RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Most people can tell they’ve arrived in downtown Raleigh by the sights of parking meters and rentable scooters. Now a new phase of technology will be a key indicator you’re in downtown.
New, double-sided, interactive kiosks are coming soon, which are designed to “help residents and visitors explore the city,” according to the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. Five kiosk sites are currently under construction with an anticipated network of 15 sites total to be completed over the next few months.
What are they called?
In a release on the new tech, the DRA said the new kiosks will be known as “IKE,” standing for Interactive Kiosk Experience. Members of the Alliance, the Raleigh City Council and Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin will unveil the new kiosks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in November.
The kiosks, which are multilingual and ADA compliant, will offer a suite of apps that can point users in the right direction to a list of destinations around downtown. They will also come equipped with real-time transit information and mapping tools.
“The wayfinding will allow visitors, residents, employees downtown the ability to kind of more permeably see what else is going on in these districts,” said Will Gaskins, Vice President of Economic Development with the Downtown Raleigh Alliance. “For example, you can be on Fayetteville Street and see that there’s a Dueling Dinosaurs exhibit going on at the Museum of Natural Sciences.”
“The things that will come up first in the directories are ones immediately around you. So you’ll see things like public art and other things that will help you chain together more of a visit,” he explained.
Mayor Baldwin has spoken highly of the technology and the benefit it has brought her while visiting other cities.
“IKE proved invaluable in helping us identify restaurants, museums and fun places to visit,” she said. “After my experience, I worked to bring them to Raleigh, and I’m excited they are finally here. These kiosks will provide valuable information to residents, conference goers, and tourists about our downtown businesses and events, improving their experience.”
Narrowing the digital divide, improving safety
In addition to helping those new to the city or locals wanting to find a new spot to explore, the kiosks will also help with connectivity and safety, the Alliance said in a statement on Monday.
“IKE’s free Wi-Fi and easily accessible information on social services narrow the digital divide,” the statment said.
The IKE locations will be able to display critical public safety information as well as important community messages in the event of any emergencies.
“It can be used for everything from ‘Hey, there’s a closure in place.’ ‘There’s a gas line break’ or something like that,” Gaskins explained.
The kiosks also provide ambient lighting and come with an emergency call system.
“The capacity to update information digitally, in real time, provides much more functionality than static signage,” said Bill King, President & CEO of Downtown Raleigh Alliance. “It will connect storefront businesses and destinations across districts, provide real time transit information, and direct those in need to support services.”
“I think it’s a great idea, simple because there are times, especially during the summer, where there are road closures downtown,” said Skye David, who lives and works downtown. “Whether you’re new here or you’re visiting or you’ve been here a while, that’s a nice service that everyone will be able to utilize.”
The initiative to bring IKE to Raleigh was approved by a unanimous vote at City Council at their April 19, 2022 meeting. Included in the agreement is that the kiosks do not require any money from the City of Raleigh or taxpayers to be installed or used. Click here for more information.