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NYC turns 250 pay phones into giant touch screens

Posting in Cities

New York City launched a plan today to swap out 250 old school pay phones with giant touch screens that incorporate touch, voice and audio tech and display information, services and offerings, like coupons, in real time.

The interactive platform, developed by City 24/7 and Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group, aims to provide an up-to-the-minute public communication system for the city.

The smart screens, which look like giant iPads, will focus on hyper-local information. Meaning, updates, safety alerts and business ads will focus on two-square city blocks, according to a City 24/7 and Cisco white paper on its proposal. The screens will feature city events and programs, real-time transit updates, targeted community information and "exclusive" Groupon promotions, according to information on City 24/7's website.

The screens also can be accessed via Wi-Fi on nearby smartphones, tablets and laptop computers. The touch screens, which were tested in pilot project, have been approved for an initial launch of 250 units in NYC's five boroughs.

That's just a tiny fraction of the more than 12,300 public pay phones regulated by the city. For now. Once the smart screens have reached "critical mass" in New York City, a second phase will begin, which includes expansion to Los Angeles and London, followed closely by other major cities in the U.S. and around the world, according to the two companies.

U.S. cities will include Boston, Chicago, Miami, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, Tampa and Washington D.C. International cities will include Amsterdam, Barcelona, Milan, Munich, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul, Toronto and Vancouver, the companies said.

Photo: City 24x7

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— By on November 20, 2012, 1:32 AM PST

Kirsten Korosec

Contributing Editor

Kirsten Korosec has written for Technology Review, Marketing News, The Hill, BNET and Bloomberg News. She holds a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. She is based in Tucson, Arizona. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure