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With an Eye Toward Disaster, NYC Debuts Solar Charging Stations

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the it's-always-sunny-in-new-york-city dept.

Cellphones 115

Nerval's Lobster writes "When hurricane Sandy pummeled New York City last fall, it left a sizable percentage of the metropolis without electricity. Residents had trouble keeping their phones and tablets charged, and often walked across whole neighborhoods to reach zones with power. Come the next disaster, at least a few citizens could communicate a little easier thanks to 25 solar-powered charging stations going up around the city. The stations—known as 'Street Charge' — are the result of a partnership between AT&T, Brooklyn design studio Pensa, and portable solar-power maker Goal Zero (with approval by the city's Parks Department). The first unit will deploy in Brooklyn's Fort Green Park on June 18, followed in short order by others in Union Square, Central Park, the Rockaways, and other locations. Each station incorporates lithium-ion batteries in addition to solar panels; charging a phone to full capacity could take as long as two hours, but the time necessary for a partial charge is much shorter. But a couple of charging stations also won't help very much if half the city is without power: In order to help mitigate the effects of the next hurricane, New York City major Michael Bloomberg has put forward a $20 billion plan for seawalls, levees, and dozens of other improvements. 'Sandy exposed weaknesses in the city's telecommunications infrastructure — including the location of critical facilities in areas that are susceptible to flooding,' reads one section of the plan's accompanying report. The city will harden the system 'by increasing the accountability of telecommunications providers to invest in resiliency and by using new regulatory authority to enable rapid recovery after extreme weather events.'"

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Fee to use? (3, Interesting)

danomac (1032160) | about a year ago | (#44042695)

Is there a charge to use it?

If there isn't I can see it being abused by people.

Re:Fee to use? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44042739)

Saw one of these today, they were free. They seemed to have IPhone plugs and usb slots (you'd have to bring your own charger cable for micro-usb), but they did look kinda cool, kinda blended in with the park and didn't take up much space.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043271)

kinda blended in with the park and didn't take up much space

So a perfect place to shop for a new phone then?

Re:Fee to use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043693)

There were some AT&T reps standing around... so maybe? I didn't talk to them.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043789)

whoosh.

Re:Fee to use? (2)

Goaway (82658) | about a year ago | (#44044607)

You'd do well to ensure you are not yourself being whooshed, before rushing to claim others are.

Re:Fee to use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043405)

Wait until someone puts some funny looking USB plug to slurp everything off of the USB charge port.. There was a story on /. the other day about this too. You think ATM skimming is bad? Wait until they skim all of the nude photos of your gf off of your iphone.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

Y-Crate (540566) | about a year ago | (#44045759)

Wait until someone puts some funny looking USB plug to slurp everything off of the USB charge port.. There was a story on /. the other day about this too. You think ATM skimming is bad? Wait until they skim all of the nude photos of your gf off of your iphone.

Yeah, this might (probably wil) turn into a huge problem. They should offer traditional plugs to prevent a PR diaster.

Audio-out cables are the only untrusted ones you should mess with (at least on iOS devices). Anything else that uses the dock connector is extremely risky.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about a year ago | (#44043717)

Are they waterproof? How does the USB port stand up to the elements? Because I could seriously see this being a problem next time there's a hurricane. It seems like they wouldn't work specifically when you needed them. Flying debris could easily break a solar panel. Also, 25 charging stations in a city of 10 million people seems like it would do little good. It takes over an hour to charge many phones from a wall socket. I could see quite a queue forming if everybody wanted to charge their phones at the same time.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

dbIII (701233) | about a year ago | (#44046729)

Flying debris could easily break a solar panel

Obviously, as seen in tornado aftermath photographs where flying debris has easily broken everything, but unfortunately your post is giving us zero information apart from the chip on your shoulder about solar. It's mainstream now, it's been on pocket calculators for a decade or more FFS - just get over it.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | about a year ago | (#44043847)

I use an old-style "dumb phone" that charges off of a 3mm jack. I wonder if there's an adapter I could use for that. And, before anybody asks, I use a dumb phone because all I want is a phone, not a pocket computer.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44042767)

Saw one of these today, they were free to use. They seem to cover most charging situations (iphone/micro-usb), and a usb slot for other connectors (if you bring your own cable). They also blended in pretty well with the park and didnt take up too much space.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) | about a year ago | (#44043073)

New Yorkers are renowned throughout the world for their courtesy, and politeness. No, wait that is not New Yorkers.
I expect that there will be a riot around each one of these charging stations. Then someone will get pissed off that they can't charge their phone, and destroy the charging station. "If I can't charge. No one can!"
I just don't see this working.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

0racle (667029) | about a year ago | (#44043119)

How many riots broke out around gas stations after Sandy? New Yorkers seemed to keep it pretty much together.

Re:Fee to use? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44043225)

How many riots broke out around gas stations after Sandy? New Yorkers seemed to keep it pretty much together.

A gas station has a well defined queue (i.e. the road), an attendant that works there, and people in general are waiting in their cars, separated from each other.

