High-tech benches could come to Hill

August 8, 2014
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Some Boston parks are testing new high-tech park benches that might come to Mission Hill.

The “Soofa,” as the bench is termed, is a bench that includes a solar-powered charging station for cell phones and computers. It also collects and shares location-based information like air quality and noise level data. The benches were produced by MIT and are funded by the multinational technology corporation Cisco Systems.

Produced by an MIT partnership, the benches were deployed in green spaces around town late last month, including on Boston Common and on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, and the City is already looking at expanding their distribution.

The City requested suggestions for locations through a now-closed online and Twitter poll. Dozens of locations all over the city, including in Mission Hill, were suggested before the poll closed July 11.

Potential Mission Hill locations, suggested by the public, include Marcella Playground, Highland Park and Mission Hill Playground.

“We’re looking to have final locations selected [and] installed by the end of the summer,” Gabrielle Farrell, of the Mayor’s Press Office, told the Gazette. Two additional Soofas will be installed as part of the pilot, she added.

“Your cell phone doesn’t just make phone calls. Why should our benches just be seats?” Mayor Martin Walsh said in a release. “We are fortunate to have talented entrepreneurs and makers in Boston thinking creatively about sustainability and the next generation of amenities for our residents.”

Soofas are also being piloted at Babson College and at MIT.

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