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Giant Touchscreens Coming To NYC Phone Booths 124

Posted by Soulskill
from the clark-kent-can-play-angry-birds-while-he-changes dept.
An anonymous reader writes "New York City is planning an upgrade to its aging pay-phone infrastructure. A pilot program will next month install 32-inch touchscreens in 250 phone booths throughout the city. The screens will display "local neighborhood information, including lists of nearby restaurants, store sales in the area, traffic updates, landmark information and safety alerts — in multiple languages.' They will facilitate the 311 service, and also allow people to file complaints or request city information. The good news is that these screens won't cost the taxpayers anything. The bad news is that they will be supported by advertising. The plan is to eventually support Skype calls and email, and to integrate Wi-Fi hotspots."
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Giant Touchscreens Coming To NYC Phone Booths

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  • by CoderExpert (2613949) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:31PM (#39621271)
    Considering the high cost of 32" touch screens, and their almost non-existing serviceability (once you break it, it's gone), is this really such a good idea? It will probably just lead to stealing and breaking, especially during night time. The pay phones itself aren't that expensive, and consists of several parts that you can fix (and they are bulky). These touch screens are.

    Besides, even if "tax payers don't need to pay for them and they will be supported by advertising", they will have to eat the costs initially. Advertising will just recoup the cost in the long run, IF it's successful project.
    • by pankkake (877909) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:36PM (#39621325) Homepage

      Even with normal use I doubt they will last long. Or stay clean.

    • by MightyYar (622222)

      I lived in NYC until recently. In Manhattan, there are already big-screen TVs mounted to things like subway entrances - easily within reach of vandalism. So either vandalism and theft aren't a big deal, or the advertising is lucrative enough to pay for it.

      Clean is another issue. :)

    • by pz (113803)

      A big screen like that is going to be too much of a temptation for baseball-bat wielding ne'er-do-wells.

      • Not just bats. Here we have huge problems with idiots scribing gang symbols and slogans into anything with a glass pane using diamond rings.

        I would bet there will be all sorts of graffiti etched into the screens in no time.
        • by ZorinLynx (31751)

          That's easy to mitigate with a sacraficial layer of plexiglass over the front. Once it gets scratched and damaged enough, just replace it. This is what they do for posters and TV screens in the subway.

    • by Chuckstar (799005)

      Apparently you did not RTFA. The city sold franchise rights to a company called City24x7, who will install and maintain the kiosks at its own expense. During the pilot program (250 units), the city gets 0% of the ad revenue. If the program is rolled out permanently, the city will get 36% of ad revenue.

      Net cost to NYC taxpayers -- $0.

    • This is government. The need for 250 will cause them to make an order for 30,000 displays to cover replacements and to cover defective ones which, for some reason, it accepts broken out of he box.

      They will cost $3,000 each due to the extra chemically resistant screen that can handle vicious spraypaint removal sprays. Still, 1 of 3 will be broken by a worker trying to chip off the paint, the other two of three are already broken as I type this.

    • by Larryish (1215510)

      I vote for stealing.

      Haven't been to the Rotten Apple in years, might take a trip up there and price some touchscreen monitors.

      Oh hold on, I need to find a computer store... "Excuse me, sir or madam, where is the nearest telephone booth?"

  • by Kenja (541830) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:35PM (#39621307)
    Finally I can get rid of this annoying cell-phone.
  • What the fuck is a 'phone booth?'

    Anything like those horseless carriages I keep hearing so much about?
    • ...and ask if he hears you.

      You young people with your fancy Model-Ts and internal combustion engines. My Stanley Steamer is good enough for me.

    • by LoRdTAW (99712) on Monday April 09, 2012 @04:00PM (#39622225)

      What the fuck is a 'phone booth?'

      A bathroom.

  • install 32-inch touchscreens in every remaining phone booths throughout the city.

    There, fixed that for you.

  • We live in the age of 20 dollar disposable cellphones. Enough with the anachronisms. Let the phone booth die.

