New York City today became the first city in the nation to deploy a network of technologically advanced, publicly accessible touch-screens on neighborhood streets.
The ground-breaking communication network -- called City24/7 -- uses fully interactive pedestrian billboards called "SmartScreens" to broadcast neighborhood news, current events and entertainment listings, local deals and specials. Multiple mobile apps are accessible through the 32-inch multi-touch LG screens -- connecting New Yorkers to the "best of the best" city information. Content is also fed directly to mobile and web platforms.
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the City24/7 network will initially focus on community revitalization and highlight volunteering opportunities and projects citywide. This focus is true to the company's mission, which is to help:
- Inform - by instantly connecting people with information that is relevant to their immediate proximity
- Protect - by using instant alert systems and real-time communication
- Revitalize - by increasing neighborhood commerce, investment, and tourism
City24/7 is built as a pure public/private partnership, providing multiple services to New Yorkers at no cost to the City or to users. The initial launch of City24/7, in partnership with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT), consists of up to ten installations in existing payphone booths around Union Square. Over the next several months, the number of installations will increase to up to 250 participating phone booths throughout the five boroughs.
The City24/7 rollout will take place in two phases. The first phase, which has already begun, involves deploying 250 Smart Screens throughout New York City. As these systems are implemented, City24/7, Cisco, and the City of New York will further integrate the platform with the addition of mobile applications, safety and security capabilities, city information feeds, and location-based advertising.
Once the Smart Screens have reached critical mass in New York City, City24/7 and Cisco plan to start the second phase, which includes expansion to more than a dozen U.S. and international cities. The SmartScreens are designed to use real-time, location-based services, tied in to the network throughout the city. City24/7 also provides a channel for the City to broadcast vital information, real-time news and transit updates. In addition, the street locations have free Wi-Fi access, and are equipped with near-field communications and Bluetooth.
"Our network is built on the idea that you should be able to connect and activate information through any device -- anywhere," said Tom Touchet, president and CEO of City24/7. "We're excited to help power daily communications to the streets of New York, and to immediately and directly give back to the communities we serve."
The City24/7 network takes advantage of New York City's innovative digital road map, hitting on four of the key points: providing "Access for All," utilizing Open Government Information, promoting citizen-centric engagement and supporting a vibrant digital community through partnerships.
To ensure that everyone can access the information, the City24/7 network utilizes a number of cutting-edge technologies designed to assist with usability.
The devices are equipped with numerous accessibility features -- some developed by City24/7 -- such as screen repositioning for wheelchair accessibility, headphone access for the hearing impaired and key-fob access for the vision impaired. They also have multiple language capabilities which include: English, Spanish, Russian, Mandarin Chinese.
The Light House for the Blind and the New York chapter of the National Federation of the Blind have also endorsed City24/7 for their support of people with disabilities.
City24/7's SmartScreen displays -- a new digital design by LG Electronics for delivering messages in outdoor spaces -- are protected with steel casings, ATM-strength screens and able to withstand extreme weather. They also contain backup batteries to assist if power is disrupted.
"Our ruggedized outdoor high-definition LED touch-screen monitors were designed to be intuitive and user-friendly, and we are pleased to enable such an innovative project with our touch solutions," said Y.K. Cho, B2B senior vice president of LG Electronics USA. "This innovative application showcases LG innovations that help create an interactive and engaging experience."
The Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) Global Public Sector Practice helps governments create a vision of the future by helping leaders understand the benefits of using innovative technology to transform government processes and public services.
"For the first time in history, cities are now home to more than half of the Earth's population. These cities have become 'single-world' urban areas -- tied together by communication networks. Knowledge from these networks provides valuable insights to governments, people, and businesses -- both large and small -- to change industries, serve people, increase productivity, and create relevant consumer experiences," said Jeff Frazier, Senior Director, Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group. "Cities that lead future progress will utilize networked knowledge like that being created by City24/7 to become more safe, more busy, and more vibrant."
City24/7's SmartScreens emphasize community. All content is targeted down to the machine -- helping drive local initiatives, small business and retail growth on a neighborhood level. In addition, the company "gives back" a percentage of its ad revenue to local non-profit programs.
"Union Square is one of the most vibrant, active neighborhoods in the city with countless dining, shopping, entertainment, cultural and nightlife options at any given moment. The City24/7 technology provides neighborhoods with a tremendous resource to reach the public, and gives visitors everything they need to know about where they are in a convenient, user-friendly format," said Jennifer Falk, executive director of the Union Square Partnership, who worked with City24/7 to bring the pilot to the neighborhood.
City24/7's collection of the "best of" New York content providers includes Zagat, Google Places, Roadify, CityMaps, TheaterMania, community partners and other content providers. City24/7 also has mobile, tablet and web platforms allowing content to be seamlessly pushed to those devices.
In New York, City24/7 is launching its network in the existing payphone infrastructure. The company is excited to have partners including Telebeam and Coastal Communications who are interested in exploring future uses for the public telephones that grow their benefit to the City.
Through DoITT, the City of New York administers public pay telephone franchises that allow for the installation and maintenance of coin-operated payphones on city sidewalks. Today, there are approximately 11,500 payphones across the five boroughs. As part of a pilot program, DoITT has granted authorization for City24/7 to install "SmartScreens" in up to 250 existing payphone locations. City24/7 will be responsible for maintenance and/or repair of the SmartScreens for the life of the pilot program. No taxpayer money will be spent on the program, and the service will be free to all users.
City24/7 is a revolutionary interactive communications network that integrates content from open government sources, local businesses and citizens to provide meaningful and powerful knowledge anytime, anywhere, on any device... from the street to mobile to the web. Following a New York City launch, City24/7 plans to expand its network nationwide and across the globe. For more information, visit www.smartcity24x7.com
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