolving very quickly and hence changing. The equipment needs to stay up to date at all times, which is why we are taking responsibility for the funding, installation, operation and maintenance.”
Fast, continuous exchange of data
The success of projects such as CityBeacon naturally stands or falls by the quality of their connectivity. So the choice of a partner for the venture soon fell on Eurofiber. “It is our aim to ensure that a fast, continuous exchange of data is possible,” says Hans Witdouck, CEO of Eurofiber. “If you haven’t got connectivity, it’s like a roadside emergency phone that doesn’t work. Frustrating. Which is why we are improving and strengthening the urban feel by providing the optimum user experience. This means that having an extremely fast, stable, reliable and high-performance connection is a critical factor in the success story.”
As a result, this partnership has a great chance of succeeding. Witdouck again: “Eurofiber delivers a fiber-optic network that covers the entire country. It connects all Belgian datacenters and offers a direct connection to all of the major cloud platforms. That way data stored in the cloud is always available, quickly and securely.”
In the meantime, the first interactive terminals have already been installed in Eindhoven. Both parties are now looking at launching the concept in Belgium’s major cities and showing our country the way to smart cities.
Article appeared in the December edition of Knack Fokus.