NEWMARKET, ONT. — Following the unveiling of its first Soofa solar-powered bench in 2016, the Town of Newmarket Ont. is expanding its network with eight additional units throughout the downtown area and will become the first municipality in Canada to be part of the Soofa Beta Cities network.
The Soofa Bench charges mobile devices using solar power, while creating a social space for neighbours to gather, states a release issued by the Town of Newmarket.
The expanded Soofa program enables Newmarket to join the Soofa Beta Cities network of over 100 cities along with a number of major cities in the U.S., including New York, Boston, Austin, Los Angeles and more. Newmarket is the first municipality in Canada to be a part of the network.
“Soofa is thrilled to expand into Canada with our data product,” said Sandra Richter, Soofa’s CEO and co-founder, in a statement.
“Newmarket has been a fantastic partner along the way and understands the impact and insight that technology and data can provide in building a smart, responsive and resourceful community.”
The new Soofa Pro Benches include sensors that passively listen for wifi enabled devices (like smartphones), allowing the town to gather analytics without infringing on privacy, states the release.
The data collected will allow the town to better monitor how public spaces are being used.
It will also provide analytics that will help inform future plans for the community including increased economic development opportunities and enhanced service delivery.
All data collected is encrypted and remains completely anonymous, the release reads.
This initiative is a partnership between the Town of Newmarket, the Main Street District Business Improvement Area and Buckley Insurance.