20 Nov LinkNYC – the ambitious reimagining of the telephone box.

Pay phones have evolved in design throughout the years, but not very much in function. Almost everybody has access to some sort of mobile phone device these days – reducing pay phones to a mere part of urban scenery, and in those moments of emergency when you do actually have to use a pay phone, quite often they don’t actually work.

LinkNYC is hoping to change all of this, working in conjunction with CityBridge and the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation – the initiative hopes to roll out by next year, replacing the city’s public pay phones. The design is slick and occupies less space than typical pay phones, the ‘Links’ as they will be known are kiosks which will provide tablet touch screens offering a range of services including tourist information, directions, free calls within the U.S, emergency services contact, a usb connection for charging mobile devices and free 24/7 public WiFi.

The cost, if this initiative is approved, won’t fall to the public in the form of an additional tax, instead the ‘Link’ with its embedded screens will be financed through advertisements. The advertisement strategy being discussed is one which is geo-targeted to businesses local to whatever area a particular Link is stationed within and will also serve the dual purpose of making public announcements.

Criticism for the plan has been minimal so far with the same contributions of concern people normally offer up when anything is given to the public for free; namely the classist argument that ‘thugs’ will simply destroy the infrastructure or that we’re already living in a society rife with excessive exposure to advertisement, but the benefits still remain; lower income families who rely on mobile internet free of data contracts stand to benefit from the access to information, the kiosks will become a valuable tool for tourists navigating a foreign city, we’re already bombarded by billboards who give us nothing in return for their subconscious force feeding and above all else this new way to interact with technology will in turn create innovation with regards to a new type of communication adding to the human experience in a way that wouldn’t have been possible without this infrastructure.

The idea of a city giving a valuable service to the public in exchange for generating a revenue from advertisement is definitely a step in the right direction, if we’re to be subjected to advertisement at all, it makes sense to have geo-targeted and relevant ads as opposed to anything else, perhaps this new breed of advertisement will set a new standard for public advertisement all together.

Find out more about LinkNYC here.