Comment: Tech does wonders for bus stops

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imagine waiting for the train home and being able to order your shopping from a virtual supermarket on the platform.

The “store” is in fact an interactive screen showing images of a shelf stocked with bread, milk and all your everyday essentials. All you have to do is scan the QR code on the pictures using your smartphone and the item will be delivered to your house that night. Simple as that, takes the pain out of the supermarket shop after a hard day at work.

Sound far-fetched? Well, it is a reality today, in Seoul, where commuters use it in their thousands every night.

It might be hard to imagine doing the same at Waverley, Haymarket or your local tram stop.

But Korea is showing what is possible by making the kind of everyday technologies that exist in most of our homes and work places available in public places.

The main driver for the southeast Asian country’s sustained investment in hi-tech infrastructure, such as ultra-fast fibre cables and a free public wi-fi network, was not to make life easier for commuters but to facilitate the needs of modern businesses. The benefits for the general public have been a happy, if deliberately realised, by-product.

Smart bus stops may be a small step but they are part of that same journey and are just one benefit from the city’s willingness to invest in modern communication infrastructure.

The bus stop screens could be used to tell you all kinds of useful information like the location of the nearest loo that is open to the public.

Seoul uses the same kinds of networks to do everything, from alerting carers when a loved one with Alzheimer’s wanders out of an agreed safe zone to enabling its citizens to report potholes and track the progress of their complaint via their smart phone.

Smart bus stops? A gimmick? Not at all. Welcome to the future.