A couple of weeks back I talked about how Portland, Oregon was developing a system of plug-in hybrid vehicle recharging stations. Well, now, I’ve learned that Portland is once again the site of a new kind of alternative energy technology, this time solar. Solar-powered Information Access Points (IAP) are being developed by Vibrant City Technology.
The IAPs are outdoor, self-powered kiosks that contain community mapping software. The vandal-proof self-powered GPRS internet assembly kit can be assembled by two people in less than an hour (none of the components weigh more than 130 pounds). The IAPs do not require drilling into concrete and relocating power lines to locate.
The benefits to tourists, locals and anyone else walking the streets of Portland will be that they can quickly and easily find restaurants, nightclubs, shopping, sports stadiums and more using the directions from the mapping software.
The solar panels on top of the kiosk are connected to a battery system that consists of eight 198 amp / hour 6-volt batteries run both in parallel and series to create four large 12-volt sealed gel batteries. As well as provide power to the unit, they also serve as a ballast.
The prototype shown in the photo above (of what it may look like sometime in the near future) was developed by Jacob Mestman and Phil Wells who wish to capitalize on the wave of social networking, which appears to be moving in the direction of local community with the onset of hyper-local social network business directories (Yelp, Yahoo Local, Google walking directions, etc.).
They believe that delivering the internet to street corners and community spaces in urban areas will be an asset to communities and are now identifying four test locations within the downtown Portland area for the IAPs.