During this election season, the LinkNYC kiosks that dot the city’s landscape are proving themselves to be good for much more than just charging iPhones and using Wi-Fi, according to officials. The sidewalk technology stations were part of a major Get Out the Vote effort by flashing constant reminders for residents to vote.
In the days leading up to Election Day, the 55-inch screens on LinkNYC kiosks displayed reminders to vote, along with information on polling site hours. Residents could also find their polling sites by using the Link tablet.
The idea is to offer busy New Yorkers information on the go, officials said.
“Link has transformed the way information is delivered on city streets, and supporting civic engagement has become a core part of our mission. With thousands of screens encouraging New Yorkers to vote, and offering helpful resources for voters on the go, we hope to support a strong showing of democracy this Election Day,” Ruth Fasoldt, Link’s director of external affairs, told this newspaper via email.
The kiosks were put to good use during the primary season in September by reminding residents to vote on Sept. 13. And as the city’s Oct. 12 voter registration deadline approached, the technology stations flashed messages reminding people that they had to register by that date in order to be eligible to vote on Nov. 6.
For statistics fans, the screens displayed information on how many people had registered to vote in each election district.
There are more than 1,700 LinkNYC kiosks around the city, including hundreds in Brooklyn.
The kiosks are part of an ambitious technology initiative launched by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications in 2016. A total of 7,500 of the kiosks is expected to be installed over the next decade.
The kiosks replaced the old pay telephones that used to line city sidewalks.
The stations offer free Wi-Fi, free phone calls, easy access to the city’s 911 and 311 systems, maps and the social services platform Aunt Bertha through a LinkNYC network, officials said.
The kiosks are also equipped to serve as charging stations for residents seeking to charge their phones and other mobile devices.
A consortium called CityBridge is in charge of the LinkNYC program.
Since 2016, more than five million people have used the LinkNYC’s free Wi-Fi service, according to officials, who said 500,000 phone calls are made every month from the technology stations.