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Giant Touchscreens Coming To NYC Phone Booths

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the clark-kent-can-play-angry-birds-while-he-changes dept.

Communications 124

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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124 comments

Stealing and breaking? (5, Insightful)

CoderExpert (2613949) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Stealing and breaking? (4, Insightful)

pankkake (877909) | about 2 years ago | (#39621325)

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

Re:Stealing and breaking? (5, Funny)

Moheeheeko (1682914) | about 2 years ago | (#39621359)

I wonder if hobo urine streams will push the buttons on it, I guess we will know soon.

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | about 2 years ago | (#39621733)

"we"? Who is volunteering to survey the hobos? Or are you suggesting there are hobos on /.? I guess one of us could go try it out of scientific curiosity...

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

CoderExpert (2613949) | about 2 years ago | (#39621811)

Actually, a few times there have been comments by homeless persons and hobos. So yes, there are hobos on /.

Re:Stealing and breaking? (2)

painandgreed (692585) | about 2 years ago | (#39624449)

Considering the traditional meaning of 'hobo' was a transient male worker that moved across the country from low paying job to low paying job, there probably are a lot of them on /. but we just call them 'application consultants' now.

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1, Interesting)

arisvega (1414195) | about 2 years ago | (#39621393)

Yes, especially with their cameras providing a constant feed on central, eh? Hey! Here is you looting the screen! And here is you urinating! And it's Fox News!

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

lbmouse (473316) | about 2 years ago | (#39621563)

If it gets porn. One can only hope it stays clean.

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

bobcat7677 (561727) | about 2 years ago | (#39621713)

Judging by what I have seen in traditional phone booths, I don't think they will need to be able to access porn for that to be a problem. Usually phone booths I have tried to use have one or more of the following problems in order of likelihood: missing phone book, feces contamination, urine contamination, other bodily fluid contamination, missing/broken handset. Often, one could check the "all of the above" box. People have no respect in today's society.

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

a-zarkon! (1030790) | about 2 years ago | (#39621779)

Excellent - a great new vector for MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) - you may know this better as "flesh-eating bacteria"

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 2 years ago | (#39621781)

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. :)

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

pz (113803) | about 2 years ago | (#39621947)

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

Re:Stealing and breaking? (2)

NeverVotedBush (1041088) | about 2 years ago | (#39623961)

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.

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 years ago | (#39621967)

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.

Re:Stealing and breaking? (1)

Impy the Impiuos Imp (442658) | about 2 years ago | (#39622533)

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.

Question: (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39621319)

What the fuck is a 'phone booth?'

Anything like those horseless carriages I keep hearing so much about?

Re:Question: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621413)

You mean horseDRAWN carriages. Horseless carriages are everywhere nowadays.

Re:Question: (0)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39621521)

Bullfeathers, I meant what I said you whipper-snapper!

What's next, you're going to tell me that taking a picture doesn't require the subject to hold perfectly still for 30 minutes? Poppycock, I say!

Re:Question: (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 2 years ago | (#39623215)

No sir. These days the subject only has to hold still long enough for them to say the word "Cheese" (though adding "eating surrender monkey" helps), within seconds a floppy flexible plastic card pops out all grey, with a white border, and as you sit still and watch the picture automagically appears out of the grey fog in the plastic. if you bend or touch it before the picture has appeared your subjects will appear mutated.

A Phone Booth is so you can call Mr. Watson... (1)

Picass0 (147474) | about 2 years ago | (#39621639)

...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.

Re:A Phone Booth is so you can call Mr. Watson... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621867)

... My Stanley Steamer is good enough for me.

Obligatory "That's what she said."

250 phone booths? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about 2 years ago | (#39621347)

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

There, fixed that for you.

why do you even have phone booths? (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 2 years ago | (#39621353)

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

Re:why do you even have phone booths? (1)

mhajicek (1582795) | about 2 years ago | (#39621423)

You can bet the legislation for this was lobbied for by the company that would supply and install them.

Re:why do you even have phone booths? (4, Insightful)

CharlyFoxtrot (1607527) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:why do you even have phone booths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39622149)

How about making suicide booths?

Re:why do you even have phone booths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39625101)

Given the amount of bacteria in some phone booths, they more or less are suicide booths already.