    • by mhajicek (1582795)
      You can bet the legislation for this was lobbied for by the company that would supply and install them.
    • by CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:49PM (#39621481)

      Obviously since they will use the touchscreen to display information they are trying to morph them into "information kiosks" which also provide a public payphone. Doesn't sound like an awful idea, especially in a city that attracts as many tourists as N.Y.

    • by bws111 (1216812)

      They are booth-like structures which FORMERLY housed telephones. Now they are being reused as information kiosks.

    • by rossdee (243626)

      So Superheroes have somewhere to put on their costumes...

      And the Newt for President campaign has a place to meet

    • What we really need are cellphone dispensers.

    • Personally, I think it'd be nice to have a usable landline available within reachable distance from my position in case there is interference (wireless, concussive, or otherwise) that prevents my cell phone from working when I actually need to use a phone, no matter the rarity of the occasion.

      Your post reminds me of the Tennesee man who didn't pay his firefighter fees and was upset the firefighters didn't help his house from not burning down despite offering to pay for it no matter the cost.

      On the other han

      • I thought you were trolling....
        No firefighter would refuse service would they? (Send a bill later, sure, but not help?)
        http://www.wpsdlocal6.com/news/local/Firefighters-watch-as-home-burns-to-the-ground-104052668.html [wpsdlocal6.com]
        Well I'll be a gnat's ass on a landmine...

          • by Thing 1 (178996)
            It saddens me to live in such a society. Yes, that's right, I just said that some socialistic value was greater than the apparently capitalist value that allowed these public servants to let someone's house burn to the ground. Wow, I'm so un-American. Welfare.
        • The solution in such communities is volunteer firefighter departments. They were once the national norm. They don't work well in large cities but they work very well in suburban or rural communities were it is unlikely that you'll have overlap between different departments. The idea is very simple. The community either through donations or taxes sets up a non-profit. They either donate or tax what is needed to buy a building and fire truck. Then local membersof the community basically join a club. The fire

        • I'm not being funny but if the local government require everyone to pay $75 which funds the fire service (rather than just bundling it into local taxes as most places do) can you really complain if you didn't pay? When you say "Send a bill later" do you mean a bill for $75 or a bill of the actual cost of responding to and putting out a fire. That cost would certainly run to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.

          I am sure that if anyone's life was at stake they would have saved them but protecting someon

          • I get what you're saying, but my expectation would be (given an 'optional' payment like in this case):
            Roll the trucks, put out the blaze.
            Later settle the accounts: You didn't pay the $75, so you were not "insured" as it were. Here is a bill for services, and no it can't be liquidated through Ch7/11/13 because like a tax debt, it is from the government. The bill gets first dibbs on your insurance payout. It would suck, but it seems more sensible.

            My wife's grandfather had a field fire, the dept came and p

            • That would be reasonable except I can't imagine any insurance company would cover someone in this situation.

              Giving someone insurance against fire damage when they have chosen to forego paying for fire protection would be a hugely irresponsible act for an insurance company.

              So in your hypothetical situation the fire service would be in the position of trying to charge someone, who is already facing extensive costs in repairing fire damage, thousands of dollars for their services.

      • walk into a store, restaurant, or hotel and ask nicely to use the phone with reversed charges or offer to pay for the privilege in cash. Most such places will be happy to offer you the phone for local calls at no charge. And most places will be flexible enough to work something out... just buy a muffin or something.

        We don't need to put phone booths all over the place. They're not even putting them in bars anymore. Think about that. there was a time when a corner of every bar had a couple coin op public phon

  • by alen (225700) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:42PM (#39621411)

    really?

    i can't remember the last time i have seen one. even the people in the housing projects mostly have smart phones now. only the old luddites don't have them

    • Does 2600 still have photos of phone booths from around the world on the back cover? That was the highlight of my month back in my teenage years...
    • They go by a different name in the NYC area. We call them "public restrooms" or "Port-a-Johns" more popularly.

