The Public Wi-Fi You Are Using May Be Coming From a Trashcan

The Public Wi-Fi You Are Using May Be Coming From a Trashcan

BigBelly is harnessing its tech-savvy, solar powered trashcan to provide public Wi-Fi

Leigh Ann Renzulli
  • 24 july 2015

The fact that major metropolitan areas have been striving to provide free, public Wi-Fi is nothing new. Bigbelly has teamed up with New York City’s Downtown Alliance to provide public Wi-Fi through solar powered trash cans.

While the idea of your Wi-Fi coming from the same place that you discarded your banana peel and empty coffee cup this morning might feel counterintuitive, it’s important to note that these are some pretty high-tech trashcans. Bigbelly’s trashcans have the ability to notify cities, towns and campuses about fullness levels of their trash and recycling cans. This way, staff can make cost effective decisions about when and where they need to empty the receptacles. BigBelly calls this the “Smart City” initiative.

“We have always been focused on smart waste and recycling,” said Leila Dillon, Vice President of global marketing for Bigbelly. “We’ve been doing this for over 12 years in all 50 states and 47 countries. We are incredibly unique in that we are this incredible tech platform sitting on some of the most precious real estate in the world. So we started thinking what else can we do? And that’s where the Wi-Fi came in.”

It was a service that the Downtown Alliance was certainly interested in, which is why the Wi-Fi program is being piloted in New York City.

“The Downtown Alliance has been providing Wi-Fi since 2003,” said Jeremy Schneider, Chief Technology Officer at Downtown Alliance. “But we are always looking to do it more effectively. The big challenge now is power. How do you power a device in the city on a street?”


Enter solar power. Schneider knew that Bigbelly harnessed solar power to operate the trash compactors. Could it also power a Wi-Fi connection?

“It was such a pie in the sky idea, but Bigbelly is the kind of company that puts resources behind an idea like that,” said Schneider.

The pilot has been up and running for a few months, and so far it is going well. Schneider says that he can monitor when people are connected to the Wi-Fi provided by a Bigbelly.

“It’s cool to pull it up and see in real time that people are connected,” said Schneider, “And they would never know that the Wi-Fi was coming from that trashcan over there.”


+fitness / sport

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