SF Keeping the MuniFi Dream Alive at Bus Stops

Thanks to a housing crisis and the ensuing economic meltdown, many U.S. cities decided to back off their original Municipal Wi-Fi plans. San Francisco, however, was seen as the epicenter of the municipal revolution. Unfortunately that never happened and all we have is a handful of free network rollouts, including the Free The Net SF run by San Francisco-based hardware maker, Meraki.

Now comes word that by 2013, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency will install 360 new bus stops powered by solar panels that will, in turn, power Wi-Fi routers and digital information panels, with any unused energy being pumped into the city’s grid. Popular Mechanics reports:

  • San Francisco’s high-tech bus stops will channel an estimated 43,000 kilowatt-hours per year into the city’s grid. Built-in Wi-Fi routers will help the city create a comprehensive wireless Internet network.
  • Each bus stop costs about $30,000. City officials say Clear Channel Outdoor has an installation and maintenance contract with the SFMTA. The company foots the bill and gets saleable ad space.
  • The new shelters’ LED lights use 74.4 watts—four and a half times more efficient than the 336 watts used by the old shelters’ fluorescent lighting.

I checked with my colleagues over at Earth2Tech and they tell me the whole thing looks quite plausible and that the 43,000 kilowatt-hours being pushed back into the city grid isn’t too over the top. I wonder how much the fog and cloud cover will impact the actual performance of this system. (Hat tip, Kimo)

Photo courtesy of Popular Mechanics. Click on the image to be taken to the Popular Mechanics web site.