Project Update: Interactive Touchscreen Kiosks

Instant neighborhood information is increasingly demanded by visitors, residents, and travelers in the changing local community. Visitors want to discover top-rated restaurants and attractions; residents need to learn about local programs and services and receive safety alerts; travelers expect to save time by accessing real-time data about public transit and roads. All of that information requires public information communication. Diverse methods have been used to deliver public communication, including interactive touch-screen kiosks.  Montgomery County wants to pilot the use of these kiosks to deliver better public communication for pedestrians, improve way finding, help local business, and keep the community safe.

Kiosk specs

Although the specific functions and specifications are still to be determined, some features are known, which include:

  • The touchscreens will be approximately 47”, High Definition, LCD, LED backlit, and use the latest in green technology to reduce power consumption.
  • Each kiosk has two exterior grade speakers and one exterior grade microphone for public announcements and individual communication.
  • Wireless hot spots are also a planned function to provide pedestrians convenience for urgent information searching with their own portable devices (mobile phones, tablets, etc.).
  • Each enclosure will contain an environmental control system rated for outdoor installation.

Experiences from other jurisdictions

Montgomery County is not the only jurisdiction that sees the benefits of these types of kiosks as a tool used for public communication. Recently, New York City installed touchscreen maps in subways, and replaced payphones with interactive kiosks. Rochester, NY leveraged such kiosks as a way finding facility for visitors. Our project, though similar, is a little different from both New York City and the City of Rochester. The locations selected for New York City are mainly for subway stations and select business areas. Our pilot will focus initially on Silver Spring and Bethesda but not in areas controlled by WMATA.

Current site selection and partnerships

As this project is only a pilot program, a small number of locations are being sought as we collect lessons learned and operational experience. With help from the Silver Spring Regional Center, Bethesda Regional Center, and Bethesda Urban Partnership, we have tentatively identified some candidate locations that you can see on the Google maps below (you may need to zoom out once the map loads to see all the sites at once):

Those locations include traffic centers, downtown centers, colleges, and Regional Centers.

Next steps

We welcome your feedback on these locations and other potential locations. It is important to stress that all of this is TENTATIVE and pending approval. We are currently finalizing our fiscal analysis of pilot. The intent is to create a revenue neutral or very low cost pilot. Moving forward on this pilot is still subject to approval by the appropriate authorities.