At first sight, it looks like an ordinary lamppost. But what separates it from the rest is that it, apart from lighting the area, offers high-speed telecommunications connectivity and Wi-Fi service, facilitates waste management, gives real-time air quality data and serves as digital signage for the community.
Close-circuit cameras can also be installed on it, beefing up security surveillance. The pole shows how a smart city would look like as Dhaka aspires to become one.
Embarking on making Dhaka a smart city is not just a reverie because multipurpose poles have already been set up under a joint initiative of several telecom companies and the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC).
Edotco Bangladesh, an integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company, has deployed two such poles in Dhaka – one in Banani and another in Gulshan-2 DCC market.
"I am committed to converting Dhaka into a smart city and we are excited to be able to deploy smart city solutions like this for the first time, giving our people a new and improved platform for social and civil services," said DNCC Mayor Md Atiqul Islam while inaugurating the initiative during a virtual programme yesterday.
"This will not only provide excellent connectivity but also improved quality of life. This is an ideal example of PPP."
The smart lamp pole is the result of a public-private partnership (PPP) aimed at developing smart city features on a pilot basis. If the piloting succeeds, more than 200 such solutions will be put up in the DNCC area.
This would allow smartphone users to use free Wi-Fi for 20 minutes with eight megabytes per second download speed within 40 to 50 metres radius of the pole. If a user wants to consume more data, they can purchase additional time slots from internet service provider Sheba using mobile balance.
An internet of things device installed on the 36-feet tower will give information about the filing status of the smart bins located within a 100-metre radius of the pole to the DNCC monitoring centre, saying whether they are full or not.
If required, the city corporation will collect the bins or replace them with fresh ones.
Mobile carrier Robi established its network on both the towers, enhancing service quality in the area.
The deployment of the multipurpose smart lamp pole has brought multiple players from the ecosystem together to provide uninterrupted connectivity to the citizens.
The arrangement allows the tower company to sell its tower space to mobile phone operators using the DNCC's spare or unused spaces. In return, citizens get free services such as free Wi-Fi, light, air quality report, awareness messages and smart bin, according to the mayor.
The installation of the poles also makes ready the telecom industry for the upcoming 5G technology as a huge number of towers would be required for the fifth-generation service.
"While we focus on ensuring continuous, stable and fast connectivity for all the citizens, we are also committed to enabling the nation's 5G readiness by introducing next-generation solutions such as smart city solutions," Ricky Steyn, managing director of edotco Bangladesh said.
The company currently owns and operates more than 10,000 telecom towers across the country and is developing towers that are power-efficient, eco-friendly and are not harmful.
Md Jahurul Haque, chairman of the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission; Muhammed Zafar Iqbal, professor of computer science and engineering at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, and Mahtab Uddin Ahmed, chief executive officer of Robi, attended the virtual event.