Each unit costs around £30,000 to make and install, but Vickers says that cities essentially get them for free as the company is more focused on reaping the advertising revenue potential they hold. “We use them as an advertising platform as a way to generate revenue, so the city technically gets them for free and then we use them as a way of streaming content to the local area,” Vickers explained.
Vickers says the receptacles run on a 3G network which streams content from their office directly to the bins. Each bin also operates on an individual basis, which enables cities to use them for a variety of different purposes. “For example, we have the (London) marathon coming up so there will be safety messages on there and they can also use it for local information such as road closures or those sorts of things that would be happening,” he says.
But even the most effective receptacles can be defeated — especially if the maximum specifications are there for everyone to see. This is where vendors of anti-terrorism technologies must police themselves in the name of public safety, Haber says. “We need better policies to stop divulging sensitive, unclassified security information that can be used against us,” he says. “Terrorists can gather their intel from these procurement and marketing documents — all they have to do is do their homework. Maybe make a rule among procuring agencies that if a vendor divulges this spec information — the secret sauce that the terrorists can use to defeat an anti-terrorism technology — then they are banned from government contracts.”