Downtown San Diego plans to install up to 75 digital advertising kiosks

Up to 75 digital, interactive kiosks will come to downtown San Diego, but some locals have concerns.

Rendering of a kiosk in downtown San Diego

San Diego has signed up for new kiosks.

Photo via @CityofSanDiego

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Consider this a sign of the times, San Diego City Council has voted to install 50-75 interactive advertising kiosks in downtown San Diego. The digital additions will be designed to offer new features to the community, but they’ve also raised some concerns among locals.

What are we getting?

It can be difficult to get around downtown — especially if you’re not a local. The new, 15-sqft, dual-sided, touchscreen kiosks will aim to serve as wayfinding tools and connect people to nearby resources. Developer says they’ll be more localized than search engines and provide:

  • Information about nearby destinations and restaurants
  • Public transportation info
  • A WiFi hot spot with a ~75-ft radius
  • Connection to the Get It Done app
  • An emergency call button
  • Services and shelter information for unhoused people

This technology will be designed by IKE Smart City, a company that has already installed kiosks in major cities like Atlanta, Miami, and San Antonio.

The devices are expected to be installed over the next three years, and could start arriving in six to nine months.

What’s the concern?

City officials announced the kiosks would be installed at no cost to the city. In fact, the project is expected to bring in up to $15 million in revenue for the City of San Diego and another $7 million for the Downtown San Diego Partnership over 10 years.

This money will mostly be generated by digital ads and commissioned art pieces that will be displayed when people are not using the kiosks. Critics believe these digital signs — which will come with amendments to the sign ordinance — could become an eyesore and lead to further changes to downtown San Diego’s appearance for the sake of adding more advertisements.

The Downtown San Diego Partnership will work with residents to find the best locations for kiosks before installation.

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