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Paris is turning 3,000 of its green benches ‘smart’

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Bluetooth beacons will monitor how much action the benches see

A path in a Parisian park is lined with a series of old green benches, surrounded by lawns and trees. There is a fountain to the right side. Getty Images/Glowimages RF

Gabriel Davioud couldn’t have imagined what was to come for his famous green benches. In the 1850s, the French architect designed the iconic green seating you see around Paris’ streets and parks, and in the intervening years, they haven’t changed much—until now.

Paris has plans to turn some 3,000 benches “smart” by embedding them with “beacons” that can track how many people rest their butts and for how long. The seemingly modest quest will provide Paris with otherwise hard-to-get information that will further its goal of becoming a connected city.

Forbes reports that the beacons will gather two types of information—passive and active. The passive beacons don’t require permission from passersby. Anytime a person with a bluetooth-enabled phone nears the benches they’ll be counted. The active data gathering will ping people who’ve downloaded the City of Paris app asking them location-based questions about their surroundings (We can think of a few: Are the lines bearable at the Eiffel Tower? Is the crepe cart in Jardin du Luxembourg worth €10?).

Paris has plans to install the beacons by the end of the year.