The pilot scheme of ten solar-powered benches will enhance public spaces in the boroughs of Lewisham and Islington by providing mobile device charging ports and free wifi access.
The first smart benches will feature a number of contactless payment locations including Islington Green and Lewisham High Street.
Following the pilot a further ten will be installed by the end of February, with an extra 80 to be installed this year.
Sensors built into the benches monitor environmental data including air quality, which users can check via the Strawberry Energy smart phone app, providing a valuable tool for users and feeding data to local boroughs.
This is especially relevant in support of London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s aim to improve the capital’s air quality.
Contactless donations to Cancer Research UK
Contactless payment technology allows smart bench users to donate £2 to the charity’s life-saving research by simply tapping their contactless debit or credit card
Cancer Research UK is the first brand to partner with the network of Strawberry Smart Benches at busy borough locations.
Paul Weaver, digital innovation manager at Cancer Research UK, said: “Having used contactless technology in innovative ways in the past to engage the public in the work we do, we are always looking for new opportunities to incorporate contactless technology further and make it even easier for our supporters to help us beat cancer sooner.
“These smart benches seemed like the next step in our use of contactless technology to bring charitable giving closer to our supporters, integrating it seamlessly into cutting-edge street furniture.”
Serbian business committed to new London home
Strawberry Energy UK (www.smartbench.london), developers and owners of the smart benches, is a company originating in Serbia but nowestablished as a UK business.
Building on a foothold in Canary Wharf, the company has taken on production and installation of these first benches, without cost to taxpayers, as part of the company’s commitment to its new London business base
Miloš Milisavljević, founder of Strawberry Energy, said: “We have been working with boroughs to breathe life into our dream of a network of solar-powered smart benches, making energy free for all Londoners.
“We are proud to launch our network in the lead up to World Cancer Day with a contactless fundraising innovation in aid of Cancer Research UK.”
Islington and Lambeth welcome Smart Bench network
Councillor Claudia Webbe, Islington‘s executive member for environment and transport (pictured below with Miloš Milisavljević), said: “We are committed to making Islington a place where everyone can enjoy an excellent quality of life.
“These pioneering smart benches offer the best advances in smart technology. We are very pleased Islington is one of the first places in London to trial smart benches, and look forward to seeing how they benefit residents, workers and visitors alike.”
Councillor Rachel Onikosi, Lewisham Cabinet Member for the Public Realm, said: “I’m very pleased that Lewisham is part of the start of this network of smart benches. Finding creative ways to make the most of our public spaces benefits local communities and attracts people to come and see the great things Lewisham has to offer.”
Smart bench network provides valuable brand exposure
Strawberry Energy UK has been working with Urban Partnerships, a division of MKTG, to deliver the branded commercial element necessary to extend this project across London.
Michael Brown, Managing Director, MKTG said: “Research shows the way consumers perceive brands has a huge influence on the effectiveness of that brand’s advertising. The smart bench network provides an opportunity for brands and local boroughs to create positive, impactful experiences for communities, who benefit from the various smart utilities provided by the network.”
As well as making donations via these Smart Benches, Cancer Research UK is also urging the nation to wear a Unity Band® on World Cancer Day (4 February), creating one incredible #ActofUnity that will help beat cancer sooner. Unity Bands can be bought online: cruk.org/worldcancerday