Articles

New Transit Kiosk With Free Wi-Fi, Charging Station Propels Miami into High-Tech Future

The kiosk also offers bus routes and can snap a selfie and email it to a user.

by Douglas Hanks, Miami Herald / May 3, 2017

(TNS) -- Standing about 10 feet tall, Miami-Dade’s new interactive transit kiosk can plot personalized bus routes, charge a cellphone and snap a selfie and email it to a user.

Debuting under the brand Connect305, the pair of kiosks added to Miami-Dade’s Government Center lobby and second-floor transit station are the first in what a Massachusetts company hopes will be 300 devices spread throughout the county.

Under a no-bid deal approved in January by the County Commission, Civiq Smartscapes agreed to supply the kiosks and provide free Wi-Fi in Miami-Dade’s transit system. In exchange, Civiq profits from advertising opportunities in one of the country’s largest transit systems: Each kiosk features a digital screen with advertisements, and the company may push ads out to Wi-Fi users as well.

Mayor Carlos Gimenez said Tuesday the county needs to change the law governing digital signs in order to allow Civiq to begin installing kiosks at county bus stops. For now, Civiq only plans to bring the equipment to Metrorail and Metromover stations, where digital advertising isn’t restricted. The company expects to have the more than three dozen Metrorail and Metromover stations equipped with the kiosks within the next 18 months. Civiq’s no-bid deal requires installing 150 countywide, with a maximum of 300.

The kiosk unveiled at Government Center features a pair of touch screens that function as oversized, souped-up transit apps. Users can touch a destination, and then see a route calculated using county buses and trains to get there. There’s also the option to have that route emailed to the user.

“Connect305 is bringing people together,” said Alice Bravo, the county’s transit chief.

Civiq has already installed similar kiosks in New York, and wants to expand the equipment nationwide as a new advertising vehicle that lets governments benefit from the technology without having to pay for it.

Users in Miami can also click the jumbo screen to take a photo right there. An internal camera snaps a pic from above, and will email it superimposed on a palm-tree background. George Burciaga, a managing director at Civiq, said the personal information isn’t saved. Should Civiq decide to change that policy and use the email addresses for marketing purposes, users would have the ability to opt out of the service, he said.

“It’s not something we’re reviewing at this moment,” he said. “We are not using personal data for anything.”

Burciaga said the Civiq kiosks offer Miami-Dade the potential for high-tech monitoring, too. Security cameras already peer out from the devices, but other sensors can be added, including gunshot detectors.

And while Metrorail cars and many county buses already offer free Wi-Fi, the kiosks bring connectivity to the actual stations. That will let passengers stay on the same signal as they switch from train to bus to station, Burciaga said. “The idea is to connect devices, people and services across streets, and transit,” he said.

©2017 Miami Herald Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.