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Listen In: Blending Tech with Media to Make Cities Smarter

August 8, 2016

The latest episode of “Behind The Numbers” focuses on smart cities. How is the combination of media and technology fueling municipal innovation, bringing new digital services to denizens and opening up new, cutting-edge advertising opportunities?

Hosts Marcus Johnson and Bryan Yeager kick things off by talking about the Pokémon Go craze that’s swept the world by storm over the past month and share some fresh data about the game’s rapid adoption.

Our guest for this episode is Dave Etherington, the chief strategy officer for Intersection, a company owned by Sidewalk Labs, which itself resides under the Alphabet umbrella of companies alongside Google.

Intersection is one of the key companies responsible for a program called LinkNYC. Under the LinkNYC program, thousands of tall, slim gray and black kiosks are being installed across the five boroughs over the next several years, each of which provides free superfast wifi, phone charging, information services and large, vibrant screens used for a mix of public service messages and advertising.

Etherington shares his thoughts on why the incorporation of paid media models is important to help fund the development of new technologies and services: “The expectations and aspirations of citizens have massively changed... Increasingly, the advertising concessions related to their infrastructure are seen as vehicles for innovation. That’s really where we’re at in our focus from the media side. With these advertising contracts, we’re able to introduce not just increased advertising revenue for cities, but we can bring in new technologies and innovation.”

Also covered is the potential to equip these types of devices with cameras and sensors that can provide new insights to cities and help them make smarter decisions about how they allocate resources or help residents optimize their use of public transit. “When you think about LinkNYC and 7,500 fairly evenly-distributed nodes across the five boroughs, then that does represent a really interesting opportunity to learn more about behaviors of the city,” that could bring new insights and ultimately make it a more enjoyable place to live, according to Etherington.

US Digital Out-of-Home Ad Spending, 2014-2019 (billions, % change and % of total out-of-home ad spending)

And finally, Etherington provides several examples as to how the rollout of LinkNYC and programs like it can enable a new degree of relevant and engaging digital out-of-home advertising. One recent campaign on the LinkNYC platform came from MillerCoors’ Coors Light brand, which used location-based Shazam data to populate top-ten playlists for each neighborhood. Another, from online real estate marketplace StreetEasy, showed listings specific to the neighborhood in which the kiosk was located.

Want to make sure you never miss an episode? Subscribe to “Behind the Numbers” on iTunes, SoundCloud, Sticher Radio or search for it on Google Play.

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