‘Talking’ lamp posts become a reality at MediaCityUK

German UK Ambassador Andreas Michaelis, left, and Salford City Mayor Paul Dennett test out the tech

Salford’s MediaCityUK is installing technology to enable conversations with street furniture, such as lamp posts, benches or flower planters, to get feedback from the public, via text message.

London-based Hello Lamp Post is bringing state-of-the-art interactive Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to various sites across the creative, digital and tech destination which will encourage the public to have their say in shaping its future.

This is the first of many Hello Lamp Post roll-outs across the UK and abroad, designed to bridge the gap between citizen experience and the shaping of public spaces for the future.

Everyone from workers, to residents and visitors will be able to interact with their surroundings by scanning a QR code on a public object such as a planter or bench, enabling them to engage in a two-way conversation via text, receiving real-time answers to their questions as well as information on MediaCityUK’s rich variety of cultural sites and landmarks.

Hello Lamp Post’s QR codes will be located at popular spots such as Quayside MediaCityUK, Box on the Docks, next to the Manchester Ship Canal and within MediaCityUK’s award winning gardens. All those living in and visiting will be encouraged to engage in a playful exchange or informative chat about what makes MediaCityUK special.

The quirky questions include everything from, what you have had for breakfast, to every Brit’s favourite topic – the weather.

Individuals will also be asked to share insights about their experience and vision for the area on an ongoing basis, which will be fed directly to MediaCityUK and Salford City Council. The data not only gathers sentiment but is an empowering customer service tool as the teams will be looking to implement changes and ideas suggested by the community.

The partnership with Hello Lamp Post came from the MediaCityUK Smart City Innovation Testbed which took place earlier in the year, giving tech start-ups across the UK the opportunity to develop their products and services in real city environments. Run by the UP Accelerator Group and the Connected Places Catapult, the programme is one of the many ways MediaCityUK is supporting and employing smart technologies.

Josie Cahill, place director of MediaCityUK, said: “By investing in smart city accelerators such as Hello Lamp Post, it’s a great example of how MediaCityUK can act as ‘living lab’ where we can test and bring to life new innovative ideas. With creativity and technology at the core of MediaCityUK’s identity, Hello Lamp Post provides an exciting and accessible way of obtaining real-time feedback.

“Hearing from the public about what they’d like to see more of in MediaCityUK forms part of the long term strategy to see it grow into a bigger and better place for future generations while also giving us new technology to share important local information.”

Tiernan Mines, CEO of Hello Lamp Post, said: “Our technology enables citizen and visitor feedback to shape cities for the future and we couldn’t be more thrilled to see this taking place in MediaCityUK.

“As a city renowned for forward thinking and embracing new ideas, we see our partnership with MediaCityUK and Salford City Council as the perfect grounds for creating real and lasting change.

“With the unique and diverse landscape that makes up MediaCityUK, the directions for growth are endless and we’re encouraging all those engaging with our technology to open their minds to the opportunities available and to share their ideas to help create a vision for the future that is aligned with their wants and needs.”