The rise of cellphones has resulted in the decline of phone booths, many of which now sit out of use with no telephone. However, some workers who earned a computer science degree or received training in computer engineering information have found a new use for phone booths that will debut in New York City.
As many as 250 "smart screens" will be installed in old telephone booths, where people will be able to get transportation updates, city information and a calendar of events, according to The New York Post. People also will be able to file complaints or request other information by pressing an on-screen icon that will link them to the city's 311 service.
In the future, the touch screens reportedly will be able to link to Skype, let users check their email and connect to the Wi-Fi network. They also are said to be more sanitary than an ATM, because they are waterproof and dustproof and built to be cleaned with a jet hose.
The 32-inch touch-screen devices, which were developed by City24/7, will be placed in areas with heavy pedestrian traffic in all five boroughs. The city said it will aim to find phone booths with two telephones and replace one with a screen so one telephone will remain available.
According to Nicholas Sbordone, spokesman of the city's Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, there are more than 12,000 outdoor pay phones in New York City, and their contract expires in October 2014, the newspaper reported.
Company chief executive Tom Touchet told the newspaper a pilot program included the installation of some screens in densely populated areas, such as Citi Field and New York University dormitories.
“It’s giving you information that’s time-of-day sensitive, geo-specific,” Touchet told the Post. “It’s based on whatever community you happen to be in.”