New York’s Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge

The New York Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge ran from December 4th, 2012 to March 5th, 2013 and gave designers the opportunity to reimagine uses for New York City’s 11,000 public payphones.

New York manages a telecommunications network of 11,412 public payphones throughout five boroughs, however payphone use has vastly decreased due to mobile device adoption. With current payphone vendor agreements due to expire in 2014, the city jumped on the opportunity to innovate and invited its residents to help.

The winners were selected earlier this week at Quirky with six entries awarded for best connectivity, creativity, visual design, functionality, and community impact.  The Community Impact winner by Titan and Control Group is called “NYC I/O, The Responsive City”, and proposed turning payphones into digital nodes that let you pay bills, pay for parking, call a cab and otherwise act as a data network to foster communication between New Yorkers and their city.

Other shortlisted ideas from the contest include Beacon, which turns the payphone into a voice and gesture-controlled (good for germaphobes) communication device; Windchimes, which turns payphones into real-time recording devices for the city’s environmental conditions; and NYFi, which turn them into WiFi hotspots.

Why I’m Curious

This is crowdsourcing on steroids.  The Reinvent NY’s Payphones Challenge is a wonderful, trailblazing example of opening up a “city’s API” and leveraging + inviting New York’s most talented creators to architect a large part of the city’s future function.  I’m interested in what will come of opening up the city and creating thousands of detailed data banks on real-time actions and behaviors.

via @AdAge


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