(C) 2017 Luke T.Bush
PLATTSBURGH CITY, NY - 01/25/17
The screen is black again. No more outdated ads from the past.
As I've discussed before the PlattInfo kiosk on City Hall Place came back to life last month with limited functionality. This outdoor kiosk -- one of three -- was part of a computerized system that was supposed to provide details on various Plattsburgh City businesses through its touchscreen. The entire system has spent most of its existence dead and useless.
The freelance software engineer who wrote the proprietary software for the system, Jesse Feiler, hasn't responded to my email requests. I've been trying to find out what went wrong after thousands of taxpayer dollars were poured into the chrome tombstones. Recently I did get a reply from Paul DeDominicas, Director of Community Development, regarding what was and was not going on with PlattInfo.
Months ago the kiosks got a new slap of paint to cover up the rust. When the City Hall Place kiosk came back to half-life it appeared an attempt was being made to reboot the system.
In his email reply Paul said the City Hall Place kiosk must have mysteriously reactivated itself without any prompting. It's reactivation wasn't part of any plan to repurpose the system.
He wrote: "At this time, there is not a push to update the system as it was installed. The system was purchased through a grant program which required the system be in place for a certain amount of time. The grant period expires in the fall of 2017. The functionality of the system needs to be examined and the conversation needs to focus around what can the system become now that smart phones/apps are so prevalent. One of the ideas in the Downtown Revitalization Initiative is to provide some public Wi-Fi spots downtown. The system could be repurposed to assist with that project. Though nothing has been determined at this time."
Maybe the ghost in the machine will haunt us once again before this fall, giving us some entertainment for the money spent, more glimpses into the far past. And if the kiosks become part of a new wi-fi system the city better hire a techno-exorcist.