Tech and the City

Touchscreen Guides Are Coming to 250 More Phone Booths Across NYC

A reason to use phone booths!
screen shot 2012 11 19 at 6 43 58 pm Touchscreen Guides Are Coming to 250 More Phone Booths Across NYC

(Photo: City 24×7)

A few months ago, City 24×7 teamed up with the city of New York to create touchscreen neighborhood directories in phone booths across the city. Today, in partnership with Cisco, the company announced that it’s rolling out the high tech public communications systems to 250 more phone booths across the New York area.

Each phone booth is outfitted with a 32-inch touchscreen device that offers directory information, city news and alerts, transportation schedules, restaurants and maps. City 24×7 has partnered with a host of companies to bring up-to-the minute info to each booth.

“You can get your real time train alerts, best New York restaurants through Zagat, green market information through Grow NYC, theater tickets through Theater Mania,” said Tom Touchet, City 24×7′s CEO. City 24×7 has also partnered with CityMaps for hyperlocal maps for each booth, and will provide services for those who are disabled and have difficulty using a standard pay phone.

The new touchscreen platforms will serve as an alternative vehicle to deliver city announcements and information. It will host some ads, primarily for local mom and pop shops, which will help pay for the device’s upkeep.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, when cell phone networks were experiencing major outages and power was out across swaths of the city making it difficult to charge cell phones, suddenly high tech city dwellers had a use for payphones. Many were seen lining up to make phone calls from a technology that until then had seemed obsolete.

With backup battery power, the touchscreens could effectively keep running in the event of a power outage, providing important city alerts to residents in the event of a similar crisis. “They come equipped with backup battery power, which will keep them running for hours but not weeks,” Mr. Touchet said. “That said, we are working on a green roof to augment and extend the battery life.”

City 24×7 is already looking for more places to deploy the touchscreens. “There are a lot of other places that we’re talking about deploying,” Mr. Touchet explained. “Any place that a city wants to impact urban flow in a positive way: bus stations, subway stations, campuses. It’s designed to align with the city and to get their info out in a way that helps people.”

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