Dubai: Dubai Municipality plans to double the number of free WiFi Smart Palm stations to 103.
It had earlier said around 50 stations, which provide free wireless internet access in public parks and beaches, would come up over the course of the year.
The scale-up was announced during the official launch of Smart Palms at the Umm Suqeim 2 public beach near the Burj Al Arab hotel on June 4.
Dubai Municipality Director-General Hussain Lootah said the project would cover all public beaches in Dubai by the end of this year.
In April, the first Smart Palm sprouted near gate six of Zabeel Park, followed by an installation in May on Umm Suqeim 2 beach.
The Smart Palm will also take root in Dubai Creek Park, Al Mamzar Park and Al Barsha Pond Park.
Each station, standing six metres tall in the shape of a date palm tree, can support 50 users at a time within a range of 100 metres. It has also eight phone recharging points, multimedia screens, a public announcement system and even a selfie camera.
Smart Palm says online that its real-time data collection system is registering an average of 260 internet users and an average of 31 devices charging per day.
Lootah said the initiative supports Dubai’s transformation into a Smart City and the UAE Year of Innovation 2015 drive.
Alya Harmoudi, Director, Environment Department, Dubai Municipality, said the stations were eco-friendly as they used only solar power and efficient lighting at night.
Each Smart Palm, developed in association with D Idea Media company and UAE telecom provider Du, is linked to a central control centre and monitored round the clock. It also features a digital user-guide called Smarty.
“We are already in talks to expand the project locally before the end of 2015 and we hope to expand regionally in the Gulf region and then around the world,” the municipality said in a statement on Saturday.
The project took just ten months from conception to delivery of the finished product. After receiving its patent, Smart Palm began working with its partners who each contributed towards the overall functionality of the product.
Alya added that the stations can also display updates on events and activities on the beach and serve as a public announcement system. They also show beach rules, guidelines, tips, first-aid info, and sea conditions.
She had earlier said public beaches have become a major destination for hundreds of thousands of people each year.
Over the past year, the municipality has spent almost Dh100 million on beach and shoreline development projects. Smart Palms are the latest service to be added to a list of amenities for beachgoers, Lootah said.