NYC Mayor: Bring Payphones Into the 21st Century

With 11,000 payphones scattered across New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is asking techies to design a payphone that will meet modern communication needs.

The Reinvent the Payphone Design Challenge has been launched by the mayor of New York City. At the monthly Tech Meetup the mayor playfully introduced the challenge through a video in which he pretended to make a call from a payphone, "I lost my phone—I'm using this pay phone," the mayor said. "These things could be so much cooler."

Indeed, payphones hardly serve today's daily communication demands. Crain's author Matthew Flamm points out that not everyone has a cell phone, however, and pay phones are used heavily in times of crisis, such as in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Following on the heels of other city-lead design contests, the Payphone Design Challenge seeks to "liven up the process of figuring out what functions new payphones will perform and how the structures will be housed when new franchise contracts are awarded in 2014."

"From Wi-Fi in public spaces to the High Line, our administration has continuously reinvented city infrastructure by matching innovative concepts with extraordinary designs," Mayor Bloomberg explained. Imagine a payhone kiosk where you could charge your phone, connect to wifi, or use touchscreen interfaces to find important information such as city maps. Prototypes are due February 18th.

Full Story: City to techies: Design pay phone of the future

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