New York City is reinventing its payphones, and digital signage seems to be a key component to the payphone future.
The city has issued the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge, asking "How can New York City reinvent payphones to make our city more accessible, safer, healthier, greener and better informed?" and last night named six finalist designs.
Five of the six designs make digital signage a key part of the potential future payphone kiosk, and most of them turn the concept into an informational center with touch- and gesture-enabled screens. (And anyone can vote on the new designs at the City of New York's Facebook page.)
According to the contest website, there are several reasons for the contest, including one for why to keep payphones in the cellphone age:
WHY: Current payphone vendor agreements expire in 2014, creating opportunities for innovation.
WHO: The City is currently gathering feedback on the future of payphones. As part of this effort, the City is inviting students, urban planners, designers, technologists, architects, creators and legal and policy experts to build physical and/or virtual prototypes imagining a new public utility through payphone infrastructure.
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WHAT: The City manages a telecommunications network of 11,412 public payphones throughout the five boroughs. Payphone use has decreased with mobile device adoption, but payphones still serve the communications needs of thousands of New Yorkers a day, especially in times of emergency.
Municipal advertising sales giant Titan partnered with New York City-based technology and design firm Control Group for a design submission that won the "Community Impact Award" for their submission.
The Titan/Control Group team was one of six award winners named in last night's "Reinvent Payphones Demo Day." The City is now putting out a call for the public to select the best of the six award winners. Participants can vote via Facebook for their favorites before March 15.
Control Group and Titan called their entry "NYC I/O: The Responsive City" and called it a concept that "reflects the transformation of the corner payphone into a digital hub that will usher in a new era of 'The Responsive City.'"
"Our submission, 'NYC I/O: The Responsive City,' updates the payphone with a modern array of sensors and displays to create a foundational input/output system for an open, urban-scale computing platform, which would allow New York City to respond to and serve the people in a way never done before," said Colin O'Donnell, partner and COO for the Control Group, in a joint announcement from the companies. "Through open access to real-time data and a distribution platform for community, civic, arts and commercial apps and messaging, we can create a safer, more efficient and more enjoyable city."
The contest is not the formal RFP for the city's payphone contract, but it was put forth to spur ideas for the eventual issuance of the RFP, accoridng to the announcement. Titan said it currently has the largest franchise, secured through October 2014, and offers an inventory of phone kiosks in New York City with 2,552 payphones at 1,762 phone kiosk locations throughout the five boroughs. Titan will be submitting for the official RFP in 2014 with Control Group as their technology partner.
"We have been passionate about the payphone and its place in the city-scape since we acquired Verizon's New York City inventory in 2009 and 2010," said Scott Goldsmith, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Titan. "We thought this competition was a great way for the city to generate excitement around what the future of this historic portal could look like. Payphones have served us well, but it's time we address the needs and changes in the way people communicate in the digital age."
Watch a video of the Titan/Control Group concept below:
And here's another video demo, from design firm frog:
Learn more about interactive digital signage.