In today’s smartphone environment, payphones are just not very useful – so New York has taken it upon itself to reinvent the nature of public communication kiosks. It’s a brilliant design and even users with a personal smartphone will receive benefits because it will offer free WiFi from approximately 10,000 locations throughout the city’s boroughs.
New York city Mayor, Bill de Blasio said, “This administration has committed to making New York City work better for every community, and this RFP for free outdoor Wi-Fi is a down payment on that promise.” He added, “For years, the question was, ‘What to do with payphones?’ and now we have an answer. By using a historic part of New York’s street fabric, we can significantly enhance public availability of increasingly-vital broadband access, invite new and innovative digital services, and increase revenue to the city—all at absolutely no cost to taxpayers.”
The Office of the Mayor also announced a Request for Proposal (RFP), which will be using these criteria:
Designs will be evaluated on the basis of functional efficiency, aesthetics, security, durability, adaptability for various environments around the city—including historic districts and individual landmarks—and accommodation of people with disabilities. Preference will be given to proposals that demonstrate the greatest public benefit from the services and the local economic opportunities presented by this initiative. In addition to the creation of new jobs for the development, servicing and maintenance of the communication structures, the city expects that the services themselves will help support job seekers, freelancers, residents in need of affordable broadband services, small businesses, the local tech industry, and visitors.
Once chosen, the winning design and team will be constructed and maintained across all five boroughs. The 10,000 kiosks will replace the existing 7,300 public payphones. The WiFi kiosk will also provide information for city travelers and tourists and well as an emergency post for making calls to 911 and 311 while collecting $17.5 million in ad revenue. They might also provide charging stations for personal devices as well as any other fantastic ideas a designer might propose.