Mayor's Office Press Release
City of Houston and IKE Smart City Launch Innovative Interactive Digital Kiosks
February 7, 2022 -- In partnership with IKE Smart City, the City of Houston unveiled the first in a series of digital interactive, wayfinding kiosks called IKE (Interactive Kiosk Experience) at a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, February 7, 2022, adjacent to the George R. Brown Convention Center on the corner of Walker Street and Avenida De Las Americas. With Mayor Sylvester Turner, Councilmembers, and many other City stakeholders in attendance, the event marks the launch of a City-wide initiative to build smart city infrastructure that enhances the pedestrian experience for residents and visitors, while adding vibrancy to Houston’s urban landscape.
The City of Houston released an RFP (Request For Proposal) for Interactive Digital Kiosks in March of 2020 and selected IKE Smart City as the vendor in March of 2021, which was later approved by City Council in May. Post approval, IKE Smart City worked collaboratively with the City of Houston, Houston First, neighborhood groups, and adjacent property owners on location selection, kiosk branding, and on-screen content. Installation will occur in phases of 25 kiosks throughout several neighborhoods including Downtown, Uptown, Midtown, Montrose, Museum District, Texas Medical Center, Greater Third Ward, EaDo, Upper Kirby, and more. Further, at least 10% of all IKE kiosks will be located in underserved neighborhoods, as defined by the City, including Gulfton, Sunnyside and others.
IKE puts innovative technology in commercial, pedestrian-oriented areas to offer advanced wayfinding capabilities through smart city technology. Each kiosk serves as a free Wi-Fi hotspot up to 75’ and is geo-located, displaying informational listings based on what’s in the immediate proximity to the kiosk. The kiosks have dual-sided digital touchscreens and are fully ADA-compliant, complete with an engaging suite of interactive applications that drive discovery of area businesses and other local points of interest, promote diverse mobility solutions, and improve equity with 24/7 access to resources. IKE is multilingual and includes detailed content listings of local area restaurants, shops, businesses, cultural institutions, events, jobs, and civic resources. Additionally, the kiosks provide access to social services information such as homeless shelters, addiction recovery programs, and food support.
"The City of Houston has so much to offer, and the IKE digital kiosks will be an exciting new amenity to help guide people in various directions to enjoy events, restaurants, and much more," said Mayor Turner. "These kiosks are one of the many ways Houston is moving forward with creating more walkable spaces that make for a safer and more pleasant experience."
IKE’s advanced wayfinding features are designed to turn information into action. Using real-time, aggregated public transit data, IKE provides users access to easy-to-use multimodal trip-planning features to navigate from point A to point B via public transit, bike share, scooters, ride-hailing, and walking. Such capabilities reinforce the City’s commitment to sustainable, equitable, and accessible transportation services and resources.
IKE also serves as a widespread communication platform. IKE allots space for community messaging that is relevant to the City and local communities while also disseminating critical public safety information in a highly visible way. Through a real-time feed from the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), the kiosks immediately display emergency messaging such as severe weather warnings, AMBER Alerts, active shooter events, fire warnings, and other information provided by over 1,000 authorities certified by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
IKE Smart City shares the City’s commitment to placemaking and beautification to transform the pedestrian experience. IKE kiosk designs balance a clean and appealing aesthetic with an inviting and engaging user experience. The kiosks will provide a cohesive wayfinding system throughout the City while reflecting the City’s diversity with unique branding and on-screen content for each neighborhood.
“We are excited to partner with the City of Houston, one of the largest and most diverse cities in the country. IKE will further activate the pedestrian experience providing widespread connectivity and equal access to information to all communities,” said Pete Scantland, CEO of IKE Smart City. “We look forward to serving Houston’s residents and visitors through IKE.”
IKE Smart City is proud to support the production and presentation of public art through IKE’s ongoing programming mix. The kiosks will regularly exhibit new projects by local and international artists in collaboration with some of Houston’s most recognized cultural organizations. Allison Glenn, critically acclaimed curator recognized for her powerful work in merging art and public spaces, is leading a launch project that features the commissioned works of Houston-based artists Bria Lauren and Karen Navarro.
Selections from Bria Lauren’s ongoing body of work celebrate women of the South Side, Houston, to center and amplify their voices and the voices of Black women across generations who have been impacted by structural inequity, generational narratives, and respectability politics. The works by Karen Navarro are part of two different ongoing series, “América Utópica,” a demographic portrait of America based on 2043 census prediction, and “The Constructed Self,” a collection of unconventional portraits, united by themes of identity, diversity, and the complexities of representation for historically marginalized identities.
IKE has also partnered with Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH) to promote their exhibitions and feature art from their permanent collection and exhibition program. Other exciting partnerships are in development, including a collaboration with the University of Houston’s student-run publication, Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts.
The kiosk project was led by the Mayor’s Office of Economic Development with support from the Office of Innovation.
ABOUT IKE SMART CITY
IKE Smart City pioneers smart city technology to improve lives in cities. The company aims to develop and operate the premier interactive kiosk platform with the goal of building a wayfinding and city communication system for the digital age and delivering it in a self-sustaining business model at no cost to city partners. IKE kiosks help cities, business improvement districts, and destination marketing organizations connect with the public, encourage a pedestrian-oriented environment, and tell the story of their city. IKE is currently live in 11 other cities: Berkeley, CA; Tampa, FL; Miami, FL; Coral Gables, FL; Denver, CO; Tempe, AZ; Cleveland, OH; St. Louis, MO; Baltimore, MD; San Antonio, TX; and Columbus, OH. For more information, visit ikesmartcity.com.
ABOUT CITY OF HOUSTON
Home to 2.3 million people, Houston is the fourth largest and most diverse city in the United States.
The Economic Development Office works to promote City initiatives and economic tools to business owners interested in relocating or expanding their companies in the City of Houston. The Mayor’s Office of Innovation leads the City’s efforts to provide insight to the public and City leaders, improving the way government operates and innovates so that Houston continues to grow as a world-class city. The City of Houston is using data and emerging tech to improve the quality of life for citizens, share information with the public, drive economic growth, and build a more inclusive society.
ABOUT CURATOR ALLISON M. GLENN
Allison Glenn is a curator and writer deeply invested in working closely with artists to develop ideas, artworks, and exhibitions that respond to and transform our understanding of the world. Glenn’s curatorial work focuses on the intersection of art and publics, through public art, biennials, special projects, and major new commissions by leading contemporary artists. For more information, visit http://www.allisonglenn.com/.
ABOUT ARTIST KAREN NAVARRO
With The Constructed Self (2019-2022) and Shine America 2043 (2021-ongoing), Karen Navarro explores themes of identity and self-representation as they relate to her contemporary experience of immigration and identity within the United States. Full statements about the works can be found at https://www.karennavarroph.com/america-utopica and https://www.karennavarroph.com/the-constructed-self.