Buckfastleigh residents and visitors may have noticed the appearance of a couple of TV screens appearing in shop windows in the town in recent months, which are displaying news and events in the town instead of TV programs. Currently these can be seen in J Searle & Son Electrical and the community hub run by pioneering well-being project, Be Buckfastleigh, the ‘Living Room’, both in Fore St.
These are the pilot screens for a plan by Andy Stokes of Buckfastleigh Town Council, to spread electronic noticeboards around the parish.
Andy says: “Over the last few years I have organised dozens of events locally and always find that the biggest problem is how to make sure people know about them. When we hold any event we always put up posters, put something in the newsletter, in the Mid Devon Advertiser, on the town website (buckfastleigh.gov.uk) and on Facebook and still there are people who say that they missed out because they didn’t know about it… and it can be so discouraging for the organisers if not many people turn up.
“There is so much going on in our community and I’m on a mission to make sure that no-one has to miss out on anything.”
Now the test period is over, the plan is to install several more screens around the parish in places where they will be seen and read. Anyone can now add their own events to the town website event diary here. These will automatically be displayed (once approved by a staff member) on the upcoming events list on the E-Noticeboards.
“I’ve made sure to do this in an energy-efficient way to reduce cost and environmental impact. By using only (second-hand) LED, low-energy screens and tiny Raspberry Pi computers, each E-Noticeboard uses less electricity than an old-fashioned light-bulb – that’s around 100w or less for a 40” screen, or around £40 per year – and costs just over a £100 to make. Once set up, I can program them from my computer to come on and off at whatever times make sense for the location and they will automatically update their content over the internet.”
Andy’s day job, when he’s not running the Town Council as Chair and Mayor of Buckfastleigh, is as an IT expert specialising in internet technologies, so he ‘had to have a go!’.
With the backing of the Town Council, the plan is to put these in public locations around the parish, so if you know of a good spot (they have to be indoors to avoid getting wet!) or would like to volunteer your premises, please get in touch with Andy via the Town Hall. All you need is an electrical socket and a WiFi connection and a space that people will be likely to see.