Atlanta Gets Connected with Soofa Sign Network

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In seven diverse, lively, and loved neighborhoods across Atlanta, Soofa Signs are making outdoor communication easier and better. Serving neighborhoods and residents as digital community bulletin boards and transit info displays, the Signs are available for anyone to use through Soofa Talk. First launching in Atlanta’s famed Little Five Points neighborhood in March 2018 with local user-generated content and real-time transit schedule information, the network expanded to 30 locations for the Super Bowl LIII.

Nominating Company: Soofa, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Venue: Atlanta Neighborhood Soofa Sign Community Info Network, Atlanta, Georgia
Project: Atlanta Neighborhood Soofa Sign Community Info Network
Category: Public Spaces

BACKGROUND
The City of Atlanta was selected as a strategic early adopter city of the Sign, along with Boston and Las Vegas, in late 2017 for its vision to use the Soofa Sign as a novel tool to improve communication with citizens and enhance overall citizen engagement. The City sought to use the Soofa Sign to bridge the gap between digital and physical communication. Partnering with the city’s Deputy CIO, Smart Cities Director Kirk Talbot, and the ATL311 department, Soofa installed Soofa Signs across five selected neighborhoods, downtown and at City Hall. Now, after nearly a year of experience, the City sees the Soofa Sign network as a tremendous asset to communicate Atlanta 311 programs, build a sense of community and provide valuable transit schedule information. The City Council requested that Soofa expand the network to 30 signs in time for Super Bowl LIII in February 2019.

CHALLENGES
The City of Atlanta has been interested in citizen engagement solutions for several years. After seeing the success of kiosk networks like LinkNYC in New York, the city issued an RFI and then an RFP to define and source a similar network for the city and the MARTA transit system. After reviewing options from these responses, the city decided to cancel the RFP and re-think their options, goals and needs. Soofa offered the city the opportunity to pilot test the Soofa Sign network at no cost on the basis of a grant from Soofa. Since the signs are solar powered and require no power or fiber-optic Internet connections, locating and installing the signs was easy and quick. With the citizen and neighborhood-focused content approach, the city saw immediate interest and adoption. The ATL311 saw immediate results in communicating programs and creating engagement with the community.

SoofaTalk picSOLUTIONS
With a total network of 30 Signs, Atlanta is one of the largest and most engaged cities. The use of the Signs includes informative content from ATL311 about the latest city services and ways to be more connected, announcements for upcoming local events, playful community posts, and local business advertisements from businesses of all sizes, representing numerous industries. We have worked extremely hard with the MARTA to build a custom feature to display MARTA arrival times in real time on our Signs nearest transit stops and stations. The support for this feature was made clear by Tweets to us thanking us for installing it, and the positive feedback we received from the Planning Department at Cascade Heights.

RESULTS
The results in Atlanta mirror those of the Soofa Sign networks installed in neighborhoods in Boston and Miami. Soofa was recently awarded the Ford Foundation “City of Tomorrow” Challenge award for Miami-Dade. With the support of leadership in the City of Atlanta, including Kirk Talbott, Rocky Atkins, Amir Farokhi, Ramon Riley-Creese, Ashraf Elkhadrawy, Girma Negussie, Torri Martin, and City Partners including Central Atlanta Progress and Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Soofa Sign network has positively impacted the lives of hundreds of thousands of citizens and visitors in the last year. Lime, Live Nation, Southeast Mortgage, Masquerade, and the College Football Hall of Fame are currently financing the Soofa Sign network. What’s Next? We are installing additional Soofa Signs downtown, adjacent to heavily-used MARTA stops like Five Points, Peachtree Center, and Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Citizen demand is through the roof, from phone calls and emails to Facebook messages and Instagram tags.

PROJECT PARTNERS
Central Atlanta Progress Downtown Business Improvement District

Soofa Sign Network Phase 1 rollout image

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