N.Y. invests in kiosks

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 wanted to make services and agencies more available to citizens.

During a four-year pilot project called CityAccess, more than 2.7 million

people used several dozen kiosks provided by three companies. Following

competitive bidding, the city chose Golden Screens last year and finalized

the deal last month.

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 rest

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

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, adding that the company would follow city guidelines

for public advertising, including a ban on products related to pornography,

tobacco and alcohol. The company and city will share ad revenue.

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. 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,

Gruber said.

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