Interactive digital kiosks are popping up around downtown Minneapolis to help people find somewhere nearby to eat or shop, travel to different areas of the city or metro, and stay up to date on events and activities.

Earlier this month, the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District installed five kiosks on Nicollet Mall, including one outside of the Minneapolis Central Library. DID plans to add 15 additional kiosks in other busy areas around downtown in the next year. 

The new IKE Smart City kiosks have dual-sided digital touchscreens and feature detailed listings of businesses, attractions, parks, hotels, and more. They’re similar to the wayfinding kiosks found at malls, except they also provide access to information on social services, such as food support, addiction recovery programs, and homeless shelters.

A downtown ambassador uses a kiosk to look for nearby restaurants. Photo courtesy of the Minneapolis Downtown Improvement District

The kiosks are multilingual – with Somali as a language option, but not Hmong – and ADA-compliant. Like a standard GPS does, the kiosks’ trip-planning feature helps people navigate by foot, bus, light-rail train, car, bike, and scooter.

Downtown Voices contributor Alex Schieferdecker was a bit skeptical of the kiosks at first but ultimately found them to be helpful and easy to use, as he used one as a test for the first time yesterday to get directions to the Mall of America via transit and to check the weather.

"While a lot of what they do can also be done by cellphones, I think they will be useful for people in all kinds of situations,” Schieferdecker said of the kiosks. “Plus, they add a little bit of color, variety, and opportunities for engagement on a street that doesn't have enough of that."

IKE Smart City kiosks are in almost 20 cities nationwide, including Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Phoenix, and St. Louis.

DID plans to hold a press conference with a live tutorial on the kiosks later this summer.