Solar-Powered Benches to Be Installed at City Parks

Sit down, charge your phone, and take in the scenery.

Simply sitting down at a park bench is boring, so Mayor Marty Walsh and a company spun out of the MIT Media Lab decided to make the experience more interesting.

Soon, select parks throughout the city will be affixed with “Soofas,” which are solar-powered benches that allow people passing through to stop and enjoy them while also charging their electronic devices.

“Your cell phone doesn’t just make phone calls, why should our benches just be seats?” said Walsh in a statement.

Leaning on the power-house players in the tech sector that live and work in Boston, Walsh’s office of New Urban Mechanics teamed up with Changing Environments, makers of Soofa, to install the benches at Titus Sparrow Park in the South End, Boston Common, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway.

Not only do the seats offer people a place to get some extra juice for their mobile devices, they also collect data about the environment around them.

On Soofa’s website, visitors can get information about how many people have visited the bench in a single day, how many people have walked past it, what the air quality is like in a specific park, and how loud it is in the area. So if they are looking for a quiet place to take a rest while charging a phone, they can locate the most welcoming bench based on the data available online.

Once Boston’s benches are up and running, those statistics will be provided online. The Soofa map showing statistics about each bench can be found here. Soofas are also going up at Babson and MIT, and one was piloted on the Greenway in 2013.

The city is eyeing an additional park to place one more Soofa, but they are leaving it up to residents to decide where it should go. By visiting the city’s website, and dropping a pin on the map, bench-users can vote on that location.