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Street Furniture Australia Head of Innovation June Lee Boxsell said the "ChillOUT Hubs aim to offer some relief in our densifying cities by providing opportunities to meet, work or rest, and spend more time outdoors."
"Each hub packs a punch - integrating shade, seats and tables, charging stations, solar power, sensors, lighting, public WiFi, greenery, smart fountains and smart bins - a big feat combining tech, industrial design and placemaking," she said.
Three hubs are already installed in the Georges River Council region in south Sydney as part of a pilot study for the Australian Government's Smart Cities and Suburbs Program. They were the result of collaboration between the Council, the Smart Social Spaces research team from UNSW and the University of Sydney, and Street Furniture Australia.
Street Furniture Australia designed the hubs with input from its partners. Council undertook the overall project management, including installation. The Smart Social Spaces team is developing a digital asset management dashboard, and will evaluate the impact of the hubs with a formal study.
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University of Sydney Associate Professor Nancy Marshall said her Smart Social Spaces research team was particularly interested in "how smart street furniture alters human behaviour in public open space, and how it might contribute to the community's health and social well-being. We were also curious whether a dashboard could enable councils to more effectively manage their infrastructure," she said.
"Person-on-the-street surveys are being conducted to give us a complete picture of why the hubs and their technologies are, or are not, being used. We are also analysing how the hubs impact the urban heat microclimate," Marshall said.
Georges River Council Mayor Kevin Greene said that "as technology becomes more integrated into our lives, it's important for councils to harness new technologies to better serve the needs of communities and improve services."
"These new public spaces are an exciting achievement as we move towards our goal of creating a connected city," he said.
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