Unless your cell phone died or you’re dialing up your drug dealer from some wanton, low-lit intersection, you probably haven’t stepped inside a phone booth since before the new millennium. But that could change with the planned technological revamp of city phone booths.
Each selected phone booth will receive its own 32-inch touchscreen that will serve as a neighborhood directory. The directory can show you local restaurants, shops, directions and safety alerts (should you not have a smartphone to already do all those things for you.)
In order to make this project work, New York has teamed up with City 24×7, a provider of up-to-the-minute public communication systems for cities. According to Mashable, “City24x7 will be responsible of the maintenance and repair of the screens. The pilot program will cost the city nothing, according to Sbordone. In the future, the program will display ads, covering the installation and upkeep of the touch-screen directories. The city will also post reminders ads about tax refunds, bike sharing services and park events.”
Considering most city phone booths are used for graffiti art and public urination, this makeover is definitely a welcome one. It also provides services for citizens who can’t afford a smartphone with an expensive data plan. And with potential Skype integration, the futuristic advent of city-wide video-chat payphones could be just around the corner.