With 85 percent of adults owning a cellphone, pay phones over the last decade have become nearly obsolete. Where a pay phone once stood is often a barren, graffiti-covered shell stripped of its communication device. New York City is looking to bring these booths and stands back to life with technology that's instep with modern time.
According to the New York Post, 250 telephone booths will be retrofitted with 32-inch, Internet-ready touchscreens that will include information about the local neighborhood, such as things to do, shops and restaurants. They will also inform city-goers of local events and safety alerts. The touchscreens could eventually be used to check email or serve as wireless hotspots, and one of the best parts, all this information and access is expected to be served free of charge.
The Post has more:
“The goal is to pilot it and see what the response is,” said Nicholas Sbordone, a spokesman for the city’s department of Information Technology & Telecommunications.
“It will help inform the city’s ongoing reassessment, with public input, of what we want or what we think the future of public pay phones will entail.”
Check out this local ABC News report on the project:
Concerned about the germs, as many New Yorkers might be? The Post reports the franchise installing the machines, City24x7, said they are water-proof, dust-proof, and "built to be cleaned with a jet hose."
According to the Post, the touchscreen upgrade is not costing the city anything and it will even get a cut of the revenue from advertising. Eventually, all 12,800 payphones in the city could be replaced in this manner.
Here's City24x7's promo video on the project:
The touchscreens are expected to have measures to limit certain searches, preventing visits to illicit websites or anonymous and nefarious online activity.