Houston installs new smart city tech to better engage community and visitors
Finding your way around Houston is going digital.
On February 7, city officials and others unveiled the first in a series of interactive wayfinding kiosks in Houston. The inaugural kiosk sits at Walker Street and Avenida De Las Americas, adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center.
IKE (Interactive Kiosk Experience) Smart City, a venture of Columbus, Ohio-based Orange Barrel Media, secured the city contract for the kiosks.
According to a City of Houston news release, the citywide IKE initiative is designed “to build smart city infrastructure that enhances the pedestrian experience for residents and visitors, while adding vibrancy to Houston’s urban landscape.”
The new IKE kiosks are touch screen. Photo courtesy of the city of Houston
Installation of the 25 IKE kiosks will happen in phases. Among the areas where kiosks will appear are downtown, Uptown, Midtown, Montrose, the Museum District, the Texas Medical Center, the Greater Third Ward, EaDo, Upper Kirby, Gulfton, and Sunnyside.
Mayor Sylvester Turner says Houston “has so much to offer, and the IKE digital kiosks will be an exciting new amenity to help guide people in various directions to enjoy events, restaurants, and much more. These kiosks are one of the many ways Houston is moving forward with creating more walkable spaces that make for a safer and more pleasant experience.”
Each free-to-use kiosk serves as a geo-located Wi-Fi hotspot that enables information about what’s in the vicinity to be displayed on dual-sided touchscreens. The multilingual kiosks feature detailed listings of nearby restaurants, shops, businesses, cultural institutions, events, social services, and other resources. The kiosks also supply information about transportation modes such as public transit, bike share, scooters, ride-hailing, and walking.
Furthermore, the IKE system spreads critical real-time emergency information. This could include alerts about hurricanes, active-shooter situations, and missing people.
As if that weren’t enough, IKE has teamed up with the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston to promote their exhibitions and artwork on the kiosks.
“We are excited to partner with the City of Houston, one of the largest and most diverse cities in the country. IKE will further activate the pedestrian experience providing widespread connectivity and equal access to information to all communities,” says Pete Scantland, CEO of IKE Smart City. “We look forward to serving Houston’s residents and visitors through IKE.”
The first IKE kiosk was unveiled February 7. Photo courtesy of the city of Houston