The payphone. Despite how connected our world has gotten in the last decade or so, the majority of the 11,000 payphones in NYC stem from a 1999 contract. Due to expire and renew in October 2014, the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) has been actively figuring out how and what type of modern solution it wants to replace roughly all 11,000 of them with. You’ve heard about a small number being retrofitted with WiFi hotspots and SmartScreen information portals, but those have essentially been tests.

Last night at Quirky’s offices, the city picked out finalists for five categories that could possibly help “Reinvent Payphones” here in the Big Apple: “connectivity, creativity, visual design, functionality and community impact.” Well over 120 entries were submitted since this design challenge kicked off last December at the NY Tech Meetup, with a total of 11 semifinalists having gotten the chance to present their ideas last night for judging. As it turns out, there was a tie for community impact, leaving six finalists overall. Better yet, out of those six, the public can take to Facebook from now until March 14th to select a “popular vote” winner. Curious for more insight? We got to chat with the city’s Director of External Affairs at the Department of Information, Nicholas Sbordone, about the project and he talked about how it went down and what it means for the future of payphones in NYC.

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Source: Reinvent Payphones (Facebook Popular Vote), Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge, NYC Digital

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