Commentary

MTA Rolling Out Digital Touch Screens In Public Phone Kiosks

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates one of the largest public transportation systems in the world, is bringing digital touch-screen displays to public phone kiosks in the New York City Transit network. The interactive kiosks, most of which are located in NYCT subway stations, will provide users with a variety of information via 47-inch touch-screen displays.

The MTA has retained Control Group to design and implement the first phase of 90 interactive displays, which will reflect a vision of an “open network” for the city, including support for third-party apps (subject to MTA approval, of course). One of their major functions will be an interactive map of the city’s subway system, which can provide directions to anywhere in the city from the user’s current location, plus a guide to attractions and points of interest. They will also provide information about service delays and outages, as well as carrying advertising. Last but not least, the displays will function as Wi-Fi hotspots.

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According to the original request for expressions of interest released by the MTA last year, ads would be located at the bottom portion of the digital screen display, or appear on the side of the kiosks through a branded sponsorship.

The interactive kiosks are just one part of a larger citywide digital out-of-home build-out planned by the MTA. Last year CBS Outdoor partnered with the MTA to install a network of 100 large, double-sided digital displays at the entrances to subway stations around Manhattan. The “Urban Panel” network is intended to improve New York City Transit’s ability to communicate with passengers about route changes and other important information. The displays also carry paid advertising messages.

Meanwhile the city’s public phones are getting a big makeover courtesy of Pacific Telemanagement Services, which bought most of them from Verizon in 2011. PTS is replacing most of the phones with computer kiosks called “My Internet Kiosk Everywhere,” or MIKE, which let users access the Web, email and various apps (for a small fee) via a 22-inch touch-screen. The kiosks also include charging stations for power-hungry mobile devices.

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