Solar-powered smart bins that act as Wi-Fi hot spots launched at Orchard Road

Jason Kumar, co-founder of Terra Sol (left) explaining the capabilites of the solar-powered smart compacting BigBelly bins as Mr Steven Goh, exectuive director of Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA) (right) looks at the bin. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

SINGAPORE - "Smart" bins that act as Wi-Fi hot spots and which send alerts for them to be cleared when they are almost full, now line a small stretch between two Orchard Road malls.

Ten of these bins have been placed along the 500m outdoor pedestrian walkway between Wisma Atria and Mandarin Gallery.

A three-month pilot trial of these bins was launched on Tuesday (Nov 15) by technology firm Terra Sol and the Orchard Road Business Association (Orba) after a year of planning.

The bins, called Bigbelly smart bins, will be fully operational by the end of the week.

These intelligent bins have sensors that detect how full they are and can later send e-mail or text message alerts to the cellphones of cleaners. The bins also have a compactor that can crunch rubbish so that the capacity of the smart bins can be eight times more than that of a normal bin.

The smart bins, which are imported from the United States, are also solar powered and self-sufficient when it comes to energy as they can store power for periods when there is no sunlight. The peak solar power capacity of one bin is 50 watt hour.

Shoppers will be able to log on to the bins' Wi-Fi network, which is provided by telco StarHub. The radius of a bin's Wi-Fi coverage is 30m. Shoppers can log in using their Facebook or Weibo accounts. They will be allowed to surf the Web for 15 minutes each time before they have to log in again.

The free Wi-Fi will be available from 11am to 9pm daily.

Advertisements from retailers located close by will pop up on their mobile devices screens every 15 minutes when logged in to the Wi-Fi network.

Mr Steven Goh, executive director of Orba, said the smart bin move can improve the environment, such as by reducing litter left on the ground by shoppers due to full bins. He added that the bins can also give retailers a way to promote their brands.

Mr Jason Kumar, co-founder of Terra Sol, said the bins will likely only need to be cleared once a day, thanks to their compacting feature, as opposed to the five to seven times a day currently.

A 125-litre Bigbelly smart bin with sensors will cost around $3,000. Add-ons such as compacting and Wi-Fi features come at an extra cost.

Terra Sol conducted previous trials at Changi Airport and Fusionopolis.

Another company, Otto Waste Systems, brings in smart bins from South Korea to Singapore that also have the ability to compact trash and send alerts on how full they are.

A 120-litre smart bin from Otto Waste Systems also starts from $3,000, while a normal street bin of the same size costs $120 to $130.

Otto Waste Systems said it started a one-month trial at the Singapore Management University this week with two bins.

It conducted previous trials at Changi Airport, Botanic Gardens, Sports Hub and Hong Kah North Community Club.

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