NYC OKs Massive Digital Street Directory Project

November 17, 2014 by Dave Haynes


New York City has announced the winners of a pitch to replace its 1,000s of  old payphone booths with LinkNYC, sleek new interactive touchscreen stations that will offer free WiFi, free VOIP calling in the US, charging stations and variety of directory services.

The devices will also connect people to 911 services and push out alerts during emergencies.

The whole thing will be paid for by advertising in a concession won by Titan, with $500 million projected over a dozen years, the city getting half.

Scott Goldsmith, the chief commercial officer at Titan, said the new street-level stations will “revolutionize how advertising is delivered in the biggest media market in the world.”

The project is a consortium, called CityBridge, that includes Titan, telecom hardware giant Qualcomm, NYC-based UX design firm Control Group, and hardware manufacturer Comark. The stations will roll out beginning next year and could cap out at as many as 10,000.

The city hopes to make money off selling decommissioned payphones, which seems about as attractive as buying used bedsheets from a tuberculosis ward. But, who knows …

The award is the culmination of some two years of pilot projects and design contests.

Interestingly, the award is being pitched primarily on the basis of New Yorkers getting “the world’s largest and fastest free municipal Wi-Fi network with up to gigabit speeds – which is 100 times faster than the average public Wi-Fi and 20 times faster than the average home Internet service in NYC.”

But will it stay speedy when people in lower-level apartments shut down their TimeWarner accounts and use the free service to watch NetFlix?

Anyway … in the old New York, the idea of putting expensive screens made of shiny metal and expensive glass on the streets was pretty laughable, in that they’d last about a day. New York is a different city now, and there are more and more examples of “street furniture” with embedded daylight-readable displays.

On the other hand, a $10,000 (my guess) unit on 7th and 32nd has a much higher survival outlook than one way out in one of the boroughs, like the Bronx.

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