N.Y. expands kiosk program

Expanding upon a successful pilot program, New York City has awarded Golden

Screens Interactive Technologies Inc. a $1.3 million, five-year contract

to provide at least 59 public Internet kiosks throughout the five boroughs.

The city will pay Golden Screens for the first year only, said Glenn

Gruber, the company's vice president of sales and marketing. For the remainder

of the term, the company will recoup its expenses through revenue from ads

placed on the kiosks and on the screens.

"It's not any different than what you would see on the outside of a

pay telephone," he said, referring to the advertising. He added the company

would follow city guidelines regarding public advertising, including a ban

on products related to pornography, tobacco and alcohol.

Gruber said the company and city would share ad revenue.

During a four-year demonstration project called CityAccess, more than

2.7 million people used several dozen kiosks that were provided by three

companies. The city wanted to make services and agencies more available

to citizens. Following competitive bidding, the city chose Golden Screens

last year and finalized the deal this month.

Gruber said the kiosks bridge the digital divide in communities that

aren't as wired as others. During the test period, the kiosks recorded 100

users per day with an average session of four minutes.

Vandalism wasn't much of a problem during the test phase, he said. That

may be because the kiosks were located in public areas, and people were

satisfied with the broadband Internet service. In essence, the kiosks became

community property and "people want to make sure that resource is available,"

he said.

The kiosks are connected to a network maintained by Golden Screens,

and users can access only those sites that the company makes available,

he said.

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