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CityX: ideas into action

Digital Street Furniture: the Market Opportunities

Find out how the Catapult is demonstrating digital street furniture, and creating market opportunities for innovative UK businesses.

Digital street furniture has become increasingly common in our cities. It offers new ways for councils and planners to gather data and engage with citizens, whilst also stimulating a market for innovative UK SMEs to access.

The Catapult has developed prototypes to demonstrate the huge potential for these innovative digital products.

They can be adapted to collect real time data to inform city decisions, consult with residents on how to improve their area or offer a low cost experimental lab where innovators can pilot new technologies.

With so many uses, the scope to develop new products and technologies for these devices is vast. So if you’re keen to discover more then talk to us.

A guide to digital street furniture opportunities

Digital street furniture offers real opportunities for a wide variety of people from city leaders and planners, researchers and innovative SMEs to residents and visitors.

Through the information they gather and share, these devices have the potential to aid the planning, design and management of our city spaces as well encouraging economic development and better citizen engagement. They are also great places to trial and deploy new urban innovations.

The market potential for digital street furniture is enormous. By creating our own prototypes called Tech Totems and placing them in Birmingham and Newcastle, we’ve been able to explore their potential uses and highlight the opportunities they offer to innovative companies able to develop hardware and software products and services.

To find out more about trialling a Tech Totem in your city or to test out your new data sensing applications in a totem.

What digital street furniture can do

Mobile Experimentation Labs

Digital street furniture can be used as mobile experimentation labs. It can provide a secure, low cost space for academics, researchers and companies to run a series of trials or pilots for new city technologies.

Several experiments can be run at the same time that monitor different aspects of city life and its environment from air quality, noise levels to audio and screen-based data collection.

Within the totem at Newcastle University, the Urban Data Observatory (part of the University) is running a series of trials using sensors to monitor air particles, weather patterns and noise levels.

This data is available on the Totem’s screen for the general public to access to help them make decisions about how and when they do things in the local area. For example, by viewing air quality trends they can decide when best to plan a run.

Public Consultations

Public consultations about a new development or planning proposal in a city are often beset with difficulties and a lack of engagement with residents and other interested parties.

Totems and other street furniture can resolve these issues. They can be placed close to the site of a proposed development displaying 3D versions of the plans.

People can interact and give immediate feedback via screens, providing invaluable observations and insight of those who’ll most be affected by the plans.


Providing ‘hyper local’ information helps to bring an area to life with local businesses and Business Improvement Districts showcasing events and recommendations via the e-screen. All our Totems are fitted with standard ‘wayfinding’ software so that depending on weather, traffic and other factors, the Totem will recommend local shops, cafes, events and amenities to help people explore and get the most out of the area.

Impact Evaluation

Digital street furniture can be used to deliver effective and efficient evaluation on the impact of city policies and interventions. Using a customisable array of sensors fitted within them, real-time information and data can be gathered, either on a temporary or permanent basis. This can be analysed to provide accurate and unobtrusive evaluation of changes.For example, the impact of a new traffic management system on an area.

If you’re an innovative SME or a city planner, policy maker or work in a Business Improvement District, and you are interested in developing digital street furniture or trailing or deploying new urban innovation using digital street furniture, contact us.

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