AT&T part of smart city kiosk deployment in Chicago

Chicago (Pixabay)
Chicago will be getting five Wi-Fi kiosks as part of a smart city pilot.

Smart city kiosks are not just a thing for New York City. As part of an AT&T Smart Cities pilot, Chicago will be getting five interactive Civiq WayPoint touchscreen kiosks on Michigan Avenue and other downtown locations.

The kiosk screens in Chicago will be much larger than those in New York City, measuring 55 inches. However, it’s a much smaller-scale project than the LinkNYC program, which calls for more than 7,500 free, ad-supported Wi-Fi hotspots across the city’s five boroughs over the next several years. New York City’s network is being deployed by the city and a consortium of companies called CityBridge.

The Chicago deployment is part of AT&T's Smart Cities spotlight city pilot. Civiq Smartscapes will initially install smart city, interactive Civiq WayPoint devices in downtown Chicago that provide high-speed public Wi-Fi. The deployment will also enable Civiq's Mobility Experience, a solution that connects devices, people and services to deliver citizen engagement and improved city services.

According to Civiq Smartscapes, its deployment of WayPoint devices connected to the city of Chicago will provide a smart ecosystem to engage residents. For the first time, residents will be able to initiate a dialogue with their elected city officials, enabling the city to respond to issues and allow for the expansion of a new experience across city services.

"Cities across the world are focused on transforming urban landscapes into hyper-connected smartscapes,” said George Burciaga, managing director, Global Government Development & Innovation of Civiq Smartscapes, in a press release. “Connecting smart devices, services and people will allow cities to react to human occurrences in real time, while becoming more efficient and sustainable. We recognize that the heartbeat of every city is the people, so technology should reach them."

RELATED: LinkNYC access points start appearing in New York City

Besides offering Wi-Fi, the kiosks will serve as information providers to highlight points of interest and how to get to them from the various locations, which could be particularly worthwhile to tourists who are unaware of what's around them. 

But whereas the New York kiosks originally had full web browsers, that feature was removed after complaints surfaced that some users were watching pornography. The Chicago screens will not have a web browser, according to the Chicago Tribune.

AT&T announced at the CES 2017 trade show that it was committed to test its smart city framework in several spotlight cities and universities, including Chicago, Atlanta, Dallas, North Carolina’s Chapel Hill, Florida's Miami-Dade County and Maryland's Montgomery County.

AT&T says its pilots in Chicago are designed to keep Chicago residents and tourists more productive, engaged and informed as they move around town. Other solutions it’s pursuing in Chicago include:

  • Smart digital transportation boards in Chicago O’Hare International Airport. Plans call for smart digital displays to help travelers with their ground transportation planning. Boards located near airport baggage claim will show the fastest and lowest-cost routes into the city, and real-time information will be made available so that travelers can determine their best mode of transportation.
  • Connected bus shelters in several Chicago communities. The idea is to provide connectivity to create a safer, more inviting environment, with select bus shelters getting free Wi-Fi, intelligent lighting and digital displays to inform commuters of the next bus arrival.