Large kiosks are popping up on downtown sidewalks through a citywide program with Ohio-based IKE Smart City that launched two weeks ago.
The brightly-lit kiosks will give you directions, recommend a good happy hour, and even provide free WiFi in a 150-foot radius.
"We're excited about the opportunity to push out info on city events, city services," said Jose de la Cruz, the city's Chief Innovation Officer. "They also push out info on restaurants, on where to stay. I think it's kind of a cool thing."
They're also equipped with air quality monitors and cameras that track foot traffic patterns, said de la Cruz, who added that no images are stored.
In downtown, three kiosks have been installed, and three—potentially four—more are on their way.
» Losoya and Commerce (installed)
» Houston and St. Mary's (installed)
» Houston Street near Soledad (installed)
» Houston and Losoya
» Convention Center
» Dolorosa near City Hall
IKE Smart City, based in Columbus, is installing the kiosks at no charge to the city, de la Cruz said.
In this five-year pilot program, 30 kiosks will be installed citywide by the end of the year—two at the airport (one at each baggage claim), one at Mission San Jose, another at Mission Concepcion, and others at city parks (including Harberger, San Pedro Springs and Pearsall) and VIA bus stops.
Each one displays different info based on their location, "so everything is hyperlocal to the kiosks within a two-mile radius," de la Cruz said.
"We started looking at different ways we could communicate with residents and tourists instead of having them come to our website."
The Heron requested from IKE Smart City the overall cost on the project, and the cost per kiosk, and received this answer: "IKE is fabricated, installed, operated, and maintained at no cost to the City or taxpayers. The program is funded entirely by IKE Smart City."
When asked, de la Cruz said he didn't know, but added that IKE will display ads on the kiosks to help offset the cost.
"I have not seen any financial statements," he said. "That's a better question for IKE."
The kiosks IKE is providing are not included in the five that are supposed to be installed in the $9 million Commerce Street/Zona Cultural redevelopment bond project—for now.
"Nothing's been solidifying, yet," he said.
In 2015, IKE first launched kiosks in Denver, and is currently expanding to 16 other cities.