When hundreds of people crowd around a 4 phone charge station with no obvious queuing order, there's going to much more chance for tempers to flare "Hey! Why are you charging an iPad? You just want to play games but I need to charge my phone to call my mother!" or "Hey, you've been here for an hour already, why don't you unplug and let someone else charge for a while!?"

Re:Fee to use? (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#44043751)

Have a lot of riots broken out around park benches recently? How many people get punched in the face for sitting on a bench reading a newspaper too long on a crowded morning? Folks generally manage to not go berserk over lack of access to other first-come, first-serve public accommodations; what's so special about these phone charging stations? Anyone on the verge of punching someone over charging time (that they could get at home, work, or a cafe) is likely going to find some other reason to punch someone anyway.

Re:Fee to use? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44044089)

Have a lot of riots broken out around park benches recently? How many people get punched in the face for sitting on a bench reading a newspaper too long on a crowded morning? Folks generally manage to not go berserk over lack of access to other first-come, first-serve public accommodations; what's so special about these phone charging stations? Anyone on the verge of punching someone over charging time (that they could get at home, work, or a cafe) is likely going to find some other reason to punch someone anyway.

I was talking more about a disaster situation where hundreds of people will want to charge their phones at a charge station that takes 2 hours to charge 4 phones (or whatever).

I have seen a fight (or at least yelling and pushing) for a public bench at a concert at a public park were there was a dispute over who was "hovering" over the bench the longest and who was "entitled" to use the bench as the current occupants left the bench.

Re:Fee to use? (4, Insightful)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#44044281)

For actual disaster scenarios, there is abundant evidence that ad-hoc groups of strangers often cooperatively self-organize moderately effectively rather than degenerate into massive murderous brawls. There have been lots of disasters that cast groups of hundreds to thousands of people into resource-limited refugee situations; these rarely turn into bloodbath riots --- typically, you'll see far more efficient and egalitarian distribution of resources (regardless of race/gender/socioeconomic status) than you're likely to encounter in "normal" society. You'll always have a few especially obnoxious assholes, but they rarely succeed in much more than turning the crowds' antipathy towards themselves. Rude, self-entitled behavior is far more likely to be tolerated over "frivolous" resources like a concert ticket than over food, water, shelter, and communications in an emergency with a crowd of strangers.

Re:Fee to use? (2)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44044367)

For actual disaster scenarios, there is abundant evidence that ad-hoc groups of strangers often cooperatively self-organize moderately effectively rather than degenerate into massive murderous brawls. There have been lots of disasters that cast groups of hundreds to thousands of people into resource-limited refugee situations; these rarely turn into bloodbath riots --- typically, you'll see far more efficient and egalitarian distribution of resources (regardless of race/gender/socioeconomic status) than you're likely to encounter in "normal" society. You'll always have a few especially obnoxious assholes, but they rarely succeed in much more than turning the crowds' antipathy towards themselves. Rude, self-entitled behavior is far more likely to be tolerated over "frivolous" resources like a concert ticket than over food, water, shelter, and communications in an emergency with a crowd of strangers.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Effects_of_Hurricane_Katrina_in_New_Orleans#Civil_disturbances [wikipedia.org]
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/hurricane-sandy-looting-brooklyn-coney-island_n_2047183.html [huffingtonpost.com]

Which big disasters in the USA *didn't* result in looting and other public disturbances?

Re:Fee to use? (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#44044501)

Katrina makes a good example. Consider the 26,000 people packed into the Superdome in uncomfortable conditions. During the period, there were a lot of (often highly racist) media reports describing the mass carnage and hundreds of deaths that must be occurring with so many lowlifes crammed together. The final tally from the Wikipedia article:

There were six deaths confirmed at the Superdome. Four of these were from natural causes, one was the result of a drug overdose, and one was a suicide.

Civil disturbances in the form of violence and looting against private property / stores doesn't particularly support a thesis that people don't band together for egalitarian resource distribution. From a crowd perspective, store owners hoarding food/medicine for profit while masses starve *are* the obnoxious assholes setting themselves against the greater public good. Disregard for profit and hoarded private property does not show a breakdown of civil sharing of limited resources: hoarding property to protect personal wealth is itself a breakdown in human civility in times of disaster. A self-organizing egalitarian "crowd mentality" would say it's time to throw open the doors and freely distribute vital supplies to the whole community. Note in your linked article on "hurricane Sandy shootings" that there were *no deaths* actually reported, just resistance against shop owners and police protecting the hoarding of supplies.

Re:Fee to use? (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44043953)

Easy to solve. Have the chargers put out say 500mAh of charge and then cut off, indicating that it's the next person's turn to get an emergency charge. Not enough energy to run an iPad for very long but it will allow a phone to make a few calls.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

femtobyte (710429) | about a year ago | (#44045035)

The efficient solution --- that relies on self-organizing cooperation in the crowd, rather than technocratic intervention, is that while a person has their phone attached to the charger, they let everyone else line up and make 2-minute calls on it. When the phone is fully charged (or they tire of standing around sharing it), they step aside and let someone else volunteer to provide the "community phone." If you don't want to share your phone, then you've got zero priority for the charging station over those willing to share. I suspect a lot of ad-hoc groups will spontaneously figure some arrangement similar to this out.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year ago | (#44043921)

New Yorkers don't have cars.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

msauve (701917) | about a year ago | (#44043293)

"I expect that there will be a riot around each one of these charging stations."

