Electronic interactive kiosks coming to downtown Tampa

Expected to launch in 2021, Tampa will be getting 30 interactive, electronic IKE Smart City kiosks that will be installed in three phases throughout the downtown area. These kiosks will be near commercial and cultural destinations and in nearby communities. 

This forthcoming project will not cost the City of Tampa or taxpayers because the whole operation is covered by IKE Smart City of Columbus, Ohio through their self-sustaining business model. They’ll be getting money back over time as companies buy ads that will flash across the screen while the kiosk is not in use. 

“Think giant iPhone,” says Shaun Drinkard, Senior Director of Public Programming and Operations at the Tampa Downtown Partnership. Each kiosk is app-based, touch screen, and about 7½ feet tall. “Once you approach it, you have various options whether you’re looking for dining options, arts and culture options, transportation options. … You click on the large buttons for what it is you’re looking for and then it starts to break it down based on your exact location.”

The Tampa Downtown Partnership sees tremendous value in bringing the kiosks to downtown because a lot of their focus is on wayfinding and disseminating information about local, small businesses. IKE Smart City is looking at major cities to implement these in to spread their usage.

“Much of the wayfinding that you find downtown, static wayfinding, is probably about 10 years old and the cost point to update of hard physical wayfinding is very timely and very expensive,” Drinkard says. “With this smart city type of wayfinding, our contractual agreement is ensuring that the content on there is up-to-date, live, active, and so forth.” Within minutes, all the kiosks across the city can be updated simultaneously. “It really is 21st-century wayfinding,” Drinkard says. 

There is a certain percentage of the ads that are given to the Downtown Partnership, as well as any unpurchased ad space, to spread community messages, activities or to promote any community or city project throughout the year. Additionally, public service announcements will be displayed covering any immediate health, safety, or welfare concerns. 

“It’s a great tool to educate the public based on what kind of small businesses are within walking distance, not rated by any kind of special promotions, paid ads, or anything like that. It’s purely what’s in your community,” Drinkard says. 

However, the kiosks go further than just showing you this information. “Say you were looking to go to a bike shop. From the kiosk, you then can send that information to your smartphone via text message,” Drinkard explains. “It will send you a text message with information such as a link direct to their website, their phone number, their address, a link to Google maps to then go from your phone and walk you step by step to that business.” All transit information will also be available to view. 

These kiosks give everyone the opportunity, whether you have a smartphone and data or not, to utilize all the benefits of having these free Wi-Fi hot spots.

Read more articles by Lauren Wong.

Lauren Wong is a graduate of the University of Tampa with a degree in journalism who is freelancing while she looks for a full-time job. Originally from the Chicago area, she enjoys travel and aspires to be a travel photojournalist. During the summer of 2019, she worked for Premier Travel Media in Chicago and as a correspondent for Input Fort Wayne, another Issue Media group online magazine based in Indiana. She loves spending time outdoors camping, kayaking, and taking pictures.