      The major problem with this plan is that the kiosk touchscreens will probably be turned on 24/7, cycling through pictures, ads, etc. How are the homeless people who inevitably take up residence in these booths going to be able to sleep if the screen is constantly running?
    • by Hatta (162192)

      Luddites, or misers. I still can't find a cell phone plan that's cheaper than my land line. Given that I've lived 30 years without the need for a cell phone, I don't see the point in taking on extra expenses for no real benefit.

      • by alen (225700)

        cell phones have this cool feature of unlimited minutes to cell phones on the same network and on nights and weekends. some carriers will give you unlimited minutes to any cell on any network

  • I feel like it will only be about a week or so until these begin getting hacked by someone wanting to mess around.
  • are they protected against urine?
  • by Iniamyen (2440798) on Monday April 09, 2012 @02:55PM (#39621539)
    How could chatroulette get any worse? Now I know.
  • What a wonderful idea - they should have done this 20 years ago!!! In as much as the technology to do anything these are planned to do is in 75% or so of the cellphone using public, who would have been the ones interested enough to use them back then. What will they think of next? Lamp, mounted right on the fenders of the carriages so we can see to drive them at night???
  • ....and why would I want to touch one? Especially in New York City.

    I remember that other public resource for street information, the yellow pages. But it was hard to find a set in a phone booth that hadn't been pissed on.

    • I remember that other public resource for street information, the yellow pages. But it was hard to find a set in a phone booth that hadn't been pissed on.

      There's yellow, and then there's really yellow.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why the heck do I need a 32" touch screen in my suicide booth?

  • Cool (Score:4, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Monday April 09, 2012 @03:01PM (#39621607) Journal

    I expect the next Hipster fad to be a genuine touch screen stolen from a NYC phone booth.

  • This sorry endeaviour reeks of political pork-barrell projects and I don't believe that this will cost the tax-payers nothing. Do you really think ad revenue will be enough to provide for the mamouth operating and maintenance costs? It will just be a matter of time before the tax payer needs to get involved. All all of this is to exactly what point? Tear out the phone booths that are really an urban blight. Just about everyone has cell phones and the number of consumers with tablets are growing constan
    • by chrismcb (983081)

      This sorry endeaviour reeks of political pork-barrell projects and I don't believe that this will cost the tax-payers nothing. Do you really think ad revenue will be enough to provide for the mamouth operating and maintenance costs?

      TFA claims

      Between coins and advertising, pay phones currently earn the city about $18 million annually,

      Is this "mamouth operating" cost going to be more than 18 million?

    • by Thing 1 (178996)

      Just about everyone has cell phones and the number of consumers with tablets are growing constantly. Why not take that money and build out WiFi hotspots? Why would I use one of these "phone booths" when I have my own equipment?

      Nonono wait, the government is providing free buggy whips! "Well, at least we can satisfy our S&M fantasies..." (Currently I'm listening to The Wall, and the lyric just before I hit submit: "we don't need no education.")

  • How did you get "replace phones" out of this?

    The screens will display "local neighborhood information, including lists of nearby restaurants, store sales in the area, traffic updates, landmark information and safety alerts — in multiple languages.'...The plan is to eventually support Skype calls and email, and to integrate Wi-Fi hotspots.

    These are street-level digital billboards. There's nothing here to suggest that outbound calls can or ever will be made. (Anyone want to defend "eventually"?)

    • The smart screens will eventually be wired to make Skype calls, log onto e-mail accounts and serve as WiFi hotspots, Touchet said.

      From the article itself.

    • The 22-inch underground touch screens will be equipped with cameras for video applications, as well as electrical outlets so users can charge their phones while buying access to Web, e-mail and apps.

      RTFA much?

      • Underground touch screens?

        That's a novel concept. No, I don't think I'm going to RTFA. I'm just going to let this vision percolate in my brain for awhile, unaided by facts. It's much more amusing this way.

