Sleek kiosks could be coming to Oakland’s business districts
The way Oakland allows businesses to advertise on city sidewalks may soon change. Historically, Clear Channel Outdoor has made a deal to advertise on bus shelters and use a portion of the revenue to maintain the structures.
But the city council is now considering expanding its “street furniture program” by installing 8-foot-tall touchscreen kiosks in its business districts. The touchscreen kiosks under study can direct people to neighborhood restaurants and shops and services like homeless shelters.
They provide free Wi-Fi and may include surveillance cameras. Bright interactive displays would be a major change in the city’s footprint, adding bus shelters, bike racks, scooters and e-bikes. Proponents say they would bring additional revenue and be a boon to local businesses.
IKE Smart City, the company that makes the kiosks, is proposing to install up to 50 in Oakland. Their technology is located locally in Berkeley, which became the first city in California to use IKE’s technology in December. Berkeley’s first set of kiosks were placed downtown, on Telegraph Avenue, and in the Lorin business district of South Berkeley.
A representative from IKE Smart City told council on Tuesday that the kiosks look like an “8-foot-tall iPhone sticking to city sidewalks.”
In “passive mode”, the screens scan advertisements, but when touched, they can help people navigate a neighborhood in multiple languages and find local attractions, services and businesses.
Clay Collett, senior director of development at IKE, said the kiosks also have what he called “emergency options,” including cameras, a 911 call system, and displays of Amber alerts and earthquake information. Collett told the council that IKE is offering to give the city one in eight publicity slides, $250,000 upfront to pay for staff time and a revenue share that could bring in about $1 million a year.
Some council members who like the kiosks said they objected to the security camera option and other features that would scrape data from people’s cellphones. Board member Sheng Thao said Oakland should follow in Berkeley’s footsteps by not allowing technology to capture IP addresses or include security cameras. This could be a consideration down the road, but should be reviewed by the city’s Privacy Advisory Commission first.
City Administrator Ed Reiskin and Department of Transportation officials warned council to move too quickly. They want more time to review the revenue share offer to ensure the program is sustainable and will complement existing street furniture.
Maintaining the city’s roughly 250 bus shelters, officials said, has been a challenge. For 20 years, the city has licensed Clear Channel Outdoor to advertise on structures. Clear Channel is helping to pay for the installation and repair of the shelters and the council at Tuesday’s meeting extended a deal with the company for another year, with an option to extend for a second year.
Although separate from the bus shelter program, the introduction of new advertising displays on city streets would compete with CCO, which was awarded a non-exclusive advertising contract for the bus shelters.
Department of Transportation Director Ryan Russo said, “We’re passionate about providing equipment in the right-of-way,” but “our main desire is not to have a nice, shiny thing in the right-of-way while we’re in the right-of-way.” ‘other things are in bad shape without a long-term strategy. .”
A contractual agreement with IKE Smart City could return to council later this year. The city council on Tuesday ordered the city administrator’s office to begin negotiations with IKE to set parameters on privacy issues, where the kiosks would be placed and how they would be maintained.