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Street benches which can power your phone could soon be making their way to Wrexham city centre as part of a regeneration scheme.

The so-called “smart” benches use solar power to charge the battery of mobile devices while you sit down.

Similar seats have already been installed elsewhere in North Wales after they were placed in the villages of Llanfair Talhaiarn and Llangernywl in Conwy in 2019.

Wrexham Council is now planning to install smart benches on the city’s High Street.

It forms part of a wider “SMART Towns initiative” which was set up to consider ways to help businesses recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Other measures will see two interactive touch screen devices placed on both the High Street and Lord Street to provide information for visitors.

A senior officer said in a report to councillors that it would also aid Wrexham’s next attempt to become City of Culture after judges from the previous bid raised issues with digital connectivity when they visited in 2023.

David Fitzsimon, the local authority’s chief officer for economy and planning, said: “The issue of digital connectivity was raised in the judges’ feedback and improving the user experience in and around the city centre has been taken as a priority by the council’s SMART City development officer.

“Two digital hubs have been purchased for installation in May/June 2024 at High Street and Lord Street.

“The units will be fully interactive with 65-inch touchscreens hosting the Wrexham app, maps and event information to visitors to the city and help promote what the city has to offer and including those who do not own or use a mobile phone.

“Smart benches are planned within the works on High Street. These will allow the charging of mobile phones and support safety to visitors especially during the night economy trading hours.”

The project has already seen the introduction of the Wrexham VZTA app to provide information for visitors.

According to the report, it has been downloaded 3,354 times since its launch in March this year and holds details on more than 60 businesses.

The council is also using sensors to monitor data such as footfall, traffic counts, vehicle speed, air quality and customer satisfaction.

The report reveals how the sensors were used to inform its recent decision to remove the “free after 11am” parking scheme in Wrexham.

It states: “The pilot has seen 20 sensors placed across four car parks – Water World, Wrexham Library, Market Street and St Giles’.

“The data informs on the dwell time of a vehicle parked in a particular bay.

“The data has been considered in the overall council’s car parking strategy, highlighting the need for change as it was evidenced that cars were parked for a considerable amount of time.

“(Also) spaces were not freed up to ensure visitors have the opportunity to access the city centre.”

The data could be used in future as part of a local parking app to inform people how many spaces are available in Wrexham’s car parks.

Detectors have even been placed in flower beds in the city centre to check how often plants need watering.

Mr Fitzsimon said: “Each sensor can be looked at individually to obtain more specific data relating to timescales of the moisture levels.

“The data has been used from the city centre street team and feedback from the supervisor was positive that it indicated plants that only need watering rather than a blanket approach, thus saving time, water and optimising the growing conditions for the plants.”

The report will be discussed by members of the council’s employment, business and investment scrutiny committee when they meet on Wednesday (May 1, 2024).

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Liam Randall

Quelle/Source: Herald News Wales, 27.04.2024

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