That much discussed network in New York City that plans to replace old sidewalk pay-phones with interactive information and alert stations is starting to hit the street, and the guys behind the project have wisely found people who understand the importance of ruggedizing the hell out of the units.
The City 24×7 smart screens are being built by a suburban Toronto company called Design Science Corp , which includes Ralph Idems, who has years and years of direct experience developing analog and digital street furniture for big OOH media companies through Vertigo.
A new press release says:
City 24×7’s SmartScreen Kiosk Project is replacing old NYC phone boxes with 32-inch internet-connected touchscreens, with an initial rollout in May of 250 units across the city’s five boroughs. SmartScreens could eventually replace all of NYC’s 12,800 aging and little used outdoor pay phones as contracts expire over the next two years.
Design Science has vast experience in designing and manufacturing rugged, weather-sealed but aesthetically-pleasing analog and digital street furniture for outdoor media companies and commercial real estate groups, and has applied that knowledge to a unique smart screen built for the Big Apple.
“We understand all the challenges of weather, daylight glare and public usage, and are confident that the integrated system we’ve developed are not only up to the task, but will be embraced by New Yorkers,” says Idems, Director of Technology of Design Science.
The free-to-use touch-screen technology is fully interactive and will display local neighborhood information, including lists of nearby restaurants, store sales in the area, traffic updates, landmark information and safety alerts — in multiple languages. The network, supported by advertising and partnership, is intended to give New Yorkers and visitors quick access to whatever information they need, and is tied to a related mobile program.
Nice deal if this project gets beyond the trial stages and really rolls out to 1,000s of sites across the boroughs. The business model is not entirely fixed on Digital OOH, and the guys behind the company have some actual media chops (still too rare in startups).
I’ll be keen to see these when next in New York.
Disclosure: I have done work here and there for Design Science, which has developed some really intriguing battery-powered displays intended for retail.