Chicago is getting on the free public Wi-Fi bandwagon. The City of Chicago recently announced that it is partnering with CIVIQ Smartscapes, the same company New York City partnered with for LinkNYC, to deploy smart city, interactive CIVIQ Waypoint devices in downtown Chicago. AT&T’s Smart Cities program is covering the cost of the pilot.

An artist’s rendering of a future kiosk. (Image: CIVIQ Smartscapes)

Similar to LinkNYC, which recently surpassed 1 million users in its first year, the kiosks will provide help with directions, interactive information about transportation services, safety alerts, and free Wi-Fi. The kiosks, which will feature 55-inch touchscreens, will be located near resident and tourist hubs, such as Millennium Park.

“The City of Chicago and the mayor are focused on building a safer and smarter Chicago. This technology improves the way residents communicate and is the first step of many within the City of Chicago,” said Alderman Daniel Solis.

Unique to the Chicago kiosks is the capability to have information, such as maps, delivered directly to a user’s smartphone. This is powered through Civiq Smartscapes’ Mobility Experience and is not available on the kiosks in New York.

Chicago is also debuting another new technology. CIVIQ Smartscapes hopes to use cellphone numbers that kiosk users voluntarily provide to create a network that would automatically deliver time- and proximity-relevant alerts and trigger city services. While CIVIQ Smartscapes admits the technology is still in the future, it hopes to eventually have the capability of knowing how many individuals are waiting at a specific bus shelter or how many seats are taken on a given bus, so the city could potentially deploy another bus to meet user demand.

“Cities across the world are focused on transforming urban landscapes into hyper-connected smartscapes. Connecting smart devices, services, and people will allow cities to react to human occurrences in real time, while becoming more efficient and sustainable. We recognize that the heartbeat of every city is the people, so technology should reach them,” said George Burciaga, managing director of global government development and innovation at CIVIQ Smartscapes.

According to CIVIQ Smartscapes, the kiosks are scheduled for completion by the end of the first quarter of 2017.

Read More About
Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs