Victoria Square and Rundle Mall will each host a Street Charge unit – which you have to stand next to, in order to charge your device – while North Terrace will feature a Soofa smart bench (with USB ports, but BYO charging cable).
The three units would cost a total of about $26,000 (although the council’s administration has the option to choose the Soofa, rather than the Street Charge in Victoria Square, in which case the cost would reduce by about $3000).
In addition, the council will buy 10 ChargeBar units – metal panels with charging cables and a phones slot – for council-owned buildings, including the Adelaide Central Market, the Adelaide Aquatic Centre, Golf Links, the visitor information centre and the Pirie Street customer centre, costing a total of $16,000.
North ward councillor Sue Clearihan told last night’s council meeting a charged smartphone was vital for most people using the city, and that a dead phone could be a safety risk.
“Over 80 per cent of adults are walking around with smartphones,” she said.
“We can just run out of power and it’s a huge inconvenience (… especially) if you’ve missed your bus.
“Smart cities everywhere are installing these (charging stations).”
But south ward councillor Alex Antic argued the units would be vulnerable to vandalism.
While they “sound good on paper”, they were a waste of money in practise, he said.
Central ward councillor Houssam Abiad – a former owner of mobile phone repair company DigiMob – agreed, claiming the charging stations would soon be obsolete.
It was “technology that’s going to be thrown in the bin soon … something that, in no time, will disappear,” he said, adding that phone companies were moving towards wireless charging methods.
“I’ve seen the industry – it changes every three months,” he said.
Asked to clarify the units’ capabilities, council technology expert Sonjoy Ghosh told the meeting the Street Charge units were able to be updated with the “latest and greatest” charging cables and the Soofa units required the user to bring their own cord.
Abiad suggested the council instead “go out and buy 100 chargers at $20 a pop” and supply them to city businesses for customer use.
However, Clearihan argued city visitors often needed to charge their phone out of business hours, and that many – especially people experiencing homelessness – would benefit from charging infrastructure that didn’t require the spending of money to access.
“I really don’t think we have to worry too much about phones that are self-charging,” she added.
The motion passed the council chamber, opposed by Abiad, Antic and area councillor Anne Moran.
Same-sex marriage debate shut down
Also last night, the council voted to indefinitely suspend debate over whether to support the same-sex marriage ‘Yes’ campaign in the federal government’s postal survey.
Deputy Lord Mayor Sandy Verschoor argued the council should join 52 others around the country, including several capital city councils, in endorsing a ‘Yes’ vote.
But Antic moved to “lay the matter on the table” – a procedural manoeuvre to abruptly end the debate – which won majority support.
Place your Betts
The council also voted to display Adelaide Crows colours on the balcony of Town Hall on King William Street, as well as on the Rundle Lantern, ahead of the AFL Grand Final clash with Richmond on Saturday.
Antic said it was important that the council “shows its support” for “the city’s best team”.
It follows a more amateur effort in Rundle Mall, as popular local Instagram account ShitAdelaide documented yesterday:
Central Ward councillor David Slama voted against the motion.
On the verge of council prize money
A $10,000 prize pool will be established to reward residents that maintain the city’s best nature strips and verges.
The city council already provides funding for plants and mulch on nature strips, but south ward councillor Priscilla Corbell said there were examples of “greening” excellence in the CBD that should be encouraged.
The prize pool will be split among several winners in various categories.
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