New York City will launch a pilot program in which it will replace pay phones throughout the city with touch-screen like tablets. The program is scheduled to begin in May and will specifically target 250 of the city's 12,800 public pay phones to be replaced by the touch-screen kiosks. The kiosks will allow users to access local information in 10 different languages, according to Information Week.
The 32-inch touch-screen systems, which are made by City 24/7, will provide access to NYC 311- a website that supplies city information and government services. The kiosks will be free to access and will allow users to retrieve information about local restaurants, nearby stores, real-time transit updates and tourist attractions. The tablet is expected to generate revenue through local advertising.
The city eventually hopes to turn the booths into Wi-Fi hot spots and to include other services such as Skype and e-mail access, though these services are not expected to be made available during the pilot program. The tablets will also sport a dust-proof and waterproof screen so they can be cleaned with a jet hose, dismissing sanitation concerns.
The smart booths are the latest in a series of tech modernization initiatives undertaken by the city and they could completely replace all of the city's outdoor pay phones, whose contract expires in October 2014.