In early 2013, the city invited technologists, urban planners, and creators to build prototypes imagining a new utility for payphone infrastructure. Some of the finalists are on view here.
New York City manages a telecommunications network of eleven thousand public payphones throughout the five boroughs. Though public payphone use has decreased with mobile device adoption, payphones still serve the communication needs of thousands of New Yorkers daily, especially in times of emergency. Payphone infrastructure, while owned by the city, is maintained and managed by a network of franchisees that oversee installation as well as day-to-day operations. Before these franchise agreements expire in 2014, the Bloomberg administration would like to formulate a forward-thinking strategy for the reinvention of the city’s payphones.
To this end, the city has sought input from the talented technology, urban design, architecture, and maker community to explore how payphones could be restructured and redesigned to optimize public space and deliver vital information and services. These prototypes, on display as part of the New Museum’s IDEAS CITY, were developed during the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge, and serve as inspiration for a safer, more accessible, and greener New York City streetscape.