Jeramey Jannene

First Streetcar Smart Kiosks Installed

Each with interactive displays mixing ads, streetcar arrival data and PSA's.

By - Apr 3rd, 2021 06:18 pm
CityPost smart kiosk at the Burns Commons streetcar station. Photo taken April 3rd, 2021 by Dave Reid.

CityPost smart kiosk at the Burns Commons streetcar station. Photo by Dave Reid.

New pedestrian-sized billboards have begun to emerge in downtown Milwaukee.

Eight-and-a-half-foot-tall CityPost smart kiosks have been installed at multiple stations along the 2.1-mile-long streetcar route. The first kiosks can be seen at the Cathedral Square, Burns Commons and Intermodal stations.

A public-private partnership between the City of Milwaukee and New York-based Smart City Media will ultimately include the installation of 35 kiosks throughout the downtown area, clustered along the streetcar route.

Once activated, the screens on the dual-sided kiosks will include a mix of real-time streetcar arrival information, public service announcements and advertisements.

The 41-inch-wide and 11.6-inch-deep kiosks, known as CityPosts, include two 55-inch touchscreens. Passersby will see ads approximately half the time and can touch the screen to access information. Smart City will sell those ads.

Smart City also operates kiosks near transit systems in Kansas City, Little Rock, Louisville, Memphis and, as of early 2020, was deploying 300 kiosks in Dallas. Milwaukee officials believe that scale will allow the company to sell broader advertising partnerships.

The city, as part of a 10-year agreement, will receive 20 percent of the advertising revenue over the first three years and up to 33 percent of the revenue over the remainder of the deal. It does not have to pay to install and maintain the kiosks.

“We’re being a little bit conservative, but it’s probably in that $300,000 to $500,000 range,” said Public Works Commissioner Jeff Polenske in February 2020 of the potential annual revenue. “It could be more.” The Department of Public Works estimated the system would be online in time for the Democratic National Convention. But the pandemic intervened, and the 50,000 DNC visitors never arrived, nor did the kiosks.

Kiosks not directly on the route will be located strategically to help drive people to The Hop. “For example, the stops on [E. Ogden St.], trying to make that connection to Brady Street,” said Polenske, noting only four blocks separate the streetcar from the Lower East Side commercial corridor. All of the locations will be located in the public right of way.

The kiosks have the capability to have sound with advertisements, but the city must sign off on each sound-making advertisement.

The devices also include a 360-degree camera that is to be accessible by the Milwaukee Police Department. They also have cameras and microphones for users to interact with in the event of emergencies.

The city’s 2021 budget includes $4.5 million for streetcar operations with funding coming from Potawatomi’s presenting sponsorship ($833,333), advertising ($390,000) and federal CARES Act funding ($110,000). The city will also receive a new round of federal funds as part of the latest transit stimulus allocation in the American Rescue Plan Act. The remaining funding necessary to operate the system comes from parking revenues. The 2021 budget calls for $37.9 million in parking revenue in 2021, including $15.4 million from citations.


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More about the Milwaukee Streetcar

For more project details, including the project timeline, financing, route and possible extensions, see our extensive past coverage.

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Categories: Transportation

3 thoughts on “Transportation: First Streetcar Smart Kiosks Installed”

  1. David Coles says:

    More advertising bombarding us everywhere we go. Yuck.

  2. Duane says:

    Who is responsible for keeping them clean? Will hand sanitizer be available nearby? If I loose control of my rented electric scooter and smash into one of the ad obelisks am I liable for the damage of can I just take off running?

  3. Mdamat says:

    And while we’re at it, what about all those motorized chariots out there? And lights on the streets? where did those come from? And those paved horse trails now used as roads? Who’s idea was that? “Stop and go” lights? nothing but light pollution. to hell with anything new and creative!

    Ludites of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but the future (and progress).

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