        • They're adding them to the subway system too, albeit in a slight variant. Regarding the fine art of RTFAing, though... I really want to know how xxxJonBoyxxx was able to quote a line mentioning upcoming Skype support and then claim they were just billboards. :\
    • by chrismcb (983081)

      How did you get "replace phones" out of this?

      I'm guessing they got it from the second sentence of the article:

      The pilot program will replace crusty telephones

      or perhaps from the third sentence:

      And the futuristic screens could eventually replace all of the city’s 12,800 outdoor pay phones...

      Those two sentences seem to imply they will be replacing phones. But perhaps I misread them.
      As far as eventually, I assume "eventually" will be as soon as they can prove they'll make more than the $18 million a year they are making now.

  • I can see where the author could get confused. Those aren't for phone booths... those are for new suicide booths. If you think about it.. those make a lot more sense for a city like NY.

  • But can it travel through time?

  • If for no other reason than that we know they still have phone booths in New York City!
    • by Chuckstar (799005)

      There are tons of phone booths left in NYC. I can't remember the last time I saw someone use one to make a phone call*. I think all of the revenue comes from advertising posters mounted on the sides. The fact that there's a phone in there is just an excuse for building the ad space.

      *Just a couple weeks ago I saw someone use one to take a wiz, though.

      • Wow, that's crazy. I haven't been to New York for years, but here in Kansas City, there haven't been any phone booths for years. I saw one a few months ago that was kind of half up at a gas station on my way to Saint Louis. I thought it was interesting enough to take a closer look. When I got closer, I noticed that there was in fact a phone in it. But someone had cut off the receiver. Probably years ago.
  • Bender: Being with you guys is the best time I've ever had. Hey, a suicide booth! So long, suckers!

    Fry: That's not a suicide booth, that's just an ordinary phone booth.

    Leela: What were they for?

    Fry: In New York, public restrooms.

    Leela: I need to stop for a moment.

  • I have a 32" tv in my bedroom and a 52" tv in my living room, but in a phone booth I think 26" would be more than enough.
  • The screens will display "local neighborhood information, including lists of nearby restaurants, store sales in the area, traffic updates, landmark information and safety alerts — in multiple languages.'

    My goodness, that will be *very* nice for the hour they last before being broken, stolen, covered in graffiti and/or soaked with urine.

    • [...] traffic updates [...]

      In a Phone Booth!??

      "So I'm driving along and I wonder what traffic is like. So I hop out of my car and check the phone booth. The first thing I see is that some asshole jumped out of his car right on this street and traffic is slowed down. Fortunately, I'm past it.

      Oh wait. It just cleared up. Hey! Where's my car?!"

      Now I know they're reaching. Why in the world would I want traffic updates in a phone booth?!

  • by kiwimate (458274) on Monday April 09, 2012 @04:00PM (#39622229) Journal

    The good news is that these screens won't cost the taxpayers anything. The bad news is that they will be supported by advertising.

    So how else would you suggest they be paid for? Fairy dust and happy thoughts? Tell me just why this is bad news...

    • The good news is that these screens won't cost the taxpayers anything. The bad news is that they will be supported by advertising.

      So how else would you suggest they be paid for?

      How about with money from people who want to use the service provided by these booths?

  • Are we all living in MeTV?
  • from NYC pay phone booths. Seriously this was not thought out well.
  • What the hell is a phone booth?

  • Then when half of them are smashed and the other half are stolen.....Anyway ARE there any pay phones anymore? And if they build this crap, what will a call cost? $8?

  • So, they're going to do this for all six pay phones in New York City? I should clarify to mean working pay phones. The subways are full of the derelict hulks of formerly working pay phones. Across the five boroughs, pay phones--especially working ones--are as scarce as hen's teeth. Actual step-inside phone booths are even less abundant.
  • In London, it could make tart cards interesting.

  • About as useful as putting a microusb port on a stoneaxe.

  • You mean people pay to use a phone that's not theirs & also has bird flu & bum pee on it?

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