Access to the world via public Internet kiosks
“Today, the internet isn’t accessible for two thirds of the world. Imagine a world where it connects us all.” – Mark Zuckerberg
Internet.org is a global partnership dedicated to making internet access affordable and available to the two thirds of the world not yet connected. It’s an initiative that seems like a mammoth, almost unrealistic task. But is it doable? Only time will tell. Today, only 2.7 billion of the world’s 7 billion or so inhabitants currently have access to the internet with internet adoption at less than 9% annually. If this feat is achieved, the next step would be accessibility to enabling devices.
Internet.org believes that in order to make this a reality, “Potential projects [would] include collaborations to develop lower cost, higher quality smartphones and partnerships to more broadly deploy internet access in underserved communities.” They believe mobile operators can play a central role in this effort through initiatives that can benefit the entire ecosystem.
‘Helping businesses drive access,’ is one of the three challenges that the partnership would address, “Partners will support development of sustainable new business models and services that make it easier for people to access the internet. This includes testing new models that align incentives for mobile operators, device manufacturers, developers and other businesses to provide more affordable access than has previously been possible. Other efforts will focus on localizing services — working with operating system providers and other partners to enable more languages on mobile devices.”
But other options could also be considered, including the feasibility of public internet kiosks, especially for those that can’t afford or choose not to use other devices, even if they are competitively priced. Public internet kiosks are usually used by businesses and are capable of bringing cutting‐edge technology to customers while improving their purchase experience. Imagine if private companies or governments are able to make these accessible to users that otherwise could not access the internet.
Both the hardware and software for public internet kiosks can be customized or standard, and can be ruggedized in order to accommodate the demands of heavy usage. Advertising could also be used to offset the initial implementation costs as well as ongoing maintenance of the units.
Just recently, a project first announced by Mayor Michael Bloomberg last year was put back into the spotlight. It is an effort that would see the transformation of aging payphone kiosks into WiFi hotspots or “communication points” bringing free WiFi throughout the city. It is hoped that the project, which will be funded by advertising and allow users to call 911 and 311 free of charge, will be launched by 2018, at the latest. Currently there are a few WiFi‐enabled booths in Manhattan, Queens and Brooklyn which launched in 2012, but it is hoped that the new project will vastly increase availability to parts of the five boroughs.
It’s a step in the right direction to providing widespread access, and certainly something that can be explored through the use of various hardware options, including public internet kiosks.
Kisha Wilson Kisha Wilson is the Marketing Manager at SlabbKiosks, Inc. with a passion for writing. I have been in the field of Marketing and Communications for the past 8 yrs. www