Verizon and Sacramento may have jointly decided to put on hold the installation of 15 digital kiosks starting in and around downtown, but the city’s innovation lead told Techwire their $100 million public-private partnership will yield significant results next year.
In a statement and an email, the communications company and the city, respectively, agreed both had moved to put the kiosks on hold in October. Verizon indicated the city’s needs “are dynamic and technology continues to evolve.” Sacramento Chief Innovation Officer Louis Stewart said in an interview that the state capital became one of the first four cities nationally to debut wireless 5G broadband, along with Los Angeles, Houston and Indianapolis on Oct. 1. Related offerings should arrive in 2019, among them:
• Sacramento is also on schedule to be one of the nation’s first 11 cities to stand up the infrastructure needed to underpin 5G and a connected future including in-ground fiber to link light poles and traffic signals and materials to support free Wi-Fi via kiosks in 27 parks. Much of this should arrive in early 2019, the innovation officer said, calling the digital kiosks “not on hold indefinitely” and indicating “the conversation is still happening.”
• It remains somewhat unclear why the kiosks — a number of which were aimed at deployment in old Sacramento and on J Street — were halted for now. But the CIO said durability, resiliency and fit were “a conversation piece” for the street-level devices, particularly how the kiosks would fit the “look and feel” of downtown’s varied environments. The kiosks are about 13 feet tall and weigh around 1,300 pounds.
• Emilie Cameron, public affairs and communications director for Downtown Sacramento Partnership (DSP), the nonprofit that manages the assessment for the property-based improvement district, said the city reached out to the group in late 2017 with “high-level” information about the partnership. But she described the conversation as “conceptual.” She described the response to the kiosks as generally positive but agreed district members are interested to learn where the devices will be located, what they’ll look like and what content and services will be offered. “You don’t want anything to be in conflict with the streetscape,” Cameron said.
• Stewart said a great deal of coordination must happen to enable deployment of infrastructure and services in 2019, which he described as “a fairly heavy lift.” Sacramento, the innovation executive said, wants to ensure the project is “done right” for the community whether in the parks or in the downtown corridor, to enable “the right user experience.” Much content development for the kiosks’ digital displays remains to be completed, he said, but officials are currently in the “ideation phase.”
“If the future that everybody’s looking at is how do you build, ultimately, a connected city, kiosks fit into that, whether it be providing additional connectivity to connect the cars and autonomous cars as they essentially geolocate, driving down the streets. They could provide other smart city solutions, be they charging stations or power down the road, in some kind of way,” Stewart said.