New York is far ahead of the game when it comes to making the most out of IoT opportunities. While only recently officials announced GPS technology would be used to upgrade public transport, pedestrians will now benefit from smart sidewalk kiosks.
LinkNYC is a communication network which offers New Yorkers and visitors free public Wi-Fi, phone calls in the US and to 911 Emergency, device charging, and a tablet for search for maps, directions or services online. The project is a joint initiative of the City of New York and CityBridge whose goal is to replace around 7,500 public payphones throughout the city.
“It is a win-win solution,” says Alexei Pozdnoukhov, director of the Smart Cities Research Center at the University of California at Berkeley. “Cities get environmental sensing to meet public health regulations and figure out the ‘livability’ of streets, and companies get … a playground for building new services.”
The service is free as a result of advertising and sponsorship opportunities, it implies no extra cost for taxpayers, and it is expected to “generate more than a half billion dollars in revenue for New York City,” their website reads. LinkNYC is still in Beta phase available for Apple users only.
So how do you connect? You will have to provide your email address for them to further contact you with updates. Link does collect anonymous data, though, to improve user experience and “to inform advertising that appears on the 55” displays of the Link kiosks.” However, the advertising “doesn’t target individuals and there is no LinkNYC-generated advertising when browsing the web, either on your own device or on Link’s tablet.
Still, in spite of the announced benefits, users are concerned with privacy and security. Although it is a public network, project initiators say the connection between the connected device and the hotspot is encrypted, making all communication secure. The USB doesn’t transfer data between the kiosk and the connected device. Users will also have to pay close attention to the lock symbol in the browser when sending sensitive information.