Some city phone booths are getting high tech makeovers that make them potentially more useful to more New Yorkers both every day and in case of an emergency. NY1's Adam Balkin filed the following report.
When was the last time you used a phone booth? If the answer is: 'I can't remember,' 'Never' or 'I didn't know there still were phone booths,' then your answer may be about to change. That's because the phones in some phone booths are being taken out and replaced with City24/7 SmartScreens, which are touchscreen kiosks.
"It's broadcasting out relevant information that is hyperlocal to where you are," says Tom Touchet of City24/7. "It's a great mix of powerful information from the government, post-Sandy, it has NYC service information, NYC health information."
There are three category tabs. "What" offers you up everything from shopping to activities to do with kids, "when" gives you a calendar of events, and "where" pulls up a map to show you what's around you.
Again, thinking in the post-Sandy world, in the case of an emergency, preparedness alerts can be pushed to the screens and even direct people where to go.
LG, which manufacturers the screens, says they have been made to literally weather the storm. It says that if another Sandy-type hurricane comes around, there's probably a better chance the whole booth will blow over before the screen gets damaged.
"This is one of the most durable touchscreens out there because it used DST, that stands for Dispersive Sensory Technology," says Jay Kang of LG Electronics. "So it's very durable and you can withstand not just a really tough environment but can withstand lots of dust. And it's really accurate to the touch."
The screens, which are free to use, also have a battery backup that can last up to 48 hours. The initial plan is to install 250 SmartScreens throughout New York City by the beginning of next year, after which City24/7 will target other cities both throughout the U.S. and abroad.