Re:why do you even have phone booths? (1)

bws111 (1216812) | about 2 years ago | (#39621485)

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

Re:why do you even have phone booths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621495)

OH yes 20 bucks is so much cheaper than 50 cents to make 1 call...

Not everyone wants one.

Or 'damn lost my cell and no one is around'...

I have a cell but I know *many* people to who 20 bucks is a *LOT* of money.

Sounds like they are making them better and a public service at that. If it works fine. If not they probably will rip them out...

Re:why do you even have phone booths? (2)

rossdee (243626) | about 2 years ago | (#39621543)

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

And the Newt for President campaign has a place to meet

Re:why do you even have phone booths? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621667)

20 dollar disposable cell phones that must be recharged on a 24 hour basis or they become paperweights. Not sure if you're a teenager that thinks phone booths are
truly outdated, or just a cell phone salesman.

I've been in many situations where my cell phone had died or I didn't have it on me. People who work at hotels, restaurants and gas stations gave me weird looks when I asked for local information. As if I was some helpless lost child. Our brains are all rewired by our little computers. So asking for directions was immediately putting me in a lower class because I didn't have information access other than meat space. Some people couldn't even recall things without looking them up. I'd have been fine getting the information from a kiosk like this had it been available.

Landlines vs Wireless (1)

CriminalNerd (882826) | about 2 years ago | (#39621771)

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 hand, expensive touchscreens in public phone booths is just asking for trouble.

Re:Landlines vs Wireless (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 2 years ago | (#39623287)

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...

we have phone booths in NYC? (2)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#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

Re:we have phone booths in NYC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621475)

We don't have them in Seattle, at least not that I've ever seen. Wired home phones are getting rare here.

Re:we have phone booths in NYC? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 2 years ago | (#39621553)

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...

Re:we have phone booths in NYC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621609)

Yes although many of them are booths without actual phones now. You can get it on amazon kindle.

Re:we have phone booths in NYC? (2)

paleo2002 (1079697) | about 2 years ago | (#39621649)

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?

Re:we have phone booths in NYC? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#39621705)

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.

Re:we have phone booths in NYC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39622029)

Somewhere, sometime there was a guy saying this about [concept]

$array= [cars
electricity
central A/C
Computer
Internet
Landlines
Credit Cards
Bank Accounts
Freedom
]

while $array
s/[concept]/$array/g

Re:we have phone booths in NYC? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39622275)

In the U.S., Ting [ting.com] might come pretty close to your landline cost - although you have to buy a phone up front. Their (only) feature phone is $100 (Android phones start at $190 for the Optimus S).

There's a fixed $6/month for each device.

Voice, text, and data are all charged separately in tiers. You get billed for the tier you actually end up in so you don't have to guess as to how much you're going to use each month.

Voice tiers start at 100 minutes for $3/month, and 500 minutes for $9/month.

If you don't want text or data (since you're comparing to a landline), you can just disable these features so you don't accidentally incur costs for texts or data.

Multiple phones can share the same pool of minutes/texts/bytes.

No contract is required and there's no activation fee. There are of course taxes etc. on top of the above pricing (which can vary even between cities).

Ting uses Sprint as the primary carrier, but voice/text (not, however, data) roams to Verizon at no cost -- so coverage is very good for voice/text.

So, for 100 minutes a month on one feature phone, the upfront cost is $100 and $9/month thereafter (plus taxes/regulatory fees) - that's cheaper than landlines where I live (esp. if one makes any long domestic long distance calls which, of course, are no charge on the Ting plan).

Re:we have phone booths in NYC? (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#39622359)

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

How long until they get hacked? (1)

gubers33 (1302099) | about 2 years ago | (#39621487)

I feel like it will only be about a week or so until these begin getting hacked by someone wanting to mess around.

Superman (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621555)

Most importantly, Superman will once again have a
place to change into his costume in the modern era!

Sign of the times (2)

wolfguru (913659) | about 2 years ago | (#39621557)

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???

phone booths still exist? (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#39621573)

....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.

At least I'll be entertained... but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621575)

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

Re:At least I'll be entertained... but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39625247)

Imagine an image of yourself, from head to toe, and being able to drag&drop knives, chainsaws, various injection needles, razor blades, flamethrowers and whatnot to select how you want to go...

That's why.

