BOSTINNO – There has been a rise of urban tech companies over the past decade. They’re some of the largest venture capital investments. According to CityLabs, urban tech investment more than doubled from less than $20 billion to $44 billion between 2016 and 2017.
SMART CITIES DIVE — The Boston-based startup and Ford challenge winner aims to prove that a social and sustainable city is just as important as a "smart" one.
In 2014, three female co-founders from the MIT Media Lab and Harvard Graduate School of Design launched Soofa, a tech company focused on bringing smart, citizen-centric and solar-powered infrastructure to cities across the globe.
GOV TECH — Beating out more than 130 proposals, Soofa has won a challenge by Ford Motor Co. to improve mobility in Miami-Dade County, Fla. — and $50,000 to go along with it.
Soofa, which makes solar-powered benches and informational display signs, is one of two winners of the Miami-Dade challenge in Ford’s City of Tomorrow program. Soofa plans on putting up its signs — which use the same kind of e-ink displays found in e-readers — in up to three neighborhoods in the county.
ATLANTA INNO — With unlimited content in our digital age, getting the word out in a community is a much more difficult task, especially in a metro like Atlanta.
Enter Soofa, the MIT-born startup bringing smart signs to urban neighborhoods in a trend to make smart cities happen. The Cambridge-based company has recently deployed signs in two Atlanta neighborhoods, Little Five Points and the Old Fourth Ward, with a few signs around co-working space FlatironCity. Soofa plans to debut in Inman Park, Ponce City Market, Kirkwood, East Atlanta Village and further downtown, according to Soofa CEO and Co-Founder Sandra Richter.
XCONOMY — Should a bench be more than just a place to sit? For Soofa and its customers, the answer is yes.
The Cambridge, MA-based startup makes solar-powered, sensor-equipped benches that double as charging stations for phones and other devices. These “smart” benches can also help municipalities and other partners measure the amount of activity in parks, bus stops, public plazas, and other communal spaces, the company says. Soofa also makes signs that it bills as the “bulletin board of the 21st century.” The solar-powered, Internet-connected signs have digital displays that provide real-time info to passerby about public transit and local events, as well as run advertisements.
BOSTINNO — You may have seen Soofa’s smart benches and signs in Kendall Square and Faneuil Hall, and they’re certainly neat to look at. Plus, the signs can provide helpful information, such as MBTA arrival times, directions to nearby attractions and local event listings. The benches let you charge your smartphone. But is that all there is to Soofa?
While the Cambridge-based startup is putting a modern spin on city amenities, there’s a lot more happening under the hood, with the goal of using sensor data collected by the benches and signs to help cities with urban planning. The MIT-born startup, which raised a $2.5 million seed round from local venture capital firms Underscore.VC, Accomplice and Pillar last year, also has big ideas of how these modern amenities can transform spaces.
ENGADGET — Smart cities of tomorrow will run on information, with various pieces of connected urban infrastructure all sharing data amongst themselves. But what sharing information amongst the citizenry? That's where the Soofa Sign, a community bulletin board for the 21st century, comes in.