The perfect NYC day usually involves sunshine, a light breeze and of course, a fully-charged smartphone. The latest winner of NYC BigApps’ “Connected Cities” challenge takes care of the latter with technology that could add a free solar-powered charging hub to every NYC public park and plaza.

CityCharge is a circular mobile station with six charging ports, which use Bluetooth and beacon technology to gather environmental data and act as a wi-fi hotspot. Developed by Green Barrel Energy, CityCharge can monitor air quality, noise levels, and pedestrian traffic–all while giving users the necessary charge to finish another game of Candy Crush.

Designed by Ignacio Ciocchini, the industrial designer for Bryant Park, the station’s touchscreen will deliver content and hyper-local ads to citizens and visitors to help bring revenue to the City. In its first year, an estimated 130,000 people used the service in the park. 

Though it was designed for public spaces, the hubs are also commercially available, starting at around $8,400 each

Founder Tommy Mitchell explained that the project started as a technical solution for charging mobile devices, but ultimately expanded into a community-building initiative.

“We found that when people’s phones died they started actually talking to each other and connecting. So we wanted to expand beyond charging and now include a WiFi hotspot and environmental sensors,” he said. 

NYC Big Apps is a leading civic technology competition. Run by the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), BigApps challenges competitors to innovate in areas such as Affordable Housing, Zero Waste, Connected Cities and Civic Engagement, offering $25,000 cash prizes in each category. 

BuzzBuzzHome recently reported on another one of the winners,, an app that helps tenants track issues and streamlines communication with landlords.

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