Cool (3, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#39621607)

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

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621803)

It won't displace the always-present hipster fad of ripping on other people for being hipsters

Re:Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621847)

I laughed at hipsters before the 'before it was cool' hipster meme was created.

Re:Cool (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#39622193)

Just because you do something first doesn't mean you're a hipster.

Doing it first if it's not worth doing at all, *that's* a hipster.

Re:Cool (1)

roc97007 (608802) | about 2 years ago | (#39622173)

That's the anti-hipster fad.

There's an easy way to tell the difference: Hipsters are the ones in black trench coats, shaved bald (or whatever is hip, now it appears to be bald) with a bluetooth receiver in ear (that may not even work, as it's primarily for show) ordering an unnecessarily complicated drink, insisting that they check "in the back" for those breakfast wraps they're out of, (completely failing to hear that there is no "back") and wandering over to the barista for additional unending instructions on the drink, leaving the lone register locked up with his order while he thoroughly sates his empty need for attention.

The non-hipsters are the under-caffeinated people in line who think he's just an asshole.

Hum (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 2 years ago | (#39621619)

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 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?

Re:Hum (1)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#39621817)

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?

How did you get "replace" out of this? (1)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | about 2 years ago | (#39621657)

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"?)

Re:How did you get "replace" out of this? (2)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about 2 years ago | (#39621709)

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.

Re:How did you get "replace" out of this? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39621725)

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?

Re:How did you get "replace" out of this? (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#39622153)

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.

Re:How did you get "replace" out of this? (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about 2 years ago | (#39623349)

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. :\

Re:How did you get "replace" out of this? (2)

chrismcb (983081) | about 2 years ago | (#39621791)

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 thank you fo8 you8 time (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621661)

oof the play 4rea Join GNAA (GAY

Simple mistake... (0)

jimmydigital (267697) | about 2 years ago | (#39621685)

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.

This is cool! (1)

javascriptjunkie (2591449) | about 2 years ago | (#39621763)

If for no other reason than that we know they still have phone booths in New York City!

Re:This is cool! (2)

Chuckstar (799005) | about 2 years ago | (#39621999)

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.

Next Story.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39621875)

"32" Touch-screens being stolen from phone booths across NYC."

Appropriate Futurama quote (1)

smooth wombat (796938) | about 2 years ago | (#39621973)

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.

Inside a phone booth? (2)

rjejr (921275) | about 2 years ago | (#39622085)

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.

Brilliant! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | about 2 years ago | (#39622191)

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.

Re:Brilliant! (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 2 years ago | (#39625223)

[...] 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?!

Another "I'm entitled" kiddie (3, Insightful)

kiwimate (458274) | about 2 years ago | (#39622229)

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...

Re:Another "I'm entitled" kiddie (1)

PeanutButterBreath (1224570) | about 2 years ago | (#39625117)

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?

mo3 up (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39622679)

Shit-filled, or chai8, Return the resignation *BSD is dying It is

pay phones replaced with touch screens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39623745)

Graffiti incrusted, urine soaked touch screen...hmmm GREAT IDEA!

The vandals will make quick work of these... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39624499)

I don't know how much of an issue this is in NYC, but in most metro areas of Phoenix, just about every single gas pump display, bathroom mirrors, etc. are constantly vandalized. The wannabe and the real gang bangers use keys (and god knows what else) to scratch their mostly illegible gang acronyms on just about everything. More and more public bathrooms don't even have mirrors anymore, because they get so heavily scratched up with gang banger tagging/scratching. Hell, I've even seen them using acid to etch their gang banger crap into windows of a business. The only place you mostly don't see it is the retirement community areas, but they are by no means exempt from the chronic vandalism. It's quite sad.

2 days at best (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 2 years ago | (#39624517)

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?

Current conditions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39624585)

Have these people looked at the current pay phone conditions? HA Touchscreen! Really!?!

WHAT New York City Phone Booths ??? (1)

curmudgeon99 (1040054) | about 2 years ago | (#39624897)

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.

Size matters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39624951)

Anyone get the feeling that when they say a 32 inch screen, they actually mean a 32 square inch screen, as in an 8" by 4" rectangle? Or maybe it's just me that would be hard pressed to but my bedroom TV in a phone booth.

90 cents (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39625035)

90 cents of every local tax dollar in upstate NY goes to NYC (http://nysac.org/legislation.php) and this is how they spend it? Well worth the effort.

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