Smartphones have long since overtaken sidewalk payphones as the dominant form of mobile communication but New York City hopes to breathe new life into the dying technology.  Last week Cicso Systems and City 24/7 teamed up with New York City to begin their plan to introduce a new generation of payphone to the public.

Free internet and phone touchscreen kiosks in NYC.

The newest iteration of payphone has very little in common with its predecessor.  The new models consist of a 32-inch touchscreen and offer a wide array of phone and internet based services.  People can use the interactive kiosks to get information on local restaurants, nearby stores, tourist attractions, and traffic updates. The booths also provide access to local safety alerts and live news updates. All of this is offered for free to the public and paid for by local advertising.

Cisco and City 24/7 plans to have completed installation of 250 kiosks throughout the five boroughs by the beginning of 2013.  NYC hopes that the kiosks will be a success in their initial test market and wants to eventually replace all 12,800 outdoor payphones with the new models.

While the new interactive kiosks are definitely interesting and an improvement over public payphones the question is are they valuable enough to justify their existence?  Tourists to NYC are likely to gain the most benefit from the new technology but for locals they are likely to be a curiosity at best.  For all of our local readers we ask, would you ever consider using the public terminals over your own smart phones?  Let us know in the comments below.

– Richard Keene
IT Computer Support of New York
Design and Optimization Department