#bedowntown: Introducing Soofa, the new tech on Broad Street

From Block parties to entrepreneur dinners, we are creating a more vibrant downtown. The success of companies at FlatironCity is driven by their thirst for innovation, so we are thinking how IoT can contribute to the activation of a street. Fairlie Poplar’s new Boardwalk on Broad is packed at lunch bringing together professionals from the commercial district and students from GSU. It seems a perfect location to data mine by leveraging the most innovative IoT and Smart Cities technology to the happening in Atlanta.

Our vision for Broad Street is to leverage smart technology to create an inclusive and engaging environment on the boardwalk and downtown. After a recent visit to Spain, we were excited to see the Smart Cities work in Barcelona, which has ranged from sensors that measure air quality to energy efficient sensor activated street lights to real-time transit updates, all bolstered by free wi-fi across the city.

So, where do we jump in to start on this vision for a Smart Cities digital canvas downtown?

The Soofa board and benches! These solar powered, wireless devices are new to Broad Street. We talked with the Soofa team to hear more about the installation on Broad Street and the vision for it.

How did Soofa get started, and how did it come to ATL?

Soofa started at the MIT Media Lab in 2014 by 3 female co-founders with the idea that public spaces should be more welcoming and bring people together. We've since launched 3 products in 100+ cities around the country. As we were developing our 2nd product, the Soofa Sign, we put out a call for early adopters and the SmartATL team responded. With Atlanta's reputation for being a vibrant and progressive city, we were thrilled to get to work and have continued to grow the relationship with new projects.

How can a community interact with its’ Soofa board?

Along with the physical hardware, we have developed a content management system we call, Soofa Talk (https://talk.soofa.co/) our goal is to democratize public communication and give the community a platform to showcase local happenings, not just the next ad campaign from a mega-brand writing big checks. Plus, there's always the charging stations on the solar powered benches as well!

Soofa has done a lot with placemaking – what’s the vision for Broad Street and other neighborhoods in Atlanta?

Our vision is informed by the neighborhoods we deploy our products in, they evolve over time and mirror the current vibe of the community, each one is unique and we're excited to help them highlight the things that are important to them.

What’s your biggest success story?

We pride ourselves on being a small team, building exciting technology in an industry we're passionate about, but ultimately, we're only as successful as our partners. Our mission is realized when we see cities and towns nurturing their community and taking action using our products. Check out how Soofa boards have been used in Las Vegas here.

Let us know on twitter @flatironcity if you post to the Soofa board - We're excited to see this be a community communication portal for downtown.