V-Pole Concept Could Put Vancouver on Bleeding Edge of Urban Technology

Canadian novelist Douglas Coupland wants city streets to be clear of cellphone towers, parking meters, wifi terminals, and streetlights. And the City of Vancouver is eager to turn his dream into a reality.

In what Douglas is touting as an “inevitable future,” an invention dubbed the “V-Pole” is making waves in Vancouver (the V is for Vancouver). The concept technology was unveiled at the New Cities Summit in Paris, where the telephone pole structure was shown to manage cell signals for multiple carriers and wireless internet for the surrounding neighbourhood. In essence, it’s an all-in-one technology, handling everything from lighting the streets to charging electric cars and displaying touchscreen maps.

“The wireless data game has changed,” said Coupland. “Data transmission is no longer something scary. Now you want it in front of your house.” 

Coupland was joined by Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson during the announcement. “Vancouver is a leader in urban innovation and we are always looking at ways to stay on the sharpest edge of technology,” said Robertson. “The V-Pole is an example of future-driven design for cities that we are excited to see.”

“The City of Vancouver is signaling its belief that the future is about smart, open-source technology,” added Coupland. “This is an inevitable technology and a massive entrepreneurial opportunity. Urbanites want what the V‑Pole provides. Now is the time for partnerships and alliances to begin. You would never think of building a house or office tower without electricity — in the same way, you would never think of developing future cities without V-Poles. In three years there will be thirty times more wireless data traffic than there is now. Unless we act quickly, our streets could be as cluttered as a kitchen junk drawer. No one wants that.”

“The V-Pole will do vastly more using a smaller footprint, anticipating the increasing utility needs of cities,” he explained. “It also provides a visually-compelling template reflecting the distinct character of neighbourhoods.”

“Enabling new generation communications, data and zero emission transportation is a key goal for Vancouver,” noted Robertson. “An idea like the V-Pole will drive the pace of innovation and spark creative partnerships between cities and utilities. This can make cities more efficient while delivering better services to citizens.”

“I’m not interested in this as a personal business venture,” Coupland concluded. “I’m presenting this only to get people thinking about the future. The V-Pole is a whole new way of approaching how we develop and democratize what can only be described as an inevitable force that’s headed towards us like an asteroid at full speed. And we can turn it into art.”