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Is It Time To Commit To Ongoing Payphone Availability? 267

Posted by samzenpus
from the who-you-gonna-call? dept.
jenningsthecat writes "Public payphones seem headed the way of the dinosaur, as noted here on Slashdot 10 years ago, and again by the CBC earlier this year. Reasons typically cited for their demise are falling usage, (thanks to the ubiquitous cell phone), and rising maintenance costs. But during the recent disaster in NYC caused by Hurricane Sandy public payphones proved their worth, allowing people to stay in contact in spite of the widespread loss of both cellular service and the electricity required to charge mobile devices. In light of this news, at least one Canadian news outlet is questioning the wisdom of scrapping payphones. Should we in North America make sure that public pay phones will always be widely available? (After all, it's not as though they don't have additional value-added uses). And, should their continued existence be dependent on corporations whose primary duty is to their shareholders, rather than to the average citizen?"
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Is It Time To Commit To Ongoing Payphone Availability?

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  • by Todd Knarr (15451) on Monday November 05, 2012 @01:43PM (#41883171) Homepage

    This is a common problem: emergency and safety systems are completely pointless 99% of the time... until you have an emergency, at which point they're indispensable. It's like the bail-out bag in the closet with the first-aid kit and other necessities for an emergency: for years you wonder why you keep it because you never use it, until that day you didn't see coming when the fire department knocks on the door saying the fire's jumped the line and you've got 15 minutes before it gets here (which has happened here twice since I moved here, so not a theoretical example). Myself, I'd keep pay phones around as one of those necessary emergency expenses, the kind of thing you know you've needed in the past and will need in the future but that you won't have time to get deployed if you wait until you do need it.

  • by hawguy (1600213) on Monday November 05, 2012 @01:59PM (#41883511)

    This is a common problem: emergency and safety systems are completely pointless 99% of the time... until you have an emergency, at which point they're indispensable.

    San Francisco still has thousands hardwired call boxes for the fire department