Over the past year, Randwick City Council has used smart-city technology to digitise the city and introduce emerging technology to public spaces. By implementing Yellowbox smart lockers at leisure and aquatic centres, as well as beaches, both locals and tourists had the opportunity to experience what engaging smart city technology feels like after using a yellowbox for the first time.
Yellowbox is an Australian startup, they were recently chosen from hundreds of companies to participate in the City of 2030 Smart Cities Accelerator this year held in Amsterdam. Their innovation of combining an easy to use app with a secure method of storing belongings was key to their success within the accelerator.
The principle of the app is simple - when a person opens up the Yellowbox app, they see a map of all council venues that have the bright yellow lockers - yellowboxes. They can then reserve and open their locker seamlessly through the app, with the option to store their phone as well, by setting a custom keypad code. It is a more accessible system than the dated “key and lock” way of storing belongings.
Free from their burdens and peace of mind that their valuables were safe meant people could now relax, enjoy their activity and stay for longer in public spaces. The council themselves have been pleased, the head of the smart city development, Anthony Collis stating:
“Yellowbox lockers are one of the most visible smart city initiatives we’ve done for residents and visitors to our beaches and aquatic centres.”
Yellowbox also ticked quite a few boxes that were apart of Randwick Smart City strategy:
- Easy access to technology (smart-lockers) upon entering the facility using simply your smartphone with no need for cards or keys
- Knowledge of how many lockers were vacant at a time thus improving asset management and utilisation
- Ensuring the safety of visitors with a high level of security features
After tripling the number of lockers at Coogee Beach, going from 20 lockers last November to 60 mid-2020, Yellowbox rolled out a further 25 units to Maroubra Beach and 45 to the Des Renford Leisure Centre.
Another significant improvement for the Council was receiving data from Yellowbox about how frequently lockers were utilised and observing community engagement.
On average, each person used a yellowbox 2.4 times, spreading 920 users over 2240 bookings, an achievement gained with virtually no paid marketing. The vibrant presence of yellowboxes and the self-serve nature of the product is what generated the community uptake and positive experience ratings.
A large portion of users became repeat customers, with over 400 experience ratings from Randwick users with the current average rating of 90%.
One of the largest issues in the smart city space has been building community awareness of projects and initiatives. It doesn’t help that awareness is also incredibly hard to measure. We can assume all the people who have used a yellowbox are aware, however, we’re missing all the people who know about yellowbox but just haven’t been in a position to use one yet.
A 12-month user growth forecast using the 23% rate puts the number of users of Yellowbox lockers at 13,000, which is 85% of Coogee’s population. That would be an incredible amount of community engagement and awareness to achieve.
Overall, Yellowbox has worked closely with Randwick City Council to provide easy to use, highly demanded product. The future of digitalisation of cities is undoubtedly something to look forward to.