Infrastructure Advancement of the Year: LinkNYC
# of NYC kiosks:
Proj. NYC kiosks:
Intersection, Qualcomm and CIVIQ Smartscapes.
Free Wi-Fi, calls, device charging, access to maps and directions, and 911 emergency connection.
LinkNYC generates its own revenue through advertising, sponsorships and partnerships.
The "digital divide" — economic or social inequality in regards to technology — is a stubborn challenge in today's smartest cities. Offering all citizens affordable access to broadband and other common connective infrastructure is not a simple feat, and will often create hostility between governments and their constituents.
CityBridge, a group of tech and connectivity companies including Intersection, Qualcomm and CIVIQ Smartscapes, is working to bridge this digital divide in the nation's largest city with an advanced, scalable and aesthetically appealing Wi-Fi kiosk network: LinkNYC.
The functionalities of the nearly 10-foot-tall kiosks are both simple by design and user-friendly — making the Links inclusive for city dwellers from all demographics. The free services include high speed Wi-Fi, phone calls to anywhere in the nation, device charging via USB ports, a touch screen tablet for access to maps and directions, and a large 911 emergency call button.
As of late 2017, CityBridge rolled out more than 1,200 Links citywide with the goal of installing more than 7,500 Links across the five boroughs in the next several years. And while the original purpose of the new infrastructure was to replace pay phones, the opportunities that Links have provided since their citywide roll out in 2016 have been tenfold. The project has created a wealth of new jobs, has generated millions of dollars in revenue for New York through the advertising platform, and has actually helped to bridge that digital divide and give broadband access to folks who can't afford it otherwise.
Due to the success of LinkNYC, a wider deployment of the kiosks are on the horizon. InLinkUK, also of the parent company Intersection, launched in June, while Philadelphia is expecting to see its own LinkPHL deployment in 2018. Intersection is even talking about retrofitting bus kiosks in Seattle with the technology. Just as pay phones were a staple of the 1990s, Links are on the path to becoming a city staple of the digital era.
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