World's First Eco-Friendly 'Smart Street' Opens In London

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Located amidst one of the world's busiest shopping districts, Bird Street is the planet's first road to harvest the energy generated by people passing through.

One of the beautiful things about modern technology is how it is being used to build a sustainable future.

London, England, leaped ahead of the rest of the world by launching Bird Street, an alleyway off one of the world's most popular shopping districts that has been turned into the world's first "smart street," reports the Evening Standard.

Bird Street, commissioned by the New West End Company and Transport for London, was lined with Pavegen, a technology perhaps best described as "smart pavement." According to Curbed, the invention harvests the kinetic energy generated by people walking on it to generate power for LED lights and bird sounds.

Pedestrians are able to see how much energy they are generating via a mobile app and, in a bid for commerce, even get coupons for the stores they walk past. The end goal is to introduce people to the possibilities of sustainable energy, generate some profit for small businesses, and collect data.

“We are not ever going to replace solar or wind," explained Alex Johnson, head of communication at Pavegen to the Evening Standard. "But it is a useful bit of off grid energy and the key thing about it is that it is really engaging.”

Along with the Pavegen technology, the Energy Harvesting Journal reports that Airlabs ClearAir benches will also be installed to remove nitrogen dioxide from the air to create an unpolluted space for the public to enjoy. For densely-populated urban areas like London, this could mean green things moving forward as some communities work to reduce their emissions and make cities more healthy and sustainable.

The future is generally an intangible idea, which makes it easy to disengage from. However, when inventions like Pavegen are made accessible to the public, we get a better understanding of our role in it.

While Johnson alluded that places like Bird Street aren't going to power the nation (at least not right now), they do give people a powerful vision of what could be next and how people can participate.

Thumbnail Credit: Flickr, Steve Moses

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