December 11, 2018
Philadelphia unveiled a digital kiosk in Center City this week that displays a series of advertisements in exchange for free charging ports, phone service and WiFi, plus SEPTA updates.
The LinkPHL kiosks will eventually total 100 around the city, starting with the inaugural 18th and Market location.
You don't need a password to access the WiFi — you just need the Link app, which you can download here. After installng the app and inputing your information, you'll automatically connect to WiFi when you're in the vicinity of a kiosk.
The kiosk's 55-inch, vertical, touch-screens also provide SEPTA Regional Rail updates, interactive maps of Philadelphia, work from local artists, Philly fun facts and local weather news headlines. The also is a related social services app that gives information on job training and medical care.
New York City has more than 1,600 of these large sidewalk WiFi and charging stations already.
According to The Intercept, Link kiosks are equipped with microphones, three cameras and 30 sensors. Some, like "Rethink Link," worry the technology is "an opportunity for surveillance, data collection and corporate profit boxed and marketed as free WiFi."
But TechCrunch reported kiosks that rely on advertising revenue, like LinkPHL, may be a step toward building the necessary infrastructure for advanced technology without being too heavy a cost on the city. In other words, in exchange for the progress, there are trade-offs.
Full deployment will take until the end of 2019 to complete, based on the original timeline proposed in Nov. 2017.
Have a take on LinkPHL that you want to share? Did it freeze on you before you could check if your train was on time? Has it saved you from a near phone-dying disaster? Let me know.