The $1M/month revenue generating fountain each smart city should have.

What if smart cities can have fountains generating revenue instead of costing money? App Stores on Fountains, one of the many crazy ideas we demoed on MWC, that can come true shortly…

Say IoT and lots of people will bring up Smart Cities. Ask them what is so exciting about Smart Cities and they will talk about saving costs on water, waste collection, solving parking problems and more. Ask them about the business case for investing millions into automating a city and the return on investment discussion becomes more blurry. But what about this financial proposal: invest very few and convert a fountain from a cost centre into a small revenue generator, invest a bit more and it will become a $1M/month revenue generator. Which message do you think the CFO of a City Council understands best?

Converting a fountain into a revenue generator and lower maintenance costs?

The basic idea to make money is to do away with timers or always on fountains and to substitute them by coin machines. Put a coin and the fountain works for some seconds or minutes. Tourists can now take the perfect picture and don’t have to wait.

You don’t want to connect a cable from the coin machine to the fountain so you need to use wireless technologies like LoRa. Below you can see how Pycom.io‘s Lopy was used to remotely communicate with the fountain. Skyfield.io build the solution on top of their LoRa platform. Cloudplugs was used for the edge integration and cloud solution. The hardware, software and services costs are paid back very quickly.

From here you could also add chlorine & PH sensors and automate the maintenance of the fountain. Via App Logic Controllers like the Revolution Pi or the UniPi you can control the fountain as well as its maintenance systems. The integration with Salesforce’s IoT Cloud we showed at MWC can be extended to also control the supply of Chlorine and other products as well as to dispatch maintenance crews when the fountain needs maintenance. We showed how each city has real-time dashboards on how much money the fountains are making.

Earning $1M/month?

Via the Dell IoT Edge 3000 Gateways you can put a complete app store on the fountain. Light effects and laser allow fountains to be converted into digital signage:

Why would anybody want to pay a $1,000 to put a 1 minute message on the fountain?


Having a picture taken with a personalised message: “Will you marry me?” is worth easily a $1,000 to the one asking. Chances are the grandchildren will still hear about that picture every weekend when they visit grandpa. Where would be the obvious place for this fountain? Las Vegas the Bellagio:

At least 1,000 couples can have the “Will You Marry Me?” message during one minute written on the fountain every month. This will make it into the $1M/month fountain.

On MWC we also had Iota showing next-generation blockchain and fast no-fees distributed ledgers. The accounting system for our smart fountains can not be tampered with. Iota also brought smart contracts to the smartest fountain of MWC17. Why do you want smart contracts and app stores? To automate the publicity on the fountain and let different companies bid just like AdWords but now for FountainWords. Additionally you want other types of apps on the fountain. For the Bellagio the obvious one is gambling. What can you gamble on? In the case of the marriage proposal: “Is she going to say Yes or No?”. You can easily take it further and gamify the fountain. Why not make every fountain part of global games. A treasure hunt whereby you need to have people that are in Las Vegas tell you what Pokemon is shown on the fountain. At the end an app store, smart contracts, ALCs, LoRa, Clouds, and more can make fountains into a multi-billion generating new business. In years to come people will refer to Mobile World Congress 2017 as the place where you could see the smartest fountain concept first before Pokemon and gamblers took it global. Ubuntu: Software-defined everything – learn more about it here.

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Maarten Ectors is responsible at Canonical for Internet of Things, the next-generation of networking and cloud solutions that are in proximity of the user or at the edges of the network. Previously he was strategy director for cloud, big data and IoT. Maarten reports to Mark Shuttleworth, the founder of Canonical.

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