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Sierra Daily

May 31, 2012

Uncluttering the City

Vpole   V-Pole_02Cell phone towers, street lights, and parking meters all intrude in the urban landscape. Douglas Coupland, artist and author of Generation X and Microserfs, recently unveiled a bright all-in-one idea: the V-Pole, a single pole that would contain all the data transmission needs of an urban area.

According to the National Post, “The device, no larger than a telephone pole, would manage cell signals for multiple carriers, as well as wireless Internet for the surrounding neighbourhood. In-ground pads plugged into the pole would provide inductive charging for parked electric cars. An integrated touch screen would display maps, ads or payment inter-faces, and an LED street light would be perched at the top of the pole. ‘You could pay for parking, you could pay for electric vehicle charging, that kind of thing,’ said Sadhu Johnston, Vancouver's deputy city manager.”

The V-Pole design is made possible by lightRadio, a device developed by Bell Labs and Alcatel-Lucent that compresses a cell phone tower’s circuit boards and cables into a small cube. “You can stack them inside a pole like Lego,” says Coupland.

Though still in the conceptual stage, the V-Pole has the support of Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson. Coupland hit on the idea of the V-Pole after he and the mayor were lamenting the encroachment of cell phone towers in their city. Downtown Vancouver is home to more than 100 cell towers operated by competing wireless service providers. 

According to Popular Science, “Coupland’s idea also includes a wide array of color schemes from which neighborhoods could choose, representing anything from a pileated woodpecker to the Vancouver Canucks.”  

Photo illustration by V-Pole.com/Martin Tessler & Mathew Bulford

HS_ReedMcManusReed McManus is a senior editor at Sierra. He has worked on the magazine since Ronald Reagan’s second term.  For inspiration, he turns to cartoonist R. Crumb’s  Mr. Natural, who famously noted: “Twas ever thus."

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