Solar-Powered Totem Poles Could Be the Heart of Smart Cities


Cities will eventually be filled with people who want to go online, charge their electric vehicles, and stay connected to the rest of the world following some catastrophic event. A new product announced on Tuesday was built to serve all those needs and more. Bid farewell to stodgy old light poles and say hello to the futuristic Totem pole.

The gadget’s description reads like a bunch of buzzwords put into a blender. Totem relies on solar power, offers wireless internet access, can recharge electric vehicles, and uses batteries to make sure all these services are available even in the wake of a city-wide disaster. It can replace lampposts, too, because it also illuminates the streets below.

All of those features have a common purpose: Totem said on Tuesday that the device is meant to help energy, comms, and transportation tech “undergo radical transformations to support the emerging needs of truly smart, clean cities” of the future.

The U.S. government is focused on the same areas. Solar power is the fastest-growing energy source in America, and electric vehicle corridors are leading the shift from gasoline.

Cities are working to address similar issues. New York introduced free public wifi, for example, and other cities are using tech to solve transportation woes.


Totem combines many of those efforts into a single device instead of trying to create different solutions to each problem. The first model is expected to debut in summer 2017. Inverse contacted the company to learn more about its plans and will update this post if it responds.

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