smart screens in New York

Bringing interactive civic information to the street

A public-private partnership in New York is bringing interactive smart screens to the streets to support open data, citizen engagement and a vibrant digital community.

City24/7, together with Cisco, LG Electronics and New York’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, is installing more than 250 smart screens in the five boroughs.

The company’s interactive platform incorporates touch, voice and audio-technology, providing information from open government programs, local businesses and citizens via connected sensors, monitors and intelligent data tools. 

Cities are beginning to explore processing data coming from Internet-connected devices such as video cameras, parking sensors and air quality monitors to increase public safety, improve the environment and better the quality of life for citizens.

The “Internet of Everything” system combines the power of smart infrastructure with the ubiquity of smart phones to bring broadcasts and customized information to citizens, say its creators.

“City24/7 can even protect city inhabitants by alerting authorities citywide through intelligent networks when resources are needed in a specific area,” said Tom Touchet, president and CEO of City24/7, in an April Cisco blog post. “Since it’s interactive, the network is also learning what those citizens want and need, providing dense analytic data. These insights can be used by city managers to plan new programs and improve the efficiency of current systems, with the goal of making cities more convenient, comfortable and thriving.”

The smart-screen kiosks feature hyper-local information, such as the arrival time of the next train uptown to the closest farmers’ market. They also allow the city to push information to citizens.

“The ultimate goal of City24/7 is to power two-way, real-time communication among city governments, businesses, and citizens to enable Smart Cities of the future,” said Cisco’s Jeff Frazier and City27/7’s Touchet in a paper on the technology.

Roll out of the screens began in late 2012, with the conversion of rarely-used telephone booths in and around Union Square into the LCD smart screens, providing information such as neighborhood news, events, entertainment listings and local deals.

Additionally, the smart screens also provide free Wi-Fi access. They are equipped with near-field communications and Bluetooth, and they are handicap accessible – physical, visual and auditory – and have multiple language capabilities.

Once all screens are installed, Cisco and City24/7 hope to expand the program to more than a dozen U.S. and international cities.

According to Cisco research, over 50 billion devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020.

About the Author

Kathleen Hickey is a freelance writer for GCN.

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