Tuesday, July 26, 2016

What's The Info On PlattInfo?

Way back in the day when the info kiosks worked.

(C) 2015 Luke T. Bush


The poster hung on the large bulletin board, protected by a plexiglass shield.   Brief description of the poster: annoying.

Matt Hall walked by the bulletin board while going to work, day after day, until he decided it was time to say something about the poster.

None of the few words on the poster were offensive, obscene or discriminatory.  The simple words were superimposed over a painting featuring Plattsburgh City landmarks, City Hall and the towering obelisk with the bronze eagle on top.

The poster proclaimed: PlattInfo. Sights.  Shopping.  Dining.  plattinfo.com

Near the bulletin board stood a metal kiosk, recently repainted to cover up the rust.  It's electronic touchscreen remained black.  At one time -- probably two years ago -- the screen brightly glowed, displaying all sorts of info about downtown.

Matt knew the story behind the poster, the info kiosks, the PlattInfo website.  More than I had realized when I was just covering the kiosk aspect.

November 22, 2012.  An article appeared in the city (news)paper announcing the PlattInfo project. Three touchscreen kiosks would be installed.  It sounded like it was about ready to go, including a website providing info on restaurants and other attractions in the city.  Business subscriptions were $52 a year, an amount even a small business could afford -- or so it was claimed.

In an email interview Matt explained: "As coordinator at ROTA Gallery I was approached by the PlattInfo folks to buy into a subscription at $52 a year. I told them that I wasn't comfortable approving the expense and wanted to wait and see how the kiosks did over time before putting money into the project."

It's a good thing he waited.  The info kiosks have been dead for the last two years.  And plattsinfo.com?  Outside of a basic introduction nothing has been added despite the site's statement: Stay tuned for news.  Matt verified the inactivity with the online resource the Wayback Machine.

Don't believe everything you read.

Matt went online to raise the issue, reaching out with Facebook posts.  He wanted the poster taken down. Many comments have resulted, some critical about the waste of taxpayer money.

Seeing the posts a city councilor looked into the matter and contacted Matt.  The councilor had learned the kiosks were installed before mobile phone apps became popular.  Also due to the terms of the grant the info kiosks had to remain in place until 2017.  The councilor had heard the city IT department was aware of the problem and the city was planning to repurpose the kiosks for a more practical use.  (Stay tuned for news!)

Previously Matt attempted to find out what had happened with the PlattInfo program.  He contacted one source aware of the situation who told him there was a "sordid" story about the project.  Then the source went silent, no more correspondence.

Matt wants the PlattInfo poster taken down because it's just an awful reminder of the project's failure and waste.  The poster's contact info is useless.

Matt: " If any visitors or interested parties actually looked up #plattinfo or any of the links listed on it, they would just find dead websites. Why would we keep that up there? At best its irrelevant, and at worst it makes us look foolish."

Or makes us, as I say, Plattsburgh Smart.

Hey, Binky, ya need a domain name? 

1 comment:

David said...

Someone should demand an accounting of the destination of the grant money that paid for the kiosks in question and the provision that they remain in place until 2017. My bet is the responsible party, administrator, whomever has taken their pay (and any other available funds) and left town or moved on to other concerns. This is the sort of blatant disregard one would expect to see in Nigeria, not the North Country. If true, this info should be turned over to the grantor (i.e. the State of NY or the Fed), whereupon any cash should be returned and the administrator prosecuted for fraud.