St. Louis to Launch Smartphone-Esque Street Kiosks

The technology has found a place in several U.S. cities as a means of delivering directions to attractions, public transit maps and emergency alert functions for pedestrians.

by Jacob Barker, St. Louis Post-Dispatch / August 17, 2018
St. Louis, Missouri (Shutterstock)

(TNS) — Within a year, 6-foot-tall smartphone-looking kiosks could start popping up around St. Louis.

They’d offer free Wi-Fi, directions to local businesses and attractions, public transit maps and emergency alert functions to pedestrians who pass by on the sidewalk. The kiosks, which are being adopted by other cities, could even measure air pollution and traffic.

St. Louis’s new — and first — chief technology officer, Robert Gaskill-Clemons, who was hired by Mayor Lyda Krewson’s administration in March from the state of Washington, is spearheading the project. He described the devices as similar to smartphones, with touchscreen apps that let pedestrians quickly find the information they want .

The St. Louis Development Corp., the city’s economic development arm, will issue the request for proposals to select a smart kiosk and appoint a selection committee to evaluate the proposals.

Gaskill-Clemons told their board Thursday that the initiative should not cost the city anything. The companies that provide the kiosks make their money selling advertising, but they do ask for long-term contracts, he said.

“It’s one heck of an opportunity to start putting smart-city technology in front of the citizens of St. Louis,” Gaskill-Clemons said.

The kiosks have been adopted in big cities including New York and smaller ones, including Newport, Ky., a Cincinnati suburb. Gaskill-Clemons said he hopes to begin piloting the devices in some neighborhoods within the next four to six months and expand them after that.

A contract with a provider will ensure they remove the devices should they not work, Gaskill-Clemons said, so the city doesn’t get stuck with them if they don’t perform as anticipated.

Neighborhood organizations such as Downtown STL Inc. and those near Tower Grove Park have expressed “huge desire” for the smart kiosks, Gaskill-Clemons said. His project is an effort to get in front of the move to the technology and provide a “city solution” instead of individualized smart kiosks from different groups.

©2018 the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.