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Digital kiosks on Dallas sidewalks – smart technology or just plain intrusive?

City of Dallas proposes digital kiosks
City of Dallas proposes digital kiosks 02:34

DALLAS — Digital kiosks have been popping up across the country – in Denver, Atlanta, Miami and Houston.

The city of Dallas is considering a plan to install them across downtown, with proponents saying the signs can provide free public wifi to an area, broadcast emergency alerts in real-time, and help direct visitors to the city's attractions and restaurants.

But business groups like Downtown Dallas, Inc. are against the idea. 

"A lot of [sidewalks] simply do not have room for another piece of furniture, essentially, a permanently fixed object that impedes pedestrian connectivity," said Jennifer Scripps, the CEO of Downtown Dallas, Inc.

Scripps says the signs will become obsolete over time, attract graffiti, and offer little use to anyone already carrying a cell phone.

"We believe the main purpose is advertising," she said.

The kiosks are marketed as money-makers for cities with revenue split between the city and the private company managing them.

City council member Adam Bazaldua, who supports the idea, spoke with CBS News Texas before a public hearing on the plan Monday evening. 

"When I hear from taxpayers, they want more. What they don't want more of is taxing. We need to be creative as lawmakers in figuring out alternative revenue sources. That's going to give us the ability to deliver for our residents," Bazaldua said.

How much the city would make is unclear; When asked by council members, the city's public works director couldn't provide an estimate on revenue.

Some critics also worry the kiosks will be similar to circular advertising kiosks Dallas has had for almost two decades.

"Well, this right there is not only a monstrosity, it's obnoxious, it's outdated…" agreed Bazaldua, pointing to one of the old kiosks across from Dallas City Hall.

The digital and interactive kiosks, he says, would be a major improvement and far less intrusive. 

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