Out of Home: Fueling the Connected City



Converging digital technologies and the proliferation of the Internet of Things (IoT) is driving a great change.

Our urban environment is rapidly evolving, and what is emerging is a model that is more functional, more engaging, and more efficient than ever before. More, in a word, connected. Wearables that help us perform our everyday tasks, empower us with information about our health and keep us connected to the people and things we care about most. Wi-Fi enabled cars that can sense and communicate with other vehicles and infrastructure, reducing congestion and collisions. Smart lighting that can conserve energy and enhance situational awareness. Digital information that changes based on the people around it, providing real-time train updates or traffic alerts. And that’s only the beginning.

Figure 1:  LinkNYC is replacing New York City’s payphone booths with a first-of-its-kind communications network offering high-speed Wi-Fi, free calls, and Internet browsing. LinkNYC is free thanks to a digital OOH advertising network that not only provides brands with a rich, context-aware platform to reach New Yorkers and visitors, but generates more than a half billion dollars in revenue for New York City (SOURCE: LinkNYC).

Figure 1: LinkNYC is replacing New York City’s payphone booths with a first-of-its-kind communications network offering high-speed Wi-Fi, free calls, and Internet browsing. LinkNYC is free thanks to a digital OOH advertising network that not only provides brands with a rich, context-aware platform to reach New Yorkers and visitors, but generates more than a half billion dollars in revenue for New York City (SOURCE: LinkNYC).

The grand promise is that our cities can become more reflective of our modern society rather than where we were centuries ago when they were built. That the ways in which we interact with and within our cities are transformed—how we live, work, and navigate and explore the world around us.

At a time when cities are dealing with exploding populations, environmental threats, immense stresses on data, and more, the connected city requires infrastructure, connectivity, and unrestricted access to data.

One of the major enablers of the connected city may also be one of the most surprising:  Out-of-Home advertising.

Goodbye Payphone Hello Kiosk

This new model of contextual, data-driven advertising puts relevant information in the hands of citizens exactly when they want and need it. It also takes the burden off of governments and taxpayers, generates new revenue streams for cities, and creates a new platform for brands and advertisers to better reach consumers, fueling the connected city in the process.

One such model is LinkNYC, a new communications network that will replace more than 7,500 New York City payphones with state-of-the-art kiosks called Links. Each Link is equipped with free services like gigabit speed Wi-Fi, phone calls, a tablet for web browsing, and device charging for anyone living in or visiting New York City to enjoy.

LinkNYC will be an incredible resource, but of course it also requires an enormous investment.

Not only is Link entirely free to use, but the platform is also expected to create more than half of a billion dollars in revenue for the City of New York. How? LinkNYC generates its own revenue with a network of 12,000 digital ad faces—in what will become the largest network of digital advertising screens in the world when fully deployed.

…in what will become the largest network of digital advertising screens in the world when fully deployed.

Through advertising, sponsorships and partnerships that leverage the potential of Link’s huge data driven advertising platform, Link brings together valuable services for people, new tools for government and new commercial opportunities. What’s more, the robust revenue stream the advertising platform creates helps ensure that LinkNYC can remain an asset for the city, residents and visitors for years to come—powering upgrades and investments that will make sure LinkNYC keeps pace as the manner in which we use technology continues to change in ways we cannot predict today.

Democratization

In the context of the “connected city,” it’s also important to remember that far too many city dwellers still remain in the dark. Millions of people in cities around the world currently lack access to high-speed Internet. Case in point:  one in four New Yorkers doesn’t have access to broadband Internet at home. That means more than 2.5 million people cannot take advantage of the professional, educational, and entertainment opportunities the web affords, to do things like apply for a job, navigate the city, or get assistance with homework.

LinkNYC begins to bridge that divide, fundamentally democratizing the streetscape of New York for the city’s millions of residents, commuters, visitors and businesses.

For the advertisers and brands looking to take part in the connected city, and to help make it better, relevance reigns. The opportunity lies in our ability to make sense of the enormous amount of data generated in our connected world. If we can understand patterns, we can begin to predict what consumers might value or take interest in, all while respecting individual privacy.

Today we stand ill equipped to handle that anticipated influx of data.

With projects like LinkNYC, Out-of-Home advertising has the potential to make a huge shift to a marketing platform that delivers the right message at the right time. Not unlike digital consumer products like Facebook and YouTube, both of which are valued free services funded by advertising, the same model can be applied in Out-of-Home in cities to deliver the best possible modern public services for free.

The IoT (Internet of Things) is no longer a far off vision of the future. Between wearables, devices in our homes, in our cars, in our workplaces and the places we shop, the products that exist today build upon our connected world.

But the real value created by IoT hinges on our ability to access the massive amount of data needed to make meaningful connections between things. Each year, we double our bandwidth consumption, with global data expected to increase 4300% by 2020. Today we stand ill equipped to handle that anticipated influx of data. How can we overcome this huge data crunch? Free, universal high-speed Wi-Fi is certainly a start.

Cities everywhere are under enormous pressure to adapt to our technologically advanced society. The vision of the connected city that provides useful real-time data, enhances civic participation, and stimulates innovation and economic growth is not simply a foregone conclusion. It is predicated on access to the resources to build new infrastructure, to forge meaningful connections between people and things, and to leverage and make sense of an enormous amount of data. Never before has there been a greater opportunity for Out-of-Home to extend beyond the world of advertising and into the prospect of a better urban life.


DaveHeadshotThumbDave Etherington, chief strategy officer of Intersection, will be a panelist in the seminar entitled “Out-of-Home in the Connected City” at Digital Signage Expo on Wednesday, March 16 from 4:00-5:00 pm at the Las Vegas Convention Center. For more information on this or any educational program offered at DSE 2016 or to learn more about digital signage go to www.dse2016.com

Etherington develops strategic initiatives and revenue-generating new products at the convergence of technology, design and media. One of the foremost voices in the Digital Out of Home industry, Dave’s forward-thinking vision for how brands and organizations can best engage their customers and the potential for media to catalyze change in cities helped build the largest municipally focused media company in the U.S. He also leads the development of the groundbreaking advertising platform for LinkNYC, driving revenue for New York City and presenting unique opportunities for brands to tell their story.

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