7000 Wi-Fi Kiosks in NYC: A Gift for the Homeless


LinkNYC’s free wi-fi kiosks started rolling out at the end of 2014. Supposedly 2 million people are now using the system — twice as many as in January. Frankly I find this hard to believe.

  • My experience with the system is with the hoards of homeless and drug dealers they attract.
  • They’re also popular as a dumping ground for garbage.
  • I occasionally see some youthful tourists trying to charge their phones. It generally only takes a few minutes for them to figure out what a cesspool they’ve stumbled into.
  • I have 3 kiosks within 2 blocks of where I live so am very familiar with how they function and how they’ve impacted my neighborhood.
  • It is not a positive addition; my neighbors and I find zero to praise about them.
  • Currently there are 1000 spread around the city. Another 6000 are planned.

In theory, having the city blanketed with ultrafast wi-fi is a great idea. In reality, it’s dreadful.

  • For those of us who live in communities with a growing homeless population (which is pretty much all of NYC since homelessness is up 40% over the last year), this is not a very neighborly program.
  • Even the mayor won’t take the subway until it’s been “swept” to get rid of the homeless.
  • And now we have a company that wants to bring these beacons of homelessness right into each of our neighborhoods.


Read on below for highlights of the program – or check out full details from computerworld.com, here.

The LinkNYC kiosks are the work of a Google-backed startup called Intersection.

  • The company has installed 1,000 kiosks, aims to install 6,000 more
  • Each kiosk houses a big-screen display for advertising (which pays for the set up).
  • Advertisers I’ve noticed lately: Perrier, Delta
  • Each kiosk provides free, high-speed Wi-Fi for anyone in range.
  • The Wi-Fi, connected by fiber, is blistering fast — far faster than the average connection speeds offered by mobile carriers over cell networks.
  • Eventually, anyone will be able to walk around most of the city without losing the connection to these hotspots.
  • Some NY content creators producing massive amounts of content, such as HD videos, are now hauling their laptops down to the street for faster uploading (I have not seen this but perhaps in other parts of the city……)
  • Wide-angle cameras on each side of the kiosks point up and down the street and sidewalk. I guess that’s a security measure. The company claims it deletes stored videos after 7 days, unless there’s a compelling reason to keep them.
  • Note: If this worked, it could help round up hundreds of drug dealers. Of course, our mayor is not keen on actually arresting anyone for anything anymore– it’s his best bet at keeping crime statistics low.

London is the second Intersection city, where the project is called InLinkUK and the kiosks are called “InLinks.”

  • The London project is more modest, with a goal of around 1,000 kiosks.
  • Intersection plans to deploy in 20 more cities after that.

Intersection is tightly conjoined with Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs company, which works to accelerate and guide the creation of smart cities.

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