There are over 30 free newspapers in circulation in London and the thoughtless disposal of them is the cause of an unsightly litter problem on the city's streets. In order to tackle the issue, the City of London has awarded a company called Renew a 21-year contract to run a digital news service via a network of communication pods that double as recycling bins. Each pod is home to two LCD screens displaying up-to-the-minute bulletins tailored for the needs of city business types, interspersed with news from the worlds of entertainment, sport, fashion, travel, technology and the arts.
The first batch of 25 communication pods went live on January 26 within the Square Mile area of London. There'll be 100 in place by May, rising to 200 in time for the start of the 2012 Olympics in July - when the number of people viewing the broadcast news channels on the built-in LCD screens is expected to reach over three million.
Renew has teamed up with partners and contributors like the London Stock Exchange, Getty Images, Agence France Presse, Bloomberg, The Economist, Time Out, Square Meal, Car Magazine, the World Wildlife Fund, and ESPN, to provide content for the bulletins. The company's editorial team will select choice financial and corporate news, general news headlines and weather updates for broadcast throughout the network of pods.
The daily news service will run from 6am to just before midnight on every working day. The service can also be used to alert and update city-goers to transport disruptions or civil emergencies.
Each 585 x 1,275 x 1,363-mm (23 x 50 x 53-inch) pod has an inner chassis made from a material said to be four times stronger than steel, and body panels made from glass-reinforced polymer. The live news bulletins are displayed on two 32-inch LCD panels featuring toughened glass, low-energy LED backlights and adaptive brightness technology. The recycling bin part of each unit is expected to collect in the region of 1.5 tonnes (1.65 tons) of recyclable material - primarily paper - every year.
Renew has a team checking pods for signs of damage from vandals, graffiti artists and fly posters every day and the maintenance costs associated with the running of the system (including replacement of damaged pods or components) will be met by the company. No public sector money is involved in the project.
The company has also announced that enhanced wireless connectivity will be rolled out to the units during 2012 to provide numerous interaction opportunities between mobile devices and the digital news stands.
Visitors to the New York Stock Exchange will be given an opportunity to see a Renew communication pod in action for themselves when the company installs the first unit in front of the famous building during Q2. Interest in the project has also been received from transportation operators in Japan and real estate owners in Singapore.