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WiFi blooms in Dubai parks with charging points for smart gadgets

Visitors to major public parks in Dubai need no longer get disappointed if they do not have enough charge or data in their smartphones or tablets.

The Dubai Municipality on Wednesday launched the ‘Smart Palm’ project that offers park visitors free WiFi service along with charging points for smart gadgets, the first of its kind initiative in the Middle East.

Free WiFi to parks and beaches in Dubai was announced at Gitex in October last year.

The Smart Palm is a self-sustaining community tech hub, the structure of which is in the shape of a date palm. The six-metre high solar-powered structure has solar panels fixed on top of its frond-shaped roof. It also has an attached platform equipped with multiple charging points, designed to support both mobile phones and tablets.

The first Smart Palm in Dubai went live at Gate 6 of Zabeel Park. Speaking after the launch, Director-General of the Dubai Municipality Hussain Nasser Lootah said 52 more Solar Palms will be installed this year including on public beaches and major parks like Dubai Creek Park, Al Mamzar and Al Barsha Pond Park.

The Smart Palm provides an array of services for the public, including free WiFi from telecom company Du with up to a range of 53 metres, sustaining up to 50 users at any given time.

“Through Smart Palm, the public will be able to benefit from free direct access to the Internet while providing valuable public information covering a range of topics including weather forecasts and orientation guides. Most importantly, these structures are entirely self-sufficient, thanks to their mono-crystal solar panels, which provide up to 21 per cent efficiency,” Lootah said in a media statement.

There are eight charging points on each Smart Palm, offering extreme recharging capability, two and a half times faster than a regular plug, it added.

Mixed reactions

The news of parks and beaches going smart evoked mixed reactions from Dubai residents. “It’s great! I’m sure the youngsters like me will love it. I love taking selfies. We can share pics live from the park for free,” said Monica Mathias, who works as an accountant.

While many people welcomed the move, there were voices of opposition, as well.

Lalu Prabhakar, an operations manager at a trading firm, said such offers may tempt people to be glued to the Net even in parks where they should be disconnected from the virtual world and enjoying the natural beauty with family and friends. “That could be the only quality time you get with family sometimes. If you start chatting and surfing, why should you even go to the park,” he wondered.

But he said facilitating people to charge their phones in case of emergency is a good idea.

Men using the Palm charge station at Zabeel Park on Wednesday. — KT photo by Rahul Gajjar

Faridoon AbdulRahman Mohammed, head of the Investment Section at the municipality told Khaleej Times that the platform structure of the Smart Palm can be used by visitors to sit and charge their gadgets.

He did not say if there will be any 
time restrictions for visitors to use Wi-Fi connection or for charging their gadgets or what the system will be to control the crowd if there are too many users at a time. However, he said the company responsible for the project will also be in charge of managing the use of Solar Palms.

A brand conceived by private firm D IDEA, the Smart Palm project has companies such as Du, Sun Tab Solar Energy and Promo Tech Gulf Industry contributing towards the overall functionality of the product.

 

Source: Khaleej Times

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