News: Ontario News

Newmarket first in Ontario to introduce Soofa solar-powered bench that charges mobile devices

July 14, 2016  
Posted by: Jacqueline O'Hara
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On July 13, the Town of Newmarket unveiled its new Soofa bench - an innovative bench that charges mobile devices using solar power while providing the user with a social experience - at its highly acclaimed Riverwalk Commons, making the Town of Newmarket the first municipality in Ontario to have one.

"Today (July 13), we celebrate yet another important milestone in Newmarket's unique innovation and environmental sustainability stories," said Mayor Tony Van Bynen. "As a key focus of our Council, we will work together to revitalize and innovate Newmarket and will continue to seek opportunities to bring even more leading-edge technology and environmental sustainability programs and services to our community."

The solar-powered bench was featured as an up-and-coming technology at President Barak Obama's inaugural White House Maker Faire in June 2014 and was referred to as one of the "six wonders of the Maker Faire" in the Wall Street Journal. The first of its kind, the Soofa bench is the brainchild of three female entrepreneurs from the MIT Media Lab and Harvard University who came together with a vision for a sustainable, connected future.

In 2017, Newmarket's Soofa bench has the potential to be upgraded with sensors and detailed analytics to measure how much the bench is being used and will provide the data to the Town over a private cellular network. The next addition in Newmarket's Internet of Things repertoire, the bench's sensors will also measure how busy Newmarket's Riverwalk Commons is, making it easier for Town staff to find ways to continue to improve the public space.

With the installation of the bench, Newmarket now joins the Soofa Beta Cities network which includes New York City, Boston, Cambridge, Austin, LA and more, making Newmarket the first municipality in Canada to be a part of the network. Through the network, the Town of Newmarket will work with Soofa as an early adopter of leading-edge technology and will advise on new product development to solve problems facing cities and towns, big and small.

"At Soofa, our main goal is to make cities better for people through the implementation of technology," said Soofa CEO Sandra Richter. "To do so, we work closely with our network of partner cities to learn where the biggest opportunities are to innovate together. The Town of Newmarket is a great example of what we look for in a partner - super focused on innovation, sustainability and making its outdoor spaces as inviting as possible for its residents and visitors."

The Soofa Bench is in 18 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia, as well as Edmonton and three other countries.

To read the backgrounder, click here.

For more information :

Town of Newmarket
395 Mulock Dr
Newmarket, Ontario
Canada, L3Y 8P3