Houston City Council to vote on approval of installation of 75 kiosks downtown

HOUSTON – The Houston City Council is expected to vote on the approval of 75 kiosks Wednesday.

The kiosks, which are eight feet tall, are interactive. Some of the selling points include free public WiFi. The devices also can communicate in multiple languages.

“I think that (it’s an) opportunity for us to provide that real-time interaction, connection, and information to Houstonians as well as visitors and businesses,” Councilwoman Martha Castex-Tatum said.

The kiosks will let people know where they are downtown, and in relation to which local attractions. Also, there is no cost to the city for installation. Instead, Ike Smart City LLC, the company that owns the kiosks, wouldn’t charge the city for them.

The proposal is a 12-year deal. One of the companies that own the kiosks says they could net the city upwards of $50 million in potential ad revenue.

Supporters also say the kiosks would be spread all over the city, which would be considered a win because that includes underrepresented communities with local gems open for business.

The proposal has the city receiving 42% of the revenue made from ads the kiosks are pitched to display. Those potential ads, on digital kiosks, on the streets of downtown? That seems more like sidewalk billboards critics blast.

“We are definitely not against a lot of things, great things that the kiosks do. The only trouble that we’re having is with the heavy ad rotation,” Heather Houston, the executive director of Scenic Houston, said.

If approved, the kiosks would be installed around the city by 2024.

About the Authors:

Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. NOLA born and bred, though #HoustonStrong, with stops in Minnesota, New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut in along the way.