The Mayor of New York has kicked off a competition for those with ideas on the future of the city's 11,000 phone boxes, with a view to deploying something new when the existing contract runs out in 2014.
The Mayor is looking for something interesting, and something which will help New Yorkers communicate, especially in an emergency when the cellular infrastructure might not be up to scratch. The competition is also supposed to "foster innovative, data and design-driven ideas that will help modernize payphone infrastructure".
Twenty years back there were 35,000 payphones on the streets of New York, but in common with payphones everywhere their use has been steadily declining and these days there are only 11,000 of them left. Those boxes are covered by a contract signed by the city in 1999, but that expires in 2014 which is prompted this competition.
There are some next-generation boxes around Times Square, with wi-fi and touch-screen ad hoardings, but this competition is intended to throw up something more iconic to replace all the existing, familiar, boxes.
Submissions are invited from "urban designers, planners, technologists and policy experts" who can sign up online then go along to an open briefing session on January 23 and will have to get their prototypes in by February 18 with 15 of those submissions being publicly showcased on March 5. The city isn't promising anything beyond then, but it seems likely that one of those 15 will then be selected to grace the streets of the Big Apple.
*We know Mr. Kent spent most of his time in Metropolis rather than New York as such, but Spiderman always found a convenient alley in which to change - essential when one hasn't got superspeed to cover one's modesty.