Texting with a bridge or a bench? That's what Summerside wants you to do

Around the city of Summerside there are about 30 inanimate objects you can text messages to — and get responses back.

The information gathering and dissemination is done through a U.K. company

There are a total of 12 partners in the project including the College of Piping and Spinnakers Landing along with the city itself. (City of Summerside)

Around the city of Summerside there are about 30 inanimate objects you can text messages to — and get responses back.

Residents or visitors can walk up to certain benches, lampposts, bridges and shelters, and on those objects are signs with a phone number and code to which people can text back and forth. 

It's all part of a pilot project with a U.K. based company called Hello Lamp Post.

The idea is for the texting conversations to both deliver information about Summerside — its businesses and services — as well as to glean information and opinions from those residents and visitors. 

CBC texted back and forth with a shelter on the boardwalk. (CBC)

That information is provided by, and also given back to, a total of 12 partners including the College of Piping and Spinnakers Landing as well as the city itself.

For example, there is a sign on a lamppost outside of city hall.

"If you send a text message according to the instructions on the sign that object will have a conversation with you," said Neil Moore a research analyst with the economic development department with the city of Summerside.

Moore said the lamppost might text you to ask how you got to city hall or about the Summerside tax rate, roadways or city infrastructure. 

The objects around city hall provide and ask for information the city wants to give and gather, but if you text other signed objects like the shelter on the boardwalk, the messages may be about lifestyle, or green space.

The texts may also give information about local attractions or sight seeing spots.

"Each object has a slate of information and a slate of questions to ask anybody that texts it," Moore said.

City hopes to attract company's HQ 

The project was started under Summerside's Living Lab initiative which allows companies to test ideas and products and provides an easy way to transition into a new marketplace, Moore said.

"It has drawn in companies around the world to partner with us in some way."

The Hello Lamp Post project launched on 28. 

There are 30 locations around the city for the project. (Submitted by Neil Moore)

After someone has a conversation with an object all of the information is sent to the participating partner, Moore said.

"Our first reporting checkpoint was 10 days in and at that point there had been 3,300 messages from 375 unique users."

Moore said the pilot project will last six months and a final report is expected just after the New Year.

He said the hope is that the company may set up a headquarters in Summerside in the future.

The city has not yet confirmed how much or whether it is paying for the service.

More P.E.I. news

With files from Jessica Doria-Brown


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