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NYC subway replacing station maps with touch screen kiosks

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March 21, 2013

New York City plans to replace the maps in its subway stations with touch screen displays ...

New York City plans to replace the maps in its subway stations with touch screen displays that will provide simple directions and real-time service alerts

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If you've ever taken the New York City subway, you know what a mess it can be for an inexperienced rider. Transferring to the right line can be confusing, there's always at least one track closed for maintenance, and the maps at the station aren't much help if you don't know where you are to begin with. Luckily, the MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) plans to replace all station maps and announcements with interactive HD displays that will provide simple directions and real-time service alerts.

The new "On The Go!" touch screens will display all sorts of useful information for commuters, including train arrival countdowns, outage notices, neighborhood maps, and special alerts if needed. When not in use, the kiosks will also act as digital billboards to generate ad revenue.

The one feature that's certain to be used by most riders though is the interactive subway map. Travelers will be able to simply select their destination and the screen will bring up step-by-step instructions with a visual display of what path they need to take. It will even factor in current service outages and give an estimated travel time along with the number of stops before they reach their destination.

The one feature that's certain to be used by most riders though is the interactive subway ...

To create the kiosks, MTA partnered with Control Group, a local design firm that recently won the Community Impact Award in the NYC Reinvent Payphones competition. The information available will be handled by a content management system designed in-house by Control Group and synchronized through a vast network. Most importantly though, the whole system will be built on a flexible platform that will allow third-party developers to create their own apps, so the software can be easily customized or updated when needed.

Though the touch screen displays would certainly be an improvement, it does raise the question of how to prevent them from being tagged with graffiti or damaged, even with MTA maintaining them. No word on exactly when the new touch screens will be installed, but MTA plans to implement up to 90 of them throughout some of NYC's most popular stations, bringing the service to over 4 million people each day.

Source: Control Group

About the Author
Jonathan Fincher Jonathan grew up in Norway, China, and Trinidad before graduating film school and becoming an online writer covering green technology, history and design, as well as contributing to video game news sites like Filefront and 1Up. He currently resides in Texas, where his passions include video games, comics, and boring people who don't want to talk about either of those things.   All articles by Jonathan Fincher
7 Comments

Very cool although I love asking locals in NYC for help. Helps kill that cold distance one normally feels in the subway.

Michael Shewell
21st March, 2013 @ 09:18 am PDT

I doubt that it even comes close to being cost effective.

Slowburn
21st March, 2013 @ 11:48 am PDT

Nice! But any guesses how long before it gets spray painted or smashed in? Yeah, my experiences in the urban landscape has be 'disappointing' as you may have surmised.

yrag
21st March, 2013 @ 02:38 pm PDT

@yrag: ticket machines at train stations in the Netherlands have had large viewscreens for at least 15 years, and there have been touch screens for about half that time. While I'm sure they get stained or smashed from time to time, they are far, far, far more cost effective than the alternative of 20 years ago: people.

Joris van den Heuvel
21st March, 2013 @ 03:31 pm PDT

I don't know if I'd want to touch one of those in a NYC subway station. I can only imagine what might be on that screen.

Ken Dawson
21st March, 2013 @ 04:41 pm PDT

NYC has a $3.6 Billion deficit. NYC's MTA is looking at $560 to $1.6 Billion deficit next year.

Installing these devices will cost double whatever we're told they will cost and there will be a net EXPENSE - not savings - from their installation.

Why?

The union MTA employees currently collecting fares will not lose their jobs. The current Mayoral candidate has made that clear and past experience from the installation of the existing ticketing systems that eliminate human interaction shows that no one will be replaced by automation.

@Joris van den Heuvel and his comment "train stations in the Netherlands have had large viewscreens for at least 15 years, and there have been touch screens for about half that time. While I'm sure they get stained or smashed from time to time, they are far, far, far more cost effective than the alternative of 20 years ago: people. "

-Dude, this ain't the frickin' NETHERLANDS....

Joseph Boe
22nd March, 2013 @ 11:23 am PDT

Also the MTA has proven themselves unable to protect their infrastructure from threats they had been warned about for decades.

Slowburn
22nd March, 2013 @ 12:34 pm PDT
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