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Wi-Fiber’s streetlights are an easy way to make cities smart

The hardware can be retrofitted into existing lampposts, bringing WiFi and IoT support.
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The difference between the technology in our pockets and that lining our streets is growing ever more pronounced, and that's a problem. It's one of the reasons that smart city technology is going to become an increasingly visible part of the world over the next few years. Communities need to catch up, and companies such as Wi-Fiber are hoping that offering a way to retrofit new equipment into existing infrastructure is the solution.

The company has produced a modular street lamp that can be customized to suit any number of needs, from smart lighting through to municipal WiFi. First up, there are LED bulbs that will offer more efficient lighting, and also the ability to change colors and strobe. That could be useful, for instance, if law enforcement are responding to an emergency, the lights can be flashed to highlight where the crisis is taking place.

Unfortunately, the system will also offer up an easy way to further the reach of our surveillance state, including a 4K camera and a two-way microphone and speaker. In addition, the company is pledging that the footage can be archived and searched, ensuring that Big Brother knows exactly where you are and when. But, on the upside, the system can be fitted out with gunshot sensors, air-quality monitors or even ZigBee controllers.

The placement of municipal WiFi in city centers can also benefit both cities — which can cut down on their cellular subscriptions — and individuals, especially in our smart car future. Wireless infrastructure will better enable machine-to-machine communication, or at least it could, depending on how it's implemented. In fact, that's the rule for all of these things: It all depends on how it's implemented, and the intentions of those who do.

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After training to be an intellectual property lawyer, Dan abandoned a promising career in financial services to sit at home and play with gadgets. He lives in Norwich, U.K., with his wife, his books and far too many opinions on British TV comedy. One day, if he's very, very lucky, he'll live out his dream to become the executive producer of Doctor Who before retiring to Radio 4.

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