upgrade

Houston installs new smart city tech to better engage community and visitors

Houstonians and visitors alike have a new technology to help them find their way around town. Photo courtesy of the city of Houston

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

Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

The latest cohort from gBETA Houston has been announced and is currently underway at the Downtown Launchpad. Photo courtesy

A national startup accelerator has announced its fifth local cohort, which includes five Houston companies participating in the spring 2022 class.

Madison, Wisconsin-based gener8tor has announced today the five participating startups in gBETA Houston. The program will be led by Muriel Foster, the newly named director of gBETA Houston, which originally launched in Houston in 2020 thanks to a grant from from the Downtown Redevelopment Authority.

The program, which is designed to help guide early-stage startups find early customer traction, connect with mentors, and more, is based in the Downtown Launchpad, and is free and does not take equity in the participating companies. The cohort kicked off on April 21 and concludes on June 10.

The new cohort includes:

  • Founded by CEO Steffie Thomson a year ago, Getaway Sticks has designed a shoe that gives women the painless support they need using athletic foam to create a shoe that gives women the painless support they need. Getaway Sticks provides the solutions to women’s #1 wardrobe complaint of high heel pain. Since launch, the company has earned over $35,000 in revenue from over 150 customers.
  • Through a combination of software and hardware technology, LocBox is rethinking the shopping experience for online and local purchases. If you shop, ship, or have food delivered to your house, LocBox will make your life easier. Led by CEO Sterling Sansing, LocBox has previously participated in the Texas A&M MBA Venture Challenge.
  • SpeakHaus is focused on equipping young professionals and entrepreneurs with public speaking skills through its on-demand training platform and group coaching program. Since launching in October 2021, SpeakHaus has facilitated 6 corporate trainings and coached 61 business leaders generating over $49,000 in revenue. The company is led by CEO Christa Clarke.
  • Led by CEO LaGina Harris, The Us Space is creating spaces intentionally for women of color, women-led businesses, and women-centric organizations. Since launching in June 2021, The Us Space has created partnerships with more than a dozen community organizations, sustainable businesses, and organizations creating positive economic impact in the City of Houston.
  • Founded in August 2021, Urban Eatz Delivery is a food delivery service app that caters to the overlooked and underrepresented restaurants, food trucks, and home-based food vendors. Urban Eatz Delivery has earned over $88,000 in revenue, delivered to over 2,000 users, and worked with 36 restaurant and food vendors on the app. The company is led by CEO D’Andre Good.

“The five companies selected for the Spring 2022 cohort tackle unique problems that have propelled them to create a business that solves the issues they once faced," Foster says in a news release. "From public speaking, apparel comfort, and food delivery from underrepresented restaurant owners, these founders have found their niche and are ready to continue to make an enormous impact on the Houston ecosystem."

it's Foster's first cohort at the helm of the program. A Houston native, she has her master’s in public administration from Texas Southern University and a bachelor’s in marketing from Oklahoma State University. Her background includes work in the nonprofit sector and international business consulting in Cape Town, South Africa, and she's worked within programming at organizations such as MassChallenge, BLCK VC, and now gener8tor.

The program is housed at the Downtown Launchpad. The five startups will have access to the space to meet with mentors, attend events, and run their companies.

"Creating (the hub) was a little like a moonshot, but it’s paying off and contributing enormous impact to the city’s economy. The five startups selected for the gBETA Houston Spring cohort will continue that legacy,” says Robert Pieroni, director of economic development at Central Houston Inc., in the release. “As these entrepreneurs chase their dreams and create something epic, they will know Downtown Houston is standing behind them. I am so proud of what Downtown Launchpad is already, and what it will become.”

Muriel Foster, a native Houstonian, is the new director of gBETA Houston. Image via LinkedIn

Trending News