updated 01:50 pm EDT, Mon April 9, 2012
New York City fires up phonebooth pilot project
New York City will install 250 web-connected 32-inch smart screens into 250 old phone booths across its five boroughs. Part of a pilot program, the tech will be free to access and include local neighborhood information such as traffic, safety alerts, restaurants and store listings, among others. According to New York Post, the project may eventually see all 12,800 outdoor payphones replaced with these screens.
The existing phone booth contracts expire in October of 2014. The information will be displayed in multiple languages, at the request of its users. They will also have access to the 311 online service to file complaints or request city information.
The screens will be installed by City24x7, which promises they will be more sanitary than those used in ATMs. They will be water- and dust-proof, and can be cleaned with a jet hose, City24x7's CEO Tom Touchet promised. The devices will eventually allow users to check their e-mail, make Skype calls, and double as Wi-Fi hotspots.
The screens will generate ad revenue in the future, of which the city will get 36 percent, though not during this pilot phase. The city won't be charged for the install or the devices themselves either. New Yorkers will also be reminded of tax deadlines, informed of the bike-share program, and advertise public park events as well. Current payphones generate about $18 million per year through paid calls and advertising.
Underground payphones will also be redone with 22-inch touchscreens. They will have cameras and electrical outlets that will let users charge their phones when they buy web access.