This is Google’s city. We just live and text in it.
Former New York City Deputy Mayor of Economic Development Dan Doctoroff is leading the tech giant’s plans to replace the city’s pay phones with a free, superfast gigabit WiFi network in all five boroughs.
New structures, called links, will be built in 10,000 different locations starting later this year, according to the LinkNYC project website.
Google startup Sidewalks Labs, which is run by Doctoroff, recently took over the massive project that has been in the works for several years now and is now in overdrive. Sidewalk is officially an independent company, perating separately from Google and it is a minority investor in Intersection, along with a consortium of others, now behind LinkNYC.
The installation is being done at no cost to taxpayers, funded with advertisements and will shovel back more than $500 million to city coffers over 12 years, City Hall has said.
The hotspots will be known as “Links” and were designed by Antenna Design team Masamichi Udagawa and Sigi Moeslingeoffer. The links will offer:
• 24/7 free Internet access with up to gigabit speeds.
• Free phone calls anywhere in the U.S.
• A touchscreen tablet interface to access City services, directions and more.
• Easy access to 911 and 311.
• Free charging station for mobile devices.
• Digital displays for advertising and public service announcements.
By replacing the aging network of public pay telephones with state-of-the-art Links, the City aims to transform the physical streetscape -- and New Yorkers’ access to information -- while also creating new local jobs for the development, servicing and maintenance of the structures, the LinkNYC site says.
What happens in New York could be repeated in other cities, Doctoroff said in a statement.
“At a time when the concerns about urban equity, costs, health and the environment are intensifying, unprecedented technological change is going to enable cities to be more efficient, responsive, flexible and resilient,” said Doctoroff, who was also a top executive in former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s media company.
“We hope that Sidewalk will play a major role in developing technology products, platforms and advanced infrastructure that can be implemented at scale in cities around the world.”
John A. Oswald is editor-at-large for www.metro.us. Follow him on Twitter @nyc_oz.