SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY

Kiosks herald Newark’s high-tech hub surge

BY David Cruz, Senior Correspondent |

Let’s say you’re a big city mayor and you’re in the middle of a news conference and demo of a new high-tech street kiosk that connects you to a hot spot, and city services, and traffic and transit info, and offers free phone calls across the U.S. You’re hungry, but you’re also late for your next event. Clearly, this is a job for a LinkNWK kiosk.

The mayor was at Military Park downtown surrounded by a crowd of tech-looking hipsters, or hip-looking techsters, demonstrating the new advertiser-supported kiosks from the New York-based Intersection, which has deployed thousands of kiosks in London and New York.

“These links here in Newark are special,” said Jen Hensley, president of LINK at Intersection. “They’re unique in the whole world because they’re connected by municipal fiber. The city had the foresight to really invest in infrastructure, and today what you’re seeing is a manifestation of that in the form of services being offered for free to all of the residents, workers and visitors here.”

The city’s 26-mile superfast fiber optic network is now powering the city’s rebranding, which includes a major push for the new Amazon HQ2. The first of these kiosks — there will be 45 in all at various commercial centers around the city — will be at Military Park, around which a transformation has already begun.

“Military Park is kind of a center of gravity in this section, gathering space, there’s a ton of festivals, events, people come out, they eat here, so it’s just been a game changer,” said Newark Community Economic Development Corporation CEO Aisha Glover. “There was kind of a hole in the doughnut here and it really sparked a lot of development. You know, Halsey is booming, a lot more restaurants are moving in, so it really changed the dynamic.”

But if you’re one of those people who fears — as an out of town reporter did — that the kiosks will attract some of the city’s less affluent denizens, the mayor made it clear that serving them was part of this initiative.

“The technology has to be used to help everybody in society,” responded the mayor. “It’s not just for the people across the street at Prudential. For somebody right there, sleeping in the park that uses that and finds a home, hell yeah that’s something that we want to use the kiosks for.”

Locations and timelines are subject to city approvals but the first two kiosks, like all those signs of the city’s comeback, have already arrived.