Because New Yorkers obviously haven't figured out that every car (including taxis) comes equipped with a charging outlet.

Re:Fee to use? (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44044261)

"I expect that there will be a riot around each one of these charging stations."

Because New Yorkers obviously haven't figured out that every car (including taxis) comes equipped with a charging outlet.

I'd imagine that most of the people that own cars (that aren't flooded in underground garages) will have already evacuated from the disaster zone rather than hang around in an area with no electricity, water, or food.

Re:Fee to use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043713)

New Yorkers are renowned throughout the world for their courtesy, and politeness. No, wait that is not New Yorkers.

I've been to NYC multiple times. I've yet to meet a single rude person there. Baltimore/DC is the worst place I've ever been. If you're white, expect to be treated rudely on a daily basis. Don't just assume the TV myths are true.

Re:Fee to use? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045431)

Lets see - New York has had a major terrorist attack and a major blackout (2003) and none of this happened. People actually stood in line to use payphones in 2003, this will not be any different.

Re:Fee to use? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about a year ago | (#44043095)

Is there a charge to use it?

If there isn't I can see it being abused by people.

I suspect that the inconvenience offers a built-in deterrent. To use one, you have to plug something into it, and the design offers no means of securing a device(as the pay-charge stations often do, in the form of little 'lockers' or similar that will hold a cellphone until you return).

How long are you going to stand around babysitting your phone in exchange for a few watts of free electricity? It's a convenient thing to have if you are taking a walk and need to top up your phone; but that's a pretty lousy hourly rate.

Aside from pure vandalism, which is possible; but wouldn't be deterred by fees, the only potentially sticky use case I can see would be the homeless. They have the fewest other options, and comparatively low opportunity costs for being near one of these as opposed to elsewhere. I suppose we'll see what team NYPD decides to do if they show up...

use up that data (1)

alen (225700) | about a year ago | (#44042697)

AT&T isn't being nice
being able to charge your phone on the go means you use more data and more people to go over their data plan allowance resulting in overages

Re:use up that data (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about a year ago | (#44042765)

Oh, AT&T is 'being nice' - it's cheap publicity and unlike the usual bit of AT&T publicity these days, is actually positive. The costs are but a rounding error in some small department and are probably being born mostly by the City. I imagine that NYC isn't charging them a siting fee. The stations will have an AT&T logo - so it's advertising.

I sure hope the rest of NYCs storm mitigation efforts are a bit more substantive.

Re:use up that data (1)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44042823)

They're probably after any bitcoins you have stored on your phone. <_<

Disaster to the Station (4, Insightful)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#44042775)

And why do we assume that these solar panel charging stations will still be working in the advent of a disaster? Rain and flooding can short out the batteries. Wind and falling branches can destroy the solar panels. I guess the fact that each is independant will mean that hopefully some of them survived the storm. But it seems to me that rather than spending the money on these storm proof kiosks you could strengthen the infrastructure. So you can charge your iPad, but you have no lights or heat at home, great improvement!

Re:Disaster to the Station (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44042889)

And why do we assume that these solar panel charging stations will still be working in the advent of a disaster? Rain and flooding can short out the batteries. Wind and falling branches can destroy the solar panels. I guess the fact that each is independant will mean that hopefully some of them survived the storm. But it seems to me that rather than spending the money on these storm proof kiosks you could strengthen the infrastructure. So you can charge your iPad, but you have no lights or heat at home, great improvement!

I think the idea is being able to recharge your phone so you could let friends and family know where you are and your status.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about a year ago | (#44042949)

I don't see any mention of a pico cell as part of them. Lost power and cell service power for 7 days not an issue backup generators kicked in no issue after 24 hours internet and cell service went down as there batteries quick and there were not enough generators to go around. AT&T had 4 boxes on 4 adjacent poles and a generator required for each. Comcast had a box but no generator less than a dozen poles up from there head end. As far as phone and data the move from central head end to stuff on poles has greatly reduced the reliability in a greater than 24 hour widespread outage. I'm a network engineer I know some of these must exist but the trend is to put anything you can in them to reduce requirements in the head end/CO data-center or pulling copper all the way out to new subdivisions..

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

jfengel (409917) | about a year ago | (#44043157)

It can be a great improvement. Letting people know that you're OK, or that you need help, can be a major improvement. You still need cell towers to achieve that, but as with the charging stations, they can be independent of each other. Bringing in a new, temporary one will take less time and skill than fixing a downed power line.

Strengthening the infrastructure is expensive and hard. Putting up a lot of independent devices is cheap and easy. It's not the complete solution, but it's a feasible step that can make some things better without having to boil the ocean.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

Agent0013 (828350) | about a year ago | (#44044055)

These are very good points. The redundancy is great and I can see the value in that. Plus if they do make them mobile then that should help out a lot. I guess I don't have much faith that they will implement it right, in a way that will be durable and helpful when they continue to fail at the things they are already doing.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

linuxpyro (680927) | about a year ago | (#44043433)

This really depends on how they're built, and where they're sited. If they pay attention to those details there's a good chance that something that would take out the power would leave the kiosks usable. Strengthening the infrastructure is good and should also be done, but then it's still a major point of failure. At leas this is some additional redundancy.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043701)

They don't have to be pre-deployed either.

