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Jun. 21, 2013

New York Parks Now Have Free Solar-Powered Charging Stations

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Imagine you’re taking a walk in the city and your cellphone starts ringing. It’s your mom/boss/partner/landlord and you know you absolutely must take this call but that evil “low-battery” message has a different plan. So what do you do, with no chargers around?

Thanks to a partnership between the Bloomberg administration and telecommunications provider AT&T, New Yorkers can now enjoy improved connectivity in their day-to-day lives. The “AT&T Street Charge” initiative has provided 25 solar powered charging stations located across all five boroughs where people can charge their cellphones, tablets and other mobile devices. The first solar charging units were installed in Riverside Park and Union Square in Manhattan, and along the Pier 1 promenade at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

AT&T teamed up with solar technology company Goal Zero and Pensa, a Brooklyn-based design firm, to create these seven-foot tall poles, each of them featuring three, 15-watt solar panels on top and offering iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 connections, microUSB ports for Android and Windows phones and regular USB ports for other devices. Each solar charging unit is able to fully charge around 30 mobile devices before running out of power and can be used free of charge by anyone, no matter what telecom company they use. According to Mashable, the poles are equipped with 168 watt-hour batteries, which allow the chargers to operate for days even if the weather is bad and there is little or no exposure to the sun.

The “AT&T Street Charge” initiative took shape naturally after Superstorm Sandy left large residential areas in the city with no power for several days and the telecom company stepped in with commercial generators and pop-up cellular service that allowed users to juice up their devices and communicate. The 25 solar charging poles will operate in various locations across New York City as a test until this fall and—if they prove to be a success—the initiative will be expanded to other major cities.

Images courtesy of AT&T

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