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Projects aim to reinvent New York City payphones

Posting in Cities

New York City manages more than 11,000 telephone booths throughout its five boroughs. As you can imagine, they don't get as much use as they used to.

Because the current payphone vendor agreements are set to expire in 2014, this past winter, the City began soliciting proposals for reinventing payphones. In the last couple weeks, the finalists revealed their proposals, which had to meet the following criteria:

  • Ability to connect New Yorkers and enable them to communicate, including in emergency situations
  • Originality and creativity
  • Design, visual appeal and ease of user experience
  • Functionality, sustainability and scalability
  • Support of local community, including residents and businesses

Here are some of the proposed projects:

'Windchimes'

This proposal would turn each payphone into an environmental sensing station that would record city rain levels, pollution and other environmental conditions. The data could help users plan their bike commutes so the wind would always be at their back; help urban farmers tend to their plots; care for asthmatic children by noting air-quality metrics.

NYC Loop

NYC Loop would tailor each payphone to the surrounding community, while also using the energy from the steps of passersby to power the booth, which would also feature a projector that would create an "information puddle" display on the nearby sidewalk that would feature the work of local artists or advertisements.

NYC I/O: Responsive City

NYC I/O would turn the payphones into digital nodes that have both sensors to collect information and a display to give users information. The vision is that users could even use the kiosks to pay for their parking spots, notify the community of a missing cat or even be used to call a cab.

Related on SmartPlanet:

via: Reinvent Payphones

photo: NYC I/O

— By on March 19, 2013, 8:03 PM PST

Laura Shin

Features Editor

Laura Shin has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles Times, and is currently a contributor at Forbes. Previously, she worked at Newsweek, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and LearnVest. She holds degrees from Stanford University and Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure