City gets solar-powered park benches

Marty Walsh on an electric bench

Mayor is electrified by new bench in Titus Sparrow Park.

An MIT spinoff is installing benches equipped with solar-powered phone chargers - and air-quality and noise monitors - in several parks, the mayor's office says.

Changing Environment's "soofa" benches are going into Titus Sparrow Park in the South End, the Common and the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

"Your cell phone doesn’t just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?” the mayor asks in a statement.

Soofa map.

With any luck, the new installations will last longer than the heart-shaped heart monitors installed last September.



Free tagging: 


What's taking up half the bench?

...between Mahty and the unidentified woman? Will it work on a bench in the shade, or does one have to sit in the hot sun? Having to sit in the open sun is less of an issue for Big Belly solar powered trash cans than people who can get skin cancer or need to drink water and then find a trash bin not full to throw away the empty bottle.

Other than that, its a nice enough looking bench.

Thats the solar pack which

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Thats the solar pack which will provide the power to I assume batteries which will then inturn charge your phone via USB. So these benches will last as long as no one vandalizes the units on the actual benches.

A happy accident they act as you cant lie here and sleep deterrents.

How about bench warmers?

to warm the bench at night for sleeping or melt snow? This thing is another example of technology in search of a problem. I like having people's cell batteries run out - one less annoyance for the rest of us. For criminals, it advertises a cell phone or iPod to steal and a victim who's phone is dead and can't call 911.

Photo mix-up

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Due to an editing error, the wrong photo was used. That's actually, one of the old coal-fired park benches. We regret the error.

The homeless population will

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The homeless population will love this. No more hot-wiring street lights to recharge their phones or other electronics.

Good idea, but looks like

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Good idea, but looks like poor implementation. I think a solar panel "umbrella" would be more effective.

Nice idea

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But this will be something else that will break and will sit broken for months before its removed or fixed.

Anyone know if the city will maintain these or will an outside vendor?

So what ever happened with

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So what ever happened with those de-luxe public toilet stalls Mumbles installed? Let's not get all high-tech-y when you cant even provide a dumper.

Noise monitors

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helpful, but only if BPD or someone (Inspectional Services?) plans to enforce noise ordinances.

Are they protected from "juice jacking" ?

What most people don't realize is that a lot of USB powered "smart devices" are configured to start syncing data automatically when they find the proper connection. This is fantastic when you want to sync at home but ... it also opens up lots of opportunities for bad folks to molest your phone/tablet and potentially compromise it. There are already known/public attacks where malware has been distributed by compromised "charging" systems.

Just remember to practice good USB hygiene and remember that USB does way more than allow for a recharge when you connect it.

Krebs had a good writeup on it and "USB condoms" that allow power to go down the wire but disconnect the pins and leads used for data transfer:

Air Quality?

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Is that another way of saying "If you light up any non-approved substances, we'll know immediately and then dispatch someone to arrest and/or fine you?"

Or is the machine just programmed to say "Oh, man! Who died?" when some poor wino lets off a fart?