‘Digital plaza’ coming to Oakland

By Elizabeth Lepro / Assistant News Editor

This fall, an organization will seek to install a high-tech art exhibition in Oakland.

Innovation Oakland, a project that aims to transform the streets of Oakland into a digital community, plans to complete the “21st Digital Plaza” by mid-October. The initiative will fill the corner of Forbes Avenue and South Bouquet Street with interactive art projects and community message boards. Project planners in the Oakland Business Improvement District say the installment is meant to bring excitement to the local community.

“The purpose is to liven up the corner and to transform corridors into smart corridors,” Georgia Petropolis, OBID executive director, said.

The Plaza will include several LED screens to display digital art canvases and promote events around Oakland. OBID will offer free Wi-Fi, energy-efficient, smart light poles and a bio-filtration sustainable rain garden that reduces rainwater runoff, according to OBID’s website.

OBID hired a contractor for the project in late June, according to Petropolis, and it completed most of the metal work in July and August. OBID will construct a fence around the property in late August and will begin construction after Pitt’s freshman orientation, with a final deadline set for the middle of October.

According to Petropolis, innovative technology must be “smart” if it is to help create a “digital community.”

The installment will display art submissions from local residents and students from neighboring campuses, including Pitt, Carlow University and Carnegie Mellon University.

Petropolis said Pitt has played a large part in construction of the space, including donating the site, though Pitt spokesman John Fedele said he couldn’t yet offer an official University comment.

Future plans for Innovation Oakland include a static traffic and pedestrian sign system, which will be able to direct traffic, as well as digital signage and interactive touchscreen kiosks.

“Everyone’s invested because it’s going to improve the business district,” Petropolis said. “As [we] see improvement and momentum, it’s going to benefit everyone.”

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