You could put portable ones locked up in fire stations and police precincts and simply drag
them out and chain them to the nearest standing lamp pole when needed.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | about a year ago | (#44043645)

Hmm....

I'm surprised and frankly *shocked* that we're not hearing more calls for them to move the city of New York or at least most of it somewhere safer in the US. I mean, what were they thinking building such a city in such an obviously poor area, near the ocean with rivers around that could so easily flood...and has an past history with hurricanes, that have wiped whole vacation islands away that used to be right there off the coast..?

I mean..we hear all kinds of talk of this sort when Katrina hit New Orleans...why aren't we now talking of moving NYC and those cities in NJ built so dangerously close to the ocean. Where are all the calls saying we shouldn't be rebuilding there....etc?

I'm puzzled. Could there possibly be some bias in this country? A double standard?

Nah....couldn't be that.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043721)

Who would want NYC moved to their neighborhood or within 200 mile thereof.
Raise your hands.

Anyone? Anyone? Bueler?

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44044001)

Who would want NYC moved to their neighborhood or within 200 mile thereof.

You should be so lucky you m*****f***ing rube.

P.S. Note, contrary to stereotype, the politeness of the native New Yorker.

Re:Disaster to the Station (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044095)

I'm puzzled. Could there possibly be some bias in this country? A double standard?

Nah....couldn't be that.

You're right, it's not a double standard. NYC wasn't built below sea level. New Orleans, which you are implying as the counter-point, was. NYC doesn't require a levee system to keep the river out on a typical day, New Orleans does. Enjoy the rest of your uneducated and ignorant day.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44044127)

we hear all kinds of talk of this sort when Katrina hit New Orleans...why aren't we now talking of moving NYC and those cities in NJ built so dangerously close to the ocean. Where are all the calls saying we shouldn't be rebuilding there....etc?

Because NYC at least starts out above water before the storm. Seriously, I don't mean this as an anti-New Orleans snark, but starting out below sea level doesn't seem like a winning proposition. I know the Dutch manage it, but they don't get many hurricanes. Also half of their country is below water, whereas most of the US, even most of Louisiana, starts out above sea level.

I don't know what the realistic (including politics) answer is. There are parts of NYC, like the Rockaways, that should never have been built on. They're barrier beaches that a good wave can wash over. I doubt they'll be abandoned though. What can be done about NO? It doesn't seem outrageous to offer people an incentive to leave so that the city can be shrunk, but I know that "shrinking" a city isn't an easy task. At the very least though NO shouldn't be expanded. Unfortunately it makes no sense. Maybe we need a Newer Orleans on higher ground?

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about a year ago | (#44044581)

Seriously, I don't mean this as an anti-New Orleans snark, but starting out below sea level doesn't seem like a winning proposition. I know the Dutch manage it, but they don't get many hurricanes.

Ummm, the North sea has huge storms that create exactly the same tidal surges. There was a major disaster from one such storm in the fifties that flooded Holland and London. The Dutch "manage" so well because Western Europe learned it's lessons from that 1950's catastrophe, ever heard of the Thames barrier?

Suggesting that people simply move displays remarkable ignorance about the scale of the problem. Half of all the people who live in coastal US cities now live below sea level. The problems with coastal cities are numerous, adding millions of tons of concrete to the surface and sucking up underground water from bores makes the ground subside, taming the river stops it dumping silt out of the mouth allowing the sea to erode the existing (protective) delta, and of course rising sea levels. Some places in NY are now 30ft lower than they were in 1900, some parts of Mexico city have sunk nearly 100ft in the same timespan!

If nothing else, what comparing Amsterdam to New Orleans proves beyond all reasonable doubt is that spending billions of tax dollars building and maintain seawalls is by far the cheapest and most humane solution.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#44045197)

Ummm, the North sea has huge storms that create exactly the same tidal surges.

Ummm, no. The North Sea flood of 1953 had storm surges of 18'. Katrina had surges of 27'.

ever heard of the Thames barrier?

Because London is well upstream from the sea, the Thames barrier is only 1700' wide. If that's all there was to it, it'd be easy.

Half of all the people who live in coastal US cities now live below sea level.

Cite?

And if half of all the people who live in coastal US cities now live below sea level, how do they manage it without the sort of levees that surround New Orleans?

some parts of Mexico city have sunk nearly 100ft in the same timespan!

Luckily for them they're 7000' above sea level.

comparing Amsterdam to New Orleans proves beyond all reasonable doubt is that spending billions of tax dollars building and maintain seawalls is by far the cheapest and most humane solution

It proves nothing because you haven't even offered a guess of the cost of protecting New Orleans, and you fail to take into account that unlike the Netherlands the US has lots of land above sea level. I also fail to see what's inhumane about offering people some free money if they wish to move to higher ground.

