New Cleveland Kiosks Will Put Interactive Information At Your Fingertips!

Crain’s Cleveland

By Jay Miller

Posted March 21st 2019




Cleveland is replacing many of those triangular wayfinding kiosks scattered around town with glitzier, interactive “information portals.” The 8-foot-tall towers share a lot of capabilities with smartphones, including touchscreens.

The new pylons, provided by a Columbus firm, IKE Smart City, will help users find restaurants, hotels or events and provide directions, including bus routes and arrival times. That information can then be downloaded onto a smartphone.

They will also offer 911 and 311 connections, free Wi-Fi, provide locations of social services (including shelters) and will add to the number of security cameras around town. They’ll gather pedestrian and vehicle traffic counts and measure air quality. They will even take selfies.

Legislation moved through Cleveland City Council authorizing replacing 60 current kiosks, which mostly offer advertising media, supplied by the current vendor, Omni Media, under a contract that dates to 1999. The new vendor has kiosks similar to the ones proposed for Cleveland in cities around the country, including Columbus and Denver.

IKE Smart City, a subsidiary of Orange Barrel Media of Columbus, an outdoor media firm, will start with 60 interactive kiosks. It will also place what it calls transit pillars, much more limited towers, around the city. Most will be downtown, although the plan is to expand to heavily trafficked areas such as University Circle, the Midtown Corridor and Ohio City. Additional expansion could take place in the future.

The new kiosks will also include advertising. Mark Thompson, IKE’s development manager and associate corporate counsel, told council members that advertisements and community-service messages will rotate like screensavers in the top one-third of the screens when they are not in use.

“This is how we recover our costs,” Thompson said. “We install and operate the kiosks at no cost to the city.”

He added it costs about $100,000 to get each kiosk up and operating, while the traffic pillars cost about $50,000. Freddy Collier, director of the city planning commission, said the city will share in revenue after the company recovers its installation and operating costs. The city’s money will go into a fund for storefront renovation.

“We really think of these kiosks as an additional enhancement to the visitor experience,” said Hannah Belsito, vice president of destination development and community affairs at Destination Cleveland, the convention and visitors bureau. “The way IKE has designed them, we really think they look like ours and will complement them.”

Destination Cleveland has its own wayfinding signs that feature neighborhood maps with landmarks and a bit of local history.

Belsito said Destination Cleveland is talking to IKE Smart City to work with them on providing content. “They will need relationships with a lot of local partners to keep the information up to date,” she said. “We’re really excited about that.”

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