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green streets
thoughts, ideas + dialogues on urban revitalization, smart growth + neighborhood development
Curated by Lauren Moss
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How To Build The Digital Subway Map Of The Future

How To Build The Digital Subway Map Of The Future | green streets | Scoop.it

Slow-moving bureaucracy, diverse users, risky monetization schemes, unpredictable station layouts, spotty networks, underpowered hardware. These are just some of the challenges Control Group faced in bringing the digital map of the future to the New York City subway.

How did they overcome these challenges? They used the web.

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NYC Subways Deploy A Touch-Screen Network, Complete With Apps

NYC Subways Deploy A Touch-Screen Network, Complete With Apps | green streets | Scoop.it

The designers at Control Group--have been hired by New York’s MTA to bring a plan for bringing a networked, touch-screen system to their subways. Starting this year, 90 touch-screen kiosks will make their way to thoroughfares like Grand Central Station and hip stops like Bedford Avenue. Together, they’ll make a beta network for 2 million commuters and tourists a day.


Each kiosk is a 47-inch touch screen, encapsulated in stainless steel, with an operational temperature up to 200 degrees. They’ll be placed, mostly in pairs, outside pay areas, inside mezzanines and even right on train platforms. Control Group has skinned the hardware with a simple front end and an analytics-heavy backend. And the platform will even support third-party apps approved by the MTA.

At launch, the screens will feature all sorts of content, like delays, outages, and, of course, ads (which bring in $100 million in revenue for the MTA each year, but mostly in paper signage). Yet its most powerful interaction for many will likely be its map, which features a one-tap navigation system.

You look at the map, you tap your intended destination, and the map will draw your route, including any transfers along the way. It’s an interface that puts Google Maps to shame.

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James's curator insight, March 21, 2013 3:15 AM

Touch interface has seen a rise in the community, such as information booths.

It allows for easy usability and quick access for people in a hurry.

While it does give convenience to the people, it's another job that's been mechanized because of its efficiency.

 

Touchscreens do away with the harder input devices and allow people to use it little to no prior knowledge of how to access it.

luiy's curator insight, March 21, 2013 7:23 AM

THE POWER OF EXTRA SENSORS

 

At the same time, the system’s screens could be the least interesting part of this project. The kiosks will be fitted with extra modules--video cameras, mics, and Wi-Fi--to open up a whole secondary layer of data collection and interface.

 

With cameras and mics, the MTA can enable two-way communication (what I imagine as emergency response messaging), and they can also pull in all sorts of automated metrics from their stations--they’d have eyes capable of counting station crowdedness or even approximate user ethnographics.

Meanwhile, Wi-Fi opens the door for networking a whole platform of mobile users with Internet access and other streamed content. Given that the average person waits 5 to 10 minutes on a platform, O’Donnell sees the potential of engaging, sponsored experiences, like a networked game of Jeopardy, while people wait for the train, or streaming media content, like TV/movie clips. A tourist could, of course, do something far more practical, too, like download a city map in moments.

“We can’t provide Internet for everybody,” he says, “but we can allow interactivity on the platform.”