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44045889)

Half of all the people who live in coastal US cities now live below sea level.

No offense, but I don't count imaginary people.

If nothing else, what comparing Amsterdam to New Orleans proves beyond all reasonable doubt is that spending billions of tax dollars building and maintain seawalls is by far the cheapest and most humane solution.

Not at all. Amsterdam is a productive and competently run city. And how humane is it to encourage people to live in dangerous regions with poor systems for protecting those people from the risks?

Re:Disaster to the Station (0)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44045857)

NYC pays for itself. New Orleans is just an incompetent mess that'll get into another disaster someday and require another bailout. I see no double standard here.

Re:Disaster to the Station (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44043925)

So you can charge your iPad, but you have no lights or heat at home, great improvement!

Just download a flashlight and real wood fireplace app. Duh.

Re:Disaster to the Station (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045089)

For fuck sake you mouthbreathing pseudo genius. They are building these station against power grid collapse. Not if they are directly flooded, what do you think ? That people will fucking swim toward them to charge their phones ? They won't survive a nukular blast either. Can't you for fuck sake try to understand what kind of event have been considered and tried to be remedied by the use of these kind of station instead of flinging brains shit toward the wall trying to make one stick and make you look smart ?

Re:Disaster to the Station (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44045899)

Ok, that makes sense. Will there likely be cell phone coverage in the case of power grid collapse? That's the part that has me a bit dubious.

I dunno, Fred (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#44042805)

Seems to me all the disaster film (real and otherwise) I see shows dark, dark clouds over Manhattan.

Re:I dunno, Fred (2)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#44042947)

Seems to me all the disaster film (real and otherwise) I see shows dark, dark clouds over Manhattan.

Yup. From the city that brought you a ban on large fountain sodas to combat obesity comes solar panels to combat storms. o_O

big trucks (1)

BigBrownChunx (1083363) | about a year ago | (#44042815)

During the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, mobile carriers drove big trucks around the parts of the city without power for people to juice up their phones. We were without power for 16 days, so being able to visit one of the trucks made all the difference :-) I only wish that we could have recharged our laptops, not to use them but because the batteries didn't like being totally flat for a couple of weeks after slowly discharging on standby.

Re:big trucks (1)

0racle (667029) | about a year ago | (#44043155)

You can shut your laptop down and remove the battery you know. In fact, you should have.

Re:big trucks (1)

PRMan (959735) | about a year ago | (#44043223)

You can shut your laptop down and remove the battery you know. In fact, you should have. -- "I use a Mac because I'm just better than you are." If you use a Mac, you should know that Mac batteries aren't removable.

Re:big trucks (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043345)

But even Macs shut off, even if Mac users never shut up.

Re:big trucks (1)

BigBrownChunx (1083363) | about a year ago | (#44043547)

I've learned that lesson the hard way. Unfortunately that kind of thing is bottom of the list when you're trying to fix broken pipes, damaged roofs and working out where your next source of heat and clean water is going to be.

Yay, my cell phone's charged (5, Interesting)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about a year ago | (#44042851)

Now if only the cell towers had power...

Re:Yay, my cell phone's charged (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#44043005)

They have Batteries/Generators as well as teams of guys running around keeping them fueled up even during a hurricane. I used to be a part of disaster preparedness at a telco. Often our guys were the ones alerting first responders to problem spots and trapped people. But this is still a stupid idea. The idea that a solar panel would survive weather that a power line couldn't is a joke.

Re:Yay, my cell phone's charged (1)

Nukenbar (215420) | about a year ago | (#44043571)

I assume the idea here is the system is off grid for when you have a system wide failure like Sandy. Obviously Manhattan does not have any above ground wires.

Also, plenty of "towers" in Manhattan are simply antennas bolted to the top of apartment buildings wired to the buildings power with limited batteries.

Re:Yay, my cell phone's charged (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year ago | (#44043995)

The cell towers have battery backup in most countries, and I'd be surprised if the US is different.

When there were blackouts in the wake of the 11/3 earthquake in Japan the mobile networks mostly stayed up and the service providers sent solar powered emergency chargers to the worst affected areas. People were naturally desperate to contact their families and friends.

poor babies (-1, Troll)

54mc (897170) | about a year ago | (#44042895)

and often walked across whole neighborhoods to reach zones with power

Whole neighborhoods!? I'm amazed they survived the brutal fifteen minute journey and lived to tell the tale.

Re:poor babies (1)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#44043059)

Hey! Those hipsters were *shocked* that they had to leave Williamsburgh! Woah, and come into Chinatown, holy cow!

What's wrong with this: Solar power. Hurricane. (1, Informative)

Cliff Stoll (242915) | about a year ago | (#44042929)

Solar powered chargers in the aftermath of a hurricane?
It'll be days after a hurricane before there's a clear day.
Solar panels work poorly on cloudy days ... those on my roof generate about 5 to 30 percent compared to full sunlight.

Re:What's wrong with this: Solar power. Hurricane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44042985)

You write that like there are no such things as capacitors or batteries that can hold a charge.

