We all know that awkward and helpless feeling as the phone battery creeps faster and faster below the 20 and then 10 percent marks. But in New York City, residents of all five boroughs will be able to stay a tad more connected thanks to the rollout of free solar-powered mobile phone charging stations.
AT&T, the Bloomberg Administration and the solar technology company Goal Zero launched Solar Street Charge, a pilot program that will provide quick telephone recharging stations from the Bronx to Staten Island. By the end of this summer, AT&T will install 25 of its Street Charge stations at some of the city’s most popular–and crowded–sites, including beaches and parks.
According to an AT&T press release, the Street Charge program has its origins in the aftermath of last year’s Hurricane Sandy, when AT&T powered local distribution centers with commercial generators and pop-up cellular services. In the city that never sleeps, the chargers will offer a few extra moments of battery relief for residents who cannot find an outlet at the local Starbucks, nor want to trip other diners with their phone charging cords at restaurants. Most likely, local business owners will appreciate the fact they will have fewer trolls languishing in their workspace only because they needed a quick charging hit.
Naturally, reactions are all over the map. AT&T and its partners, of course, are patting themselves on the back for this “innovation” that will “improve the daily lives” of New Yorkers. Instagram will also be grateful for the additional selfie shots and close-ups of cheesecake that will add to that startup’s valuation. So what are others saying?
Engadget notes the whole point of the stations is to score that quick battery hit so people are connected as they traipse through the city. And while many of us lament how mobile devices have made many of us more socially inept, Bloomberg notes such public stations may actually push people to talk more with each other–they way travelers often do at airports around those coveted outlets and recharge stations. Plus, the stations would blunt that annoying electricity thievery that irks some business owners. SmartPlanet reminds us solar is becoming more and more part of daily life in NYC. Of course questions will arise about safety and security, especially at night. CIO groused the stations will become a hub for vandals and “hobos,” an odd assessment since no one had used that word since the 1970s.
In any event, the Street Charge stations will serve as a test bed from which cities will learn what works–and what does not work–as they seek to partner with businesses to provide services during a time of budgetary restraint, yet at the same time are more sustainable. If solar stations become better, cheaper and more seamless to implement in the long run, than this program will be a success while it makes solar more relevant in people’s daily lives.
Based in Fresno, California, Leon Kaye is the editor of GreenGoPost.com and frequently writes about business sustainability strategy. Leon also contributes to Guardian Sustainable Business; his work has also appeared on Sustainable Brands, Inhabitat and Earth911. You can follow Leon and ask him questions on Twitter or Instagram (greengopost).
[Image credit: AT&T]