Good morning Manchester, New Hampshire, and congratulations on becoming the first city in the state to bring in Smart City infrastructure in the form of a Soofa sign, which quietly arrived yesterday. This sign is installed outside of 848 Elm Street, adjoining the Cat Crosswalk and just steps from Diz’s Cafe and the Bookery Manchester, a locally owned independent bookstore. A formal ribbon cutting will take place on Wednesday, March 24 at 12 p.m.
Soofa is a woman-led company that launched out of MIT and Harvard in 2014 when I was still very much involved in and working within the Kendall Square community. Dean Kamen and I crossed paths down there, as did Jeremy Hitchcock, as technology leaders looked to predict and prepare for the future.
Back then, MIT had created a Senseable City Lab and was deeply engaged in research with the City of Amsterdam which was recognized as Europe’s Capitol of Innovation in 2016. Their Smart City initiative delivered insights into the use of technology and data collection that began to address the complexities facing city managers. A key component was and still very much is citizen input that can help initiatives flourish.
As we all learned over the past year, data, technology and connection is critical to the future. So it is very fitting and exciting to see Soofa partnering with Liz and Jeremy Hitchcock of the Orbit Group and the City of Manchester stepping up quickly to deploy Soofa technology in Manchester’s downtown. The installation team was out in front of 848 Elm St., and Jay Davini, Chief of Street Operations, Manchester Public Works, worked with employees of Orbit Group in finalizing the safe placement of the unit.
Said Liz Hitchcock, Principal of Orbit Group, “The sign will support Orbit Group and the City of Manchester’s shared vision to drive growth and innovation within the city by updating pedestrians on governmental announcements, upcoming events in the downtown, opportunities to patronize local businesses, news and announcements relevant to the downtown area, and more.”
Soofa is ideal for people and communities with a shared stake in a special place. The neighborhood news feed connects a community with screens everyone can see and anyone can use. As the project progresses, this can become a platform for everyone in the community to have their voice heard.
“We’re thrilled to bring Soofa Signs to Manchester as a source of hyper-local, community-oriented information that everyone can use and everyone can benefit from,” said Sandra Richter, Soofa’s CEO and Co-Founder, in a recent press release.
Manchester Ink Link will power the live news feed, a calendar of upcoming local events and various polls as a way to continue deeper engagement and conversations with all segments of our community. This hyper-local real-time update has the capability to enhance the connectedness of the people who live and work nearby. It also allows Manchester’s local stories to reach a much more diverse audience that can come to see Manchester and New Hampshire as a great place to live, work, invest and grow their business and family roots.
Bravo – well done – Manchester!