Imagine a hardened box designed to withstand New York, ready to power devices if needed.

Hell they should have these things anyway, I can think of lots of instances where I've been across town and lost power. It's not like you can find payphones everywhere like you used to.

Bzzzzt. Wrong Answer (2)

tekrat (242117) | about a year ago | (#44043027)

Bull. In the Northeast, 24 hours after any hurricane, it's bright and clear like nothing happened. Secondly, most solar panels I've worked with still produce power even on cloudy days, they just aren't producing as much power as they could be (most engineers take this into account). PSE&G in NJ has invested a ton of money in solar, and yes, we're in the Northeast, which is cloudy 50% of the year!

Re:Bzzzzt. Wrong Answer (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about a year ago | (#44043959)

And if the eye comes over you, it's nice and clear. I remember when Gloria hit Long Island, we went outside during the eye. It was sunny and almost nice outside, although the winds were still very strong.

Re:What's wrong with this: Solar power. Hurricane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043057)

Not necessarily. Once the storm moves out it can be clear the next day, and we are talking smart phone battery charging here - the load is pretty low (maybe 5-10W max per device).

Though I don't have a huge data set yet, my panels have never gone below 20% of their sunny day max even on terrible days like today.

Re:What's wrong with this: Solar power. Hurricane. (1)

oodaloop (1229816) | about a year ago | (#44043099)

Funny, I've been through several hurricanes and it's typically great weather the day after it passes. And they do have batteries apparently, if TFS is any indication.

Re:What's wrong with this: Solar power. Hurricane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043429)

The last two hurricanes I've been through were horrible afterward. Not because the weather was cloudy, but instead it was very bright, hot, and humid. At least for the second one we had a generator, and could run fans.

5 to 30 percent compared to full sunlight.

Should be easy enough to build panels 3 or more times larger than what you need if you only need a couple watts.

Re:What's wrong with this: Solar power. Hurricane. (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043461)

Solar powered chargers in the aftermath of a hurricane?
It'll be days after a hurricane before there's a clear day.
Solar panels work poorly on cloudy days ... those on my roof generate about 5 to 30 percent compared to full sunlight.

Solar panels work way better on cloudy days than you think [vernier.com] .
With a heavy over cast sky, most solar panels still yield 47% of their maximum output.
With frequent heavy dark clouds, like a impending storm, the yield is 71% on average.

Its a simple engineering problem to size the solar panel and the batteries for the typical number of consecutive cloudy.

Re:What's wrong with this: Solar power. Hurricane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043761)

time to invest in the mppt chargers

What about the towers? (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year ago | (#44042981)

What about the towers and the lines from the towers to the network? Charging stations will do no good if the towers aren't running and can't reach /their/ destination. The only thing wireless about your cell phone is the proverbial last mile between you and the tower.

Re:What about the towers? (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043501)

Asked and answered above.

Cell towers have backup generators and underground cables. These are a priority item, and there are teams running around refueling the generators.
Not all towers have to remain standing, you can lose a few and still have service coverage.

What a sham (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | about a year ago | (#44043019)

So now a big public investment in building and maintaining these ridiculous charging stations. In just a few weeks they will all be vandalized. And all of this for people with iPhones that don't want to bother to plan ahead for themselves.

It would be far wiser to set up public phones, either wired or wireless (or both), that people could use for free in a declared emergency and could use at other times for minimal costs if they are too poor to pay the outrageous cell phone charges in this country. Of course, in NYC, if you cover a network with ruggedized pay phones. most will be vandalized. And they don't even have interesting parts that the vandals might want, such as fragile expensive solar panels.

Oh well., I expect that several people at least managed to skim off a lot of money for themselves on this absurd project. I'll be laughing my ass off when the next disaster hits these people with their homes in known flood planes when they express surprise that something went wrong with this new system.

Re:What a sham (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about a year ago | (#44043311)

So now a big public investment in building and maintaining these ridiculous charging stations. In just a few weeks they will all be vandalized. And all of this for people with iPhones that don't want to bother to plan ahead for themselves.

AT&T is paying for them.

It would be far wiser to set up public phones, either wired or wireless (or both), that people could use for free in a declared emergency and could use at other times for minimal costs if they are too poor to pay the outrageous cell phone charges in this country.

Outrageous cell phone charges? A Net10 200 minute 30 day card costs $15 -- 7.5c/minute. Is that outrageous? There are even cheaper deals available if you shop around.

Of course, in NYC, if you cover a network with ruggedized pay phones. most will be vandalized. And they don't even have interesting parts that the vandals might want, such as fragile expensive solar panels.

What is a vandal going to do with a broken solar panel that they ripped out of a charging kiosk? Few vandals want the parts they destroy - and if they do, they are no longer vandals, they are thieves.

Re:What a sham (1)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043561)

You know regular old dumb cell phones can be charged at these stations as well. You don't have to go all iPhone hater on us.

And putting a few of these around doesn't cost that much, and maintenance is minimal other than dealing with vandals.
You don't even have to deploy them till needed, they can be stashed in police an fire stations of at AT&T depots
trotted out and chained to lamp posts when needed. The vandals would then be beaten to a pulp if they tried
to mess them up.

