Official TEKConn Blog

NYC gets a makeover, replaces payphones with touch-screen kiosks

A new initiative in New York City will replace aging payphones with touch-screen information kiosks.

A new initiative in New York City will replace aging payphones with touch-screen information kiosks.

Remember those booths that Clark Kent would sneak into and miraculously come out as Superman a split second later? They were home to what has since become a relic of a bygone era: payphones.

New York City officials thought it was time to reinvent that which was made obsolete by cell phones. In a partnership with Cisco Systems and City 24/7, they are turning old payphones throughout the boroughs into touch-screen information kiosks, or "Smart Screens."

The Smart Screens will boast 32-inch displays with internet access and a wealth of information about local shops, restaurants and events in NYC. One can even get traffic updates, which can be helpful because it's New York City – there's going to be traffic.

By dragging these ancient payphones into the 21st century, the city stands to make a pretty penny. Think of all the advertisements local businesses can pay to plaster on Smart Screens everywhere. According to a recent GigaOM article, area entrepreneurs will even be able to offer digital coupons to those who stop to use one of these kiosks.

The news source adds that Smart Screens have been field tested at Penn Station and other locations and have been treated by users as valuable public property, though City 24/7 CEO Tom Touchet said that they can handle anything New Yorkers can dish out and that they can be easily spray-cleaned.

"There's a reason we started with pay phones," Touchet said. "They're legacy infrastructure that the city can utilize and revitalize quickly."

This is yet another signifier that New York City is becoming one of the nation's leading technology hubs. With countless startups heading for the Big Apple and the streets being revamped with such projects, the sky is the limit.

Taking advantage of new tools like these Smart Screens, combined with the right NYC IT consulting and a little creativity, and a business can stake its claim in one of the most challenging yet rewarding cities on the planet.