NYC to Set Up Real-Time Monitoring for Service Availability of Public Wi-Fi and Phone Call Kiosks


New York City, which is already bridging the gap for many thousands of households without broadband access, will ramp up support for its free public telephones and Wi-Fi by using technology to answer a simple question that has likely puzzled residents since the days of pay phones: Which ones work? The city’s LinkNYC initiative provides the ability to make free calls, charge a cellphone or smartphone, and connect to free Wi-Fi at more than 1,500 kiosks in all five boroughs. Now, with an Internet of Thing-like paradigm, it will set up a program to monitor in real time which ones aren’t working. LinkNYC has good systemwide Wi-Fi and tablet service availability, at 99.8 percent and more than 95 percent uptime, respectively. But Council Member Ben Kallos, a software developer who championed then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Reinvent Payphones” initiative in 2013, noticed some kiosks in his district were partially out of order, and offered Wi-Fi but not free calls. During a conversation with interns in November as they attempted to test the Wi-Fi, Kallos told Government Technology, the idea struck him of using existing Internet protocols (IPs) such as Ping, to probe kiosk service outages in real time instead of waiting for…

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