Park benches are a place to relax and take in the world as it walks by. In New York City though, these resting places are no longer just a place to recharge yourself, but also your smart devices.
Smart benches have been rolled out by the city as part of its ‘Smarter Parks’ initiative which is designed to improve the park experience. These benches will serve as charging stations and Wi-Fi hotspots, registering how many accounts use it throughout the day.
This data will be monitored by the city to see how the service can be improved, and how parks can be better designed and maintained. The city anticipates that the data will help it arrange cleaning schedules and identify issues with foot traffic flow and identify areas that would be best at hosting events and performances.
To power the benches and ultimately the devices, solar power panels will be installed. Design firm Soofa built the benches, which have debuted in Manhattan and the Bronx and will soon expand to all five boroughs pending the success of the pilot program.
Soofa installed similar benches in Boston, Mass. In 2014 and has since expanded to 100 cities, according to the company website.