Thursday, July 23, 2015

Dubai does it again with WiFi Palms

Ooops, Dubai does it again! This time, by putting palms to good use offering free WiFi around the city.

I have been seeing a white palm on the beach next to Burj Al Arab while at the traffic light on Thanya Street going towards Beach Road, but I haven't been able to stop. So I had a poke online.

That’s how I found out it is a Smart Palm station, among others Dubai is planning to roll out around the city, to provide free WiFi in parks, beaches and other locations.

As I only have WiFi, I can’t wait until one of the Smart Palms is installed on the free beach I go to in Umm Suqeim.

The first Smart Palm was installed at Gate 6 in Zabeel Park a couple of months ago. There are plans to provide over 50 more of them this year.

Dubai Municipality recently installed the Smart Palm I see on the beach next to Burj Al Arab Hotel and plans to cover all open public beaches in Al Mamzar, Jumeirah and Umm Suqeim.

The UAE-made stations stand six meters tall in the shape of a palm tree. They have fast mobile phone charging stations and screens displaying information on Dubai’s attractions.

The WiFi palms are a venture between Dubai Municipality, Smart Palm creators D Idea Media, Du, Sun Tab Solar Energy and Promo Tech Gulf Industry. The project is in line with the UAE Cabinet’s decision to make 2015 the Year of Innovation.

The development took just 10 months from conception to delivering the finished product. After receiving its patent, Smart Palm began working with its partners who each contributed towards the overall functionality of the product.

The Smart Palms' 18-square-meter leaves run entirely on solar power and offer high-speed WiFi up to a range of 53 meters, supporting up to 50 users at a time. They have several phone and tablet charging points offering two-and-a-half times faster charging speeds than a regular plug. Two screens on each palm offer weather information, local news, a navigation application, general Dubai information -- and even a selfie camera.

Soaking up the sun during the day, these state-of-the-art palms store energy to be discharged after sunset. There are eight charging points and WiFi ranges on each palm.

Dubai Municipality Director-General Hussain Lootah said ”the structures are entirely self-sufficient thanks to their mono crystal solar panels, which provide up to 21 percent efficiency.”

From the pictures, they look even more impressive lit up at night.

Alya Harmoudi, director of Environment Department at Dubai Municipality, said the stations can display updates on events and activities on the beach and serve as a public announcement system. They also show beach rules, guidelines, tips and sea conditions.

“For us, it was important to translate the important cultural identity of the date palm from being a plant that provides shelter, building materials, shade and sustenance, to our Smart Palm, designed to provide data, connectivity, energy and all in a sustainable manner,” says Viktor Nelepa, Smart Palm's founder, in a press release.

A trip down to the beach at night to see the high-tech palm is now a must.