New York City is really a city for and of the people. The Big Apple is home to people from all over the world and, as large and diverse as it is, it is this characteristic that makes it such a vibrant and beautiful place. The city has changed much over the years in some ways—and in other ways, it remains as iconic as it always has.
For example, New York City is filled with payphones. Yes, still, to this day, there are payphones on just about every street corner. Of course, nobody really uses them anymore; so the city has been looking for ways to put them to use. Sure, they do still provide some annual advertising revenue, as they always have, but with fewer people stopping to use them, that $20 million in annual revenue suffers.
As such, the city has teamed up with a consortium of companies known as CityBridge to develop the LinkNYC project. CityBridge is headed up by the Alphabet Inc-owned startup Sidewalk Labs and operated by former Bloomberg LP chief executive officer Dan Doctoroff. The project was to turn those payphones still standing into small, free, wi-fi sources for NYC citizens and visitors to be able to check messages, get directions, etc.
The first of these transformed terminals went up in January and now there are about 400 LinkNYC terminals across the city; and more than 475,000 people have signed up to use them. Unfortunately, many of these people who like to use the free embedded tablets are homeless, who monopolize the technology by camping out at the kiosks and watching streaming movies or listening to streaming music.
Indeed, LinkNYC also says that some people have been using the tablets “inappropriately.” The company explains that “lewd incidents” have increased at these terminals—including viewing of pornography—reminding that “the kiosks were never intended for anyone’s extended personal use and we want to ensure that Links are accessible and a welcome addition to New York city neighborhoods.”
Accordingly, Bronx Borough president Ruben Diaz, Jr says he believes in the potential of these kiosks to provide “better communication access for all of our city residents,” because they add a necessary and important push for more social and technological equality.
For now, though, CityBridge will disable all web browsers in the tablets at each Link station. The wi-fi and telephone capabilities will remain, however, keeping intact, at least, the original goal of keeping all people of the city connected.