Improving streetscapes

Vancouver introduced a novel modular utility pole at the New Cities Summit in Paris last week. According to the story in the National Post:

To clear its streets of cellphone towers, parking meters, Wi-Fi terminals, streetlights and even community message boards, the city of Vancouver is pushing forward with a scheme to compress all the technologies together into specialized “Vancouver poles” planted throughout the city.

I have been participating in a task force to help my local community develop a telecommunications infrastructure protocol for dealing with carrier requests for local land use consent. I have been supporting an idea for for the city to leverage its existing vertical real estate, including poles, towers and buildings. As wireless carriers expand their networks for capacity (as opposed to coverage), tower height requirements are reduced; can more of the carrier needs be integrated into replacements for existing lighting, traffic and electric poles?

“We’ve been seeing an almost exponentially growing demand for data,” said Mr. Johnston. “So, we’ve been trying to find a way to integrate cell phone infrastructure into the urban landscape in a way that does not detract from the aesthetic and view qualities of the city.”

As wireless traffic climbs — and infrastructure expands in response — Mr. Coupland predicts that poorly-managed cities could become “as cluttered as a kitchen junk drawer.” “I like to get rid of as much crap as possible from the visual environment,” he said.

Is there an opportunity for cities to develop partnerships with wireless carriers to develop a next generation streetscape, with new energy efficient lighting, reducing clutter while delivering more reliable and diverse competitive wireless coverage?

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