Magazine article Parks & Recreation

People for Parks: Tech Edition

Magazine article Parks & Recreation

People for Parks: Tech Edition

Article excerpt

As director of strategic partnerships and business development at Soofa, Edward Krafcik is interested in improving the health of communities through innovation. Working alongside business leaders, real estate developers, social engineers, landscape architects and urban designers, Krafcik attempts to reimagine our communal landscape as "smarter, more social and more sustainable." He finds, more often than not these days, that technology plays a leading role in achieving such aims. Products like the Soofa Bench, a solar-powered bench that also acts as a charging station for cell phones and other small electronics, are helping to bridge the gap between technology, leisure and face-to-face social interaction. We sat down with Krafcik to learn more about his vision of how tech and parks can work hand-in-hand to bring people outside and draw them together.

Parks & Recreation magazine: There has been much hand-wringing over how to get people away from their screens and out into nature and communal open spaces, but your work helps bring tech and the outdoors closer together. Talk about why you think that's important.

Edward Krafcik: As a former landscape architect, I certainly can understand the fears around integrating technology into outdoor environments like parks and communal open spaces. However, it's important to remember that we live in a world today where all of us in some way or another interface with technology. The notion of a park being a "refuge" today needs to be considered in the context of our technology-centric lives. From connecting with our friends and meeting new people, to getting around the city and experiencing new places when we travel, we rely more than ever on technology. Whether it's an app on our phone or the public Wi-Fi network in our local coffee shop, technology is important to our everyday lives. That said, I don't see technology as the enemy of our great parks and public spaces, rather, I see it as a valuable amenity that can be offered. Further, just because technology is made available, it doesn't mean that everyone will bury their heads in their phones. It simply provides them the same comforts they are used to everywhere else in the city. Another way to look at it is to consider the growing generation of people who are highly connected and ask the question, "Are these people coming to our parks at the same rate they would if we offered amenities that met their technological needs? …

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