There’s no blueprint for how to roll out the world’s largest free public wi-fi network—especially one with hundreds of web-beaming, touch-screen towers spread across five boroughs. So a little more than a year after LinkNYC installed its first kiosks around New York City, some questions are still hazy. How are they supposed to be used? Who are they really meant for?
Today LinkNYC’s purpose takes a slightly clearer shape, with the addition of Aunt Bertha, an existing app modeled as a Yelp for social safety-net services run by an Austin-based benefit corporation. LinkNYC kiosks are already equipped with access to 911 and 311, a portal to apply for government benefits, interactive maps, free phone-call capabilities, and a USB charger. Through a simple search from one of the kiosk tablets, New Yorkers can now tap into Aunt Bertha’s robust database of food pantries, emergency housing, childcare, healthcare, transportation assistance, and financial aid programs located within that zip code.