A ‘Smart Bridgetown’, involving free Internet access, computer-controlled parking and a mobile guide for tourists, is “a few months away”, the Minister for Smart Technology has declared.
Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology Senator Kay McConney told the Senate: “There will be three basic aspects of our Smart Bridgetown. First, it is free access for internet access for Bridgetown.
“Second is smart parking on streets adjoining Broad Street and the third the mobile app that will facilitate tourism engagement.
“I heard others say there is a need for us to engage tourists in a meaningful way especially those coming out of the port.”
The Senator explained that the process will not only take time but money.
She said: “To provide free wifi for a City is expensive.
“However, we are committed we have determine that we will design and build in adequate capacity to ensure that there is a good user experience.
“As you know if there isn’t a good user capacity what happens is when you log on it takes too long and you get logged off.
“So we are taking our time to design and build a network where we believe it is working for the capacity we expect to have here in Bridgetown.
“Persons, through that wifi, will have access to basic services they will be able to browse, watch videos, access their emails and be on social media.”
On smart parking, she said the ministry is working in conjunction with two other Government departments.
Senator McConney explained: “There will be sensors and geo tagging for the parking spots in town.
“You will be able to detect where the free parking spots are.
“We have started working with the Royal Barbados Police Force and the Lands and Surveys Department and together we have identified those streets in Bridgetown where the first pilot of the small parking will begin.
“We have mapped out the area that will be the first area for coverage.”
McConney said the mobile app was being developed by the Barbados Tourism Product Authority (BTPA).
“The Barbados Tourism Product Authority has already started its work on a mobile app that using the free wifi and active mobile will be able to add value to the experience of the tourists who are connected to the system.
“We are moving to create hot spots [in an] area where you have very high speed access green spaces and you can create social interaction in those areas.”
The Minister said the work being done in Bridgetown is all part of Government’s bigger plan to make Barbados a smart country.
McConney said Government is committed to providing universal access to a minimum threshold of high-speed broadband internet as a means of powering the new national digital economy smart cities and smart Barbados.
“We have to build out the Smart Barbados in phases and we wanted to start with our capital city.”