Regular old Fixed line phone banks are actually harder to maintain than a cell network in flooding conditions.

Re:What a sham (1)

linuxpyro (680927) | about a year ago | (#44045067)

The other thing is that it's not like one person would have to tie a charging slot up for two hours while their phone charged. If people with dead phones plugged in for a few minutes a lot of them could get just enough of a boost in for a quick phone call or some text messaging. It's not a lot, but for a lot of people it could be great for getting a word out to friends and family. It doesn't have to fully charge everyone's phone to be effective.

Do not rely on this for disaster preparedness. (1)

crevistontj (1032976) | about a year ago | (#44043089)

This is a nice amenity but is not a smart model for disaster preparedness. People should rely on themselves, not a solar charger that may or may not work and may or may not be available. I always have three phone batteries good for over a week of normal use, charged and ready to go. This cost me $22. You can buy 10,000mAH external batteries / chargers for cheap as well. If having a cell or tablet available is important part of your disaster preparedness plan, you should not rely on stuff you don't own that may not work and may be in use by 7,000,000 other people.

Re:Do not rely on this for disaster preparedness. (2)

icebike (68054) | about a year ago | (#44043633)

you should not rely on stuff you don't own that may not work and may be in use by 7,000,000 other people.

So why bother with all those batteries then? After all, those cell towers that you don't own won't necessarily be working either.
And those same 7 million people will be contending for them as well.

You can not live in a large city AND adopt a dooms-day prepper mentality. It makes no sense.
By all means spend the money for an external battery, but sooner or later even THAT will be exhausted.
Some Sandy victims were out of power for many weeks.

Re:Do not rely on this for disaster preparedness. (1)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about a year ago | (#44045167)

"After all, those cell towers that you don't own won't necessarily"

True, but most cell sites are rigged with backup power and have some pretty hardened network connections. Unless something pretty severe happens they'll probably remain functional, and portable cellsites are becoming commonplace for disaster response. While you of course cannot rely on them and you will of course have difficulties connecting they will probably be the only form of communications system available in a dense urban environment. Unfortunately our glorious FCC has not set aside any ad-hoc digital communications bandwidth for civilian use, or at least anything that is portable & not cost prohibitive. And CB, FRS or GMRS are going to be pretty useless if you have several million people all trying to use a few dozen frequencies. In any case communications should probably be pretty low on your needs list for a severe disaster, food, water, medical & defense should probably be the priority.

Re:Do not rely on this for disaster preparedness. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043991)

I always have three phone batteries good for over a week of normal use, charged and ready to go. This cost me $22. You can buy 10,000mAH external batteries / chargers for cheap as well.

Sounds lame to me. I've got two cars. They could each charge my phones every day for a week without issue. I also have deep cycle battery (180,000 mAH) and a gas generator that can recharge it multiple times on a take of gas. If I run out of gas, I've always got my siphon.

But I don't live in NYC and that's not really for disasters unless you count Burning Man as one.

Altercations (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043097)

I can totally see fights breaking out over who gets to use em and for how long.
In the event that people really need them, the available stations will be overwhelmed with angry undercharged cell phone users.
I'm just remembering how nasty people were during the NYC gas shortage after the hurricane. Cutting lines, getting into fights, etc.
Even during regular days, i can see people getting heated over having to wait to use them.

-HasH @ TrYPNET.net

Better option... (1)

RoTNCoRE (744518) | about a year ago | (#44043103)

I think they are going about this the wrong way. MintyBoost devices (or an imported similar device) and a brick of AA batteries, in your closet beforehand. Banking on everyone to be mobile and these stand being accessible during a crisis is not realistic.

This Is Suppose To Be Smart ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043197)

Solar power under clouds, driving rain (or snowfall) and 30 to 60 mph gusts ? No.

Want to bet how long the Solar stations will remain intact before local residents confiscate them for their own use or send to the 'scrapper' for a few Bloomberg Bucks ? 48 hours !

I'm glad Buddy Bloomie is the 'Mayor' of NYC. Anywhere else he'd be dog doodoo in 30 hours.

Build Your Own Charging Brick! (1)

IgnacioB (687913) | about a year ago | (#44043269)

Is it me or does that seem overkill? I went to Radio Shack and an autoparts store to buy three parts. A battery holder for 8 AA alkaline batteries, a 9V power lead (it's at 12v though), and a cigarette lighter adapter. I already had a car charger for the phone with a USB port on it. Wired the three together and I have a nice compact little power brick capable for recharging my iPhone and variety of other USB or 12V devices for a few days before the batteries go down. I use it camping too. $2.99 + $2.00 + $6.00 + $1.00 = http://ots.mwrc.net/images/dyn/sitemin_file2.php/product_images/119474/image/SP-8+Battery+Holder+copy.jpg http://rsk.imageg.net/graphics/product_images/pRS1C-2160125w345.jpg [imageg.net] http://www.powerwerx.com/_images/products/atcsocketbare_xlrg.jpg [powerwerx.com]

Why lithium-ion batteries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043343)

It's not as if weight is an issue for street furniture, so lead/acid or -gel batteries would actually do better, and be cheaper to run to boot.

