Montgomery County is in negotiations to bring 10 to 12 touchscreen information kiosks to downtown Bethesda and Silver Spring.
The touchscreens, from New York-based company City 24/7, would essentially act as big cell phones, according to Montgomery Chief Innovation Officer Dan Hoffman.
The screens would provide directions to nearby restaurants, a one-touch connection to 911 and perhaps even real-time information on the closest Bethesda Circulator bus or other transit.
The idea is a pilot project in the county’s innovation program and almost immediately drew interest from officials in Bethesda and Silver Spring, the county’s two urban centers. The downtown areas would split the 10 to 12 kiosks.
The county is now preparing a fiscal analysis of the kiosks.
In 2011, New York City ordered 250 of the LCD-screen outfitted kiosks to replace seldom-used pay phones at bus stops and other points of interest. The city put most of the screens into operation by late 2012.
The screens could also broadcast local news, emergency alerts and use advertising dollars to pay for operating costs.
Hoffman said the best-case scenario is the county has the kiosks installed by early next year.
The Bethesda Urban Partnership, the county-supported nonprofit that promotes and maintains downtown Bethesda, has talked to the county about using the kiosks to replace its red information booths at key locations.
You’d likely see the kiosks at entrances to the Bethesda Metro station, in front of the Barnes & Noble on Bethesda Row, in Veterans Park in Woodmont Triangle and possibly at the Medical Center Metro station and near the Bethesda-Chevy Chase Regional Services Center.