Trash cans in New York City might be in for a connectivity makeover. A Massachusetts company called BigBelly has applied for a grant from the Mayor’s Office to help them turn hundreds of its trash cans and recycling bins into wireless hotspots for underserved neighborhoods.
Since it was founded in 2003, BigBelly has made high-tech solar-powered trash cans and recycling containers, with features such as detecting if garbage is too smelly, notifying trash collectors that it’s time for pick-up or compressing the contents if the can is almost full. Now their new goal of converting their 170 NYC solar-powered waste containers into hotspots is in motion, CityLab reports. The company tested the first two hotspot containers last winter in NYC, keeping detailed records of the activity and signal quality.
BigBelly partnered with NYC-based Downtown Alliance to implement the hotspot containers, which promised speeds of 50 to 75 megabits per second, last winter. These smart waste containers can also display public announcements and alerts, and, since they’re on the ground level, their signals aren’t affected by tall buildings. Most likely they will also become digital billboards to raise money to continue running. BigBelly plans to test more trash cans in the near future and if they get the grant from the city, they aim to equip their trash cans with WiFi as soon as this fall.