Bulldoze the flood prone areas (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043375)

There is no reason for millions of people to live in a major flood zone. I hear there is a lot of cheap vacant land in Detroit, maybe we can relocate NYC there.

Population (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043439)

25 solar charging stations for over 8 million residents. Yeah, that should be enough.

nice idea, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043651)

As a side note, sea wall levees are a terrible idea. There are many other solutions, like natural barrier realignment, that don't involve billions of dollars and essentially punting the problem down the road.

Not standing in line (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043687)

I'm not standing in line if there's a disaster. Keep your phone charged. My phone usually has some charge in it. It's for emergencies in a disaster, not shooting videos and posting them to YouTube (This is my video of the sewer overflowing. There are many like it; but this one is mine).

If you want extra extended power, look into some kind of stationary battery that's always trickle charged and/or is charged every time you charge your phone. I always have camera batteries anyway. They're 1.2v Nimh. My phone is 5v. If I were that despearate, I bet I could hack the battery holder from my camera and/or flashlights and make a 4.8v pack for the phone. It'd be ugly; but it'd work. For people not interested in voiding warranties, they should just look into UPS type stuff and create an approved product list for residents... of course that just leads to even more potential corruption and cronyism when you have the gov recommending products; but they're already in bed with ATT. It's bad enough to be a corporate whore, they aren't even giving the residents a particularly good blow.

Yah... but the toilet still works. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043787)

Just flush some more money down the drain Mr Mayor.

Centralized planning.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44043929)

The problem in a disaster is that centralized planning breaks down...so now these idiots in NYC are going to do more centralized planning to make up for it?!?!

In NYC, a solar charger sitting in their front yard would be stolen (sad) if they even have front yards.

I guess they never heard of solar chargers sitting in their windows, or stuck to the window glass.

I guess they never considered car chargers, if they even have cars. They would kill their car's battery by leaving the lights on, and then ask for a jump start from the city.

They never considered power packs (with lithium batteries inside) or a SLA (sealed-lead-acid) battery as a back-up.

I give up. Amis get what they $#$% deserve.

If you've got the time... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#44044057)

From TFA:

The stations will allow a user to fill a smartphone in two hours, or grab a 30 percent charge in 30 minutes.

That's a long time to have to hang around an open-air charging station.

Just get one of these. (3, Informative)

asm2750 (1124425) | about a year ago | (#44044257)

If you need power for your cellphone that bad get one of these http://solarjoos.com/ [solarjoos.com] or one of these http://mylimeade.com/ [mylimeade.com]

Waka Waka (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044279)

Rather than hoping that the government sets things up properly, hoping that these stations work after the disaster, hoping that no gangs think of controlling access to these stations "for a small fee", etc., etc., get your own solar powered charging station.

http://us.waka-waka.com/

Then you can charge to your heart's delight, as long as there's some sun...

SEX WITH A HOMO (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44044811)

an eye on disaster? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44045555)

with bloomberg in charge, it will certainly end in disaster. Not to mention the idiot schumer.

If you want disaster preparedness (1)

Solandri (704621) | about a year ago | (#44045593)

The microUSB charger port on phones take 5 V. AA batteries are 1.5 V. Put four of them together and you have 6 V - more than enough to charge a phone. A phone battery is about 3.7 V and 1600 mAh, or 21,000 Joules. Four alkaline AA batteries are 4 * 1.5 V * 750 mAh, or 16,000 Joules. The heavy-duty ones are twice that. So they can completely or almost completely charge your phone.

They're a helluva lot more practical - you're not tied to the charging station for 2 hours. More durable - AA batteries are much more likely to survive a hurricane than solar panels. Substantially cheaper - I see them going on eBay for $2, batteries not included, whereas the solar charging stations are supposed to cost $12k-$20k each. Each station sports three 15 Watt panels, so using the 0.145 average capacity factor for solar in the U.S., each station will on average generate 564,000 Joules/day, or equivalent to 17-35 sets of 4 AA batteries. Just pass batteries and battery packs out after a disaster instead of chaining people to a charging station for 2 hours every day.

If you want to be green, use rechargeable AAs and have citizens drop by to swap them with a freshly charged set every day. Charge them with a generator, or a more practical array of solar panels if you like. Figure worst case you're paying $15 per charger pack, $8 for 4 rechargable AA batteries, and $2/Watt for a solar panel and regulation electronics (1.7 Watts needed per phone). For $12k-$20k you can buy enough to of these to fully charge 450-750 phones every day. Versus the 27 phones per day these charging stations are limited to due to having only 45 Watts of solar panels.

Once, an engineer heading a canal project was flabbergasted to find hundreds more diggers than he had requested, with most of them standing around idle. When he complained to the government official in charge of hiring, he was told the main purpose of the project was to create jobs, and building the canal was secondary. "Why didn't you just say so in the first place," he replied. "I would've specified that they were supposed to dig with spoons instead of shovels then." If you want to build public solar charging stations, just build them and call them that. Don't try to justify their existences with a task for which they are clearly unsuited and overpriced.
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