One Stop Shopping for Urban Communication and Vehicle Charging


Illustration of a V-Pole, Mathew Bulford

The clutter of wireless communication infrastructure that currently litters modern urban areas might soon be replaced with sleek, integrated and adaptable technology hubs. The idea behind the V-Pole in Vancouver, B.C. combines mobile phone coverage and wi-fi capability into a single piece of municipal infrastructure. Douglas Coupland, Canadian author and artist, teamed up with Vancouver’s mayor to present the V-Pole concept to the New Cities Summit.

As it stands, every new wireless communication protocol and carrier brings with it a new host of devices to propagate its frequency. These devices are mounted onto buildings, towers, and other pieces of infrastructure. The V-Pole flips the equation on its head: instead of the wireless technology as a nuisance and eyesore, it’s highlighted as an amenity and seamlessly built into the urban fabric.

In addition to the benefits resulting from consolidated communication infrastructure, the V-Pole can integrate with LED street lighting and electric vehicle charging stations. The aesthetic and functional improvements to public, urban spaces that could be achieved through the V-Pole are very fascinating. The one thing that seems to be missing (from the diagram) is a bike rack.

Strangely enough, this isn’t the first time that urban areas have been nearly buried by communications devices. The National Post (Vancouver) related the story of Thomas Edison’s invention of the Quadruplex Telegraph, which allowed multiple telegraph operators to use the same lines – thus preventing “dense urban jungles of telegraph wires that came close to blocking out the sun.”

Douglas Coupland released the idea of the V-Pole as an open source platform. He says he has no intention of using this concept for financial gain. It is unclear what the next step will be for the V-Pole. It may be possible for municipalities to incentivize this technology platform over other conventional methods that wireless carriers are currently using, but that would likely take some serious commitment from city leadership.

Download the V-Pole fact sheet [pdf].

Hat tip to Planetizen.