State-of-the-art 'Street Hubs' set to replace phone boxes in Lancaster city centre

Lancaster looks set to get two new ‘street hubs’ in place of old telephone boxes which will allow people to make free calls, access free WiFi and information and charge their phones.

By Michelle Blade
Tuesday, 2nd August 2022, 12:30 pm

The street hubs would be situated outside 32 - 34 Penny Street Lancaster (Marks and Spencer store) and on the footpath outside the entrance to St Nicholas Arcades car park on Church Street.

On the planning application for two street hubs it says the hubs are free to use, fully accessible community assets connecting and improving local streets in urban areas.

They provide communities with Ultrafast public and encrypted Wi-Fi, access to public services, multiple accessibility options, secure power-only USB ports for rapid device charging, free phone calls, direct 999 call button, and can display community and emergency messaging (i.e police).

One of the street hubs is planned to be sited next to St Nicholas Arcades car park on Church Street in Lancaster.

They are powered by 100% renewable carbon-free energy, inspected weekly and cleaned at least every two weeks, and monitored 24/7.

The street hubs also have environmental sensors to measure air quality, noise, traffic and more.

They provide direct access to charities through the use of the dedicated charity icon on the fully accessible interactive tablet and have a community notice board with over 1,000 hours of content per year – the Street Hub team can work with local groups to promote events and activities.

The hubs provide discount advertising for local business groups (such as BIDs and Chambers of Commerce) and their members through the Street Hub Partners Programme

One of the street hubs is planned to be sited outside Marks and Spencer on Penny Street, Lancaster.

Business rates for each location are paid when requested by the council, ensuring Street Hubs make an ongoing financial contribution to the local area.

Street Hubs have been designed to be accessible to all users, regardless of their physical or technological capabilities, including:

*Tablet interface placed at 1m to provide easy access for wheelchair users

*Easy-touch 999 call button to ensure it can be used regardless of mobility restriction

An example of a street hub.

*High-contrast large type labels

*TalkBack functionality facilitates full access to the tablet for all users

*Hearing induction loops integrated into each unit

*Intuitive touch screen interface.

Every Street Hub includes a fully accessible interactive tablet that provides a series of icons that give users access to:

Local council services

One touch connection to four national charities for support

BT’s phone book

Local weather information

Maps and wayfinding

FAQs and instructions

Local advertisers are encouraged to give simple directions to their businesses.

Every Street Hub includes a direct 999 call button that automatically shares its location with the authorities, improving safety in an area and helping in the reporting of crime and disorder.

A two-push approach reduces the chance of accidental calls, with a voice prompting users to push the button a second time to confirm.

Street Hubs can also support campaigns with local police and other authorities.

Groups such as the police can quickly display emergency and community awareness messaging

In the event of an emergency or major event, regular content can be replaced with urgent, useful messaging alerting the public to major incidents and offering advice.

The installation of the street hubs has yet to be decided upon but planning applications have been submitted to Lancaster City Council.