You don’t have to be involved in city planning or work in the tech industry to be familiar with the term “smart city.” The concept, which has now been adopted by cities across the world, is transforming the ways in which residents and visitors, alike, experience cities. Loosely defined as a “municipality that uses information and communication technologies to increase operational efficiency, share information with the public, and improve both the quality of government services and citizen welfare,” smart cities serve as a way for cities to utilize technology to make these transformations.
As the presence of and demand for technology in all aspects of everyday life continues to increase, so does the presence of smart city technologies. In fact, according to a recent study conducted by the Eden Strategy Institute and OXD, 12 of the top 50 smart cities lie in the U.S. Those cities include New York City, Boston, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Charlotte, Washington DC, Columbus, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Kansas City, and Philadelphia.
Technology growth isn’t the only driving factor, though. As populations have continued to grow, especially in these large cities, is has become imperative that the cities find ways to implement technology into their infrastructure and daily operations to keep up with needs of the growing citizen and visitor populations. Though the smart city infrastructure can come to life in a variety of different forms—some of which include public transportation, IT connectivity, smart street lights, and digital kiosks—digital kiosks have emerged as an especially versatile addition to any smart city.
When implemented, digital kiosks can fulfill a variety of different roles, from check-in, to parking, transportation, information, wayfinding, and bill payment.
Regardless of the city, a visitor’s first stop when they arrive is typically at the check-in desk of their hotel. This process, however, can often be a timely engagement, potentially costing visitors time that they could have spent elsewhere in the city. Check-in kiosks make hotel check-in simple and speed up the process.
Visitors can enter confirmation information, make their payment, and receive their room key, all in a matter of minutes. Check-in kiosks can also be used when visitors arrive for tours, museums, or sightseeing excursions. Alternatively, for those who live and work in the city, check-in kiosks can be used in office buildings, medical offices, and schools.
Parking and Transportation Kiosks
In addition to long waits at check-in, another woe commonly faced by both city visitors and residents is transportation. For those who choose to drive themselves to the city, parking kiosks can ease drivers’ worries by serving a variety of different roles—from simple parking spot payment when drivers arrive at their destination, to parking spot reservations made in advance. They can also be used to help drivers find their parked car or an empty parking space in a parking garage without having to search throughout the entire garage.
For those who choose to take an alternative form of transportation to the city, transportation kiosks can be used to display schedules and arrival times, or even sell tickets for public transportation services like trains and busses.
Information and Wayfinding Kiosks
Whether a visitor or a local, information on local attractions, restaurants, stores, and events is always useful to have close by. Information and wayfinding kiosks enable cities to provide information on the aforementioned attractions, restaurants, stores, and events, while at the same time allowing users to navigate the individual listing to visit their website, read more information, find out hours of operation, and even eventually navigate their destination. They also have the ability to integrate with mobile devices and print on demand to ensure that users successfully find their way.
Regardless of whether or not a user has a particular destination in mind when they approach the kiosk, information and wayfinding kiosks encourage them to explore all that the city has to offer.
Bill Payment Kiosks
Digital kiosks can also be incorporated with city-wide service providers, utility companies, and courts to allow residents and visitors to pay their regular bills along with any other city or court-issued fines or fees. From court fines to power bills, water bills, and parking tickets, bill payment kiosks allow users to make payments through the form of their choice, eliminating the need to remit payment online, in-person, or through the mail. These convenient solutions can be strategically placed in a variety of locations throughout a city to promote efficiency and prompt payment by alleviating the stress of making payment through a specific form or in a specific location.
From check-in, to parking and transportation, to information and wayfinding, and bill payment, digital kiosks’ flexible nature enables them to provide solutions for a variety of different use cases. As smart cities continue to emerge across the country and the world, digital kiosks will continue to play a key role in their development.
This article first appeared in the 2019 Kiosk Marketplace Annual Census Report.