New York has become the first US city to introduce a network of publicly accessible interactive displays on its streets offering information such as neighbourhood news, information feeds and location-based advertising.
Called City24/7, the initiative will be rolled-out in two phases. The first phase, which has already begun, sees 250 of the ‘smart screens’ being deployed throughout the city, many in existing payphone booths. Once the Smart Screens have reached critical mass in New York City, City24/7 and Cisco plan to start the second phase, which includes expansion to more than a dozen US and international cities.
The smart screens are designed to use real-time, location-based services, tied in to the network throughout the city. City24/7 also provides a channel for the city to broadcast vital information, real-time news and transit updates. In addition, the street locations have free Wi-Fi access, and are equipped with near-field communications and Bluetooth.
"Our network is built on the idea that you should be able to connect and activate information through any device - anywhere," said Tom Touchet, president and CEO of City24/7. "We're excited to help power daily communications to the streets of New York, and to immediately and directly give back to the communities we serve."
City24/7 is being built as a public/private partnership providing, it claims, multiple services to New Yorkers at no cost to the city or to users. The initial launch of City24/7, in partnership with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), consists of up to 10 installations in existing payphone booths around Union Square.
City24/7's ‘smart screen’ displays are protected with steel casings, ATM-strength screens and able to withstand extreme weather. They also contain backup batteries to assist if power is disrupted. The devices are equipped with a number of accessibility features such as screen repositioning for wheelchair users, headphone access for the hearing impaired and key-fob access for the vision impaired. They also have multiple language capabilities which include: English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin Chinese.