Photo © Susan NYC

NYC payphones may have seemed obsolete for the past ten years or so but Hurricane Sandy showed us that they still play a very important role in times of disaster (reports say that usage of public phones increased during and after the superstorm). The city’s current payphone vendor agreements expire in 2014, and in order to create opportunities for innovation, Mayor Bloomberg, NYC Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Rahul N. Merchant and Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot have launched a Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge calling designers, planners and policy experts to create solutions that will re-imagine and modernize New York City’s pay telephones. If the competition is successful, we could soon see more technologically advanced payphones that people would actually use.

Reinvent Payphone Challenge, NY City design contest, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, payphone design, NY city infrastructure, urban design, design competition

Those interested in participating in the challenge should visit the official contest website to check out the rules, sign up for important updates and send their prototype application in by February 18, 2013. An open information session will be held on January 23, 2013, where the participants will have the opportunity to ask questions about the challenge and the payphone infrastructure.

After the submission deadline, up to 15 semi-finalists will be chosen to demonstrate their ideas at the Reinvent Payphones Demo Day on March 5, 2013. Hosting the Demo Day in collaboration with the city are three companies (Quirky, and CollabFinder) that will help design a website for the event and create a Reinvent Payphones project page where participants can work with collaborators on building prototypes. Judges of the Reinvent Payphones Demo Day include John Borthwick (founder and CEO of Betaworks), Majora Carter (founder of Startup Box), Jason Goodman (CEO and co-founder of 3rd Ward) and former United States Deputy Chief Technology Officer Beth Noveck.

+ Reinvent Payphones Challenge

Photos via Susan NYC and Wikimedia Commons