Vancouver writer and artist Douglas Coupland unveiled a proposal for a future utility pole that would include wireless data transmission on May 14 at the New Cities Summit in Paris.
Dubbed the V-Pole (‘V’ for Vancouver), the slim, multipurpose utility pole would provide Wi-Fi, mobile wireless, LED street lighting, electric vehicle charging and parking transactions, as well as acting as an electronic neighborhood bulletin board.
Coupland was joined by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson during the announcement.
“Vancouver is a leader in urban innovation and we are always looking at ways to stay on the sharpest edge of technology,” Mayor Robertson said. “The V-Pole is an example of future-driven design for cities that we are excited to see.”
Designing futuristic technology is a new venture for Coupland, who has published 13 novels, a collection of short stories, seven nonfiction books, and a number of dramatic works and screenplays for film and television. He envisions the V-Pole as a more energy-efficient and cost-effective version of today’s utility structures, which would reduce visual clutter along the streetscape.
“I’m not interested in this as a personal business venture,” Coupland said. “I’m presenting this only to get people thinking about the future. The V-Pole is a whole new way of approaching how we develop and democratize what can only be described as an inevitable force that’s headed toward us like an asteroid at full speed. And we can turn it into art.”
More than a year ago, Coupland began investigating ways of creating open source wireless when he encountered lightRadio technology while doing research for a book at Bell Labs in New Jersey.
“It’s a remarkable coincidence that just as I was looking for an enabling technology, the lightRadio dropped in my lap,” said Coupland. “The wireless data game has changed. Data transmission is no longer something scary you don’t want in your backyard. Now you want it directly in front of your house.”