Why can’t Haligonians charge on the go?

Mobile charging stations could be a game changer

A Google search for mobile charging stations in Halifax, even with the keyword “phone” highlighted, generates results for electric carports and electronic shops – nothing on mobile charging stations for our phones.

In a country where the majority of our population owns and relies on mobile phones, why are we still scrambling to keep devices charged in public? 

They exist, I swear!

The first time I saw a mobile charging station was in an airport in the United States. Multiple cords dangled from a long table, free of charge. It was a beacon in the dark for a young adult with a low battery on a long trip. 

A few weeks ago, I found myself thinking about this charging station, as I walked from Point Pleasant Park to Barrington Street with a dead iPhone and no charger. 

Where are all the charging stations in Halifax? While Dalhousie University’s Student Union Building has stations in its study spaces, the rest of Halifax needs to catch up. 

Surely, in an age where we rely on our mobile devices for everything from communication to banking, there are enough of us willing to pay for a full battery on our phones. Heck, I’d take five per cent of a battery if it would let me call a cab in a time of crisis. 

Third-year Dalhousie student, Yanisa Artornturasuk is inclined to agree.

“I think the idea of having cell phone charging stations around Halifax is great because, nowadays, cell phones are essential,” she says. “Also, in an emergency where you need to call someone or use GPS, but your phone runs out of battery, having a charging station around could be crucial.”

Youth Live charging project

While you may not find charging stations at the Seaport Market or Halifax Public Library yet, there are some spots in the city catering to those in need.

In 2019, CBC News reported on a project in Halifax to implement mobile phone stations for youth. Lee Moore of the Youth Live Project was hoping to have five wall-mounted stations setup throughout HRM recreation facilities.

The idea was that youth in the 21-week program, lead by Youth Live, may not have power at home. These stations would help keep teens connected. 

Currently, teens can charge devices at some of the drop-in youth centres run by Halifax Recreation, including Power House Youth Centre on Bell Road

Charging stations elsewhere

Your search for a Halifax charging station for the adult public might be fruitless, but there are places in North America where mobile charging is a reality. An online search for public charging in New York City, for example, shows two companies with mobile stations situated throughout the bustling metropolis. 

Mobile Qubes and ChargeItSpot offer convenient locator tools to find charging stations around the city. The docks are wireless, secure and use UV light to kill bacteria as your phone charges. 

Halifax may not have the thriving 8.4 plus million residents of NYC, but we’re a port city with a growing population and our batteries are low! 

Safety and cybercrime

Whenever we connect our devices to an outside power source, especially through USB, there’s a chance our data could be exchanged. I wonder if this is one of the reasons Halifax, and other small Canadian cities, are slow to move on the concept of public mobile charging. 

In 2018, a Toronto man lost his phone during a fire alarm at CF Toronto Eaton Centre while using a Brightbox charging station. 

With theft, hygiene and data breach as possible deterrents for the public stations, some are still willing to give them a try. 

“Most of the time identity theft and physical theft are uncontrollable, but we could put a sign or a phone number close to the charging station for people to call customer service if something goes wrong,” says Artornturasuk.

I tend to agree that there are solutions for cyber and physical security which could be implemented. Regardless, in a time of crisis, I think I’d be less concerned about identity theft and more concerned about connecting with my family.

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