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Digital kiosks have been popping up across the country – in Denver, Atlanta, Miami, and Houston.

"You can't be a smart city unless you have smart technology," said then-mayor Sylvester Turner when Houston introduced them in 2022.

The city of Dallas says the signs can be used to provide free public wifi to an area, broadcast emergency alerts in real-time, and help direct visitors to the city's attractions and restaurants.

Some, though, are skeptical of all those promises.

"We're probably on one of our most updated, widest sidewalks right now for this conversation, but a lot of them simply do not have room for another piece of furniture, essentially, a permanently fixed object that impedes pedestrian connectivity," said Jennifer Scripps, CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc.

Scripps says the signs will become obsolete over time, attract graffiti, and offer little use to anyone already carrying a cell phone.

"We believe the main purpose is advertising," she said.

The kiosks are marketed as money-makers for cities with revenue split between the city and the private company managing them.

How much the city would make is unclear. The city's public works director couldn't provide an estimate on revenue when asked by council members.

"We're talking about millions of dollars, multi-millions of dollars," said city council member Bazaldua, who supports the idea. "When I hear from taxpayers, they want more. What they don't want more of is taxing. We need to be creative as lawmakers in figuring out alternative revenue sources. That's going to give us the ability to deliver for our residents."

Some critics worry the kiosks will be similar to circular advertising kiosks Dallas has had for almost two decades.

"What they are is an impediment for the pedestrian and a visual block for the vehicles, for the drivers of cars, so pretty much everyone hates them," said council member Cara Mendelsohn of them during a March meeting of the Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

"Well, this right there is not only a monstrosity, it's obnoxious, it's outdated…" agreed Bazaldua, pointing to one of the old kiosks across from Dallas city hall.

The digital and interactive kiosks, he says, would be a major improvement and far less intrusive.

The city held a public hearing Monday evening at 6 p.m. at Dallas City Hall on the plan that's drawn some criticism.

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Autor(en)/Author(s): Andrea Lucia

Quelle/Source: CBS News, 29.04.2024

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