Hastings’ town centre projector has been coupled with one of the town’s high-definition CCTV cameras to help Covid-isolated families share birthday wishes all the way from Australia.
The projector was bought in 2019 by Love Hastings – the company funded by the town’s Business Improvement District – to put messages of Christmas cheer onto the wall above Costa Coffee in the town centre.
Last year, after Hastings Borough Council was forced to cut the service that monitored its own cameras, Love Hastings began to install its own ultra-HD CCTV system to provide reassurance to shops and visitors alike. This was done largely with funding from the local Community Safety Partnership.
Now, with the latest lockdown preventing parties and get-togethers, the projector and one of the cameras are being used to help isolated families celebrate birthdays and share their messages across a live Facebook video stream.
John Bownas, Manager of Love Hastings, said: “The original idea came from the partner of a local musician – Dennis Preston – who had the idea of surprising him with a birthday message.
“It was easy to do because the projector runs off a 4G connection, meaning we can update the content remotely from anywhere and at any time.
“I had the idea of pointing one of our CCTV cameras at where the projections are screened so I could let him see the message on a live Facebook video feed without having to leave home. We effectively turned the CCTV camera into a webcam.”
Since the first birthday broadcast only a week-or-so ago Love Hastings has been inundated with requests for more messages – and the first of these was for a message that connected families on opposite sides of the globe, as a birthday wish came in from Brisbane, Australia.
John said: “The response to this free offer of the use of our projector has been amazing. I’m getting e-mails every day and it’s moved on from birthdays to Valentines wishes and memorials to lost loved-ones.”
“I’m going to have to set up a proper booking system to manage demand!” For more information on how to get a message to someone in your life go to www.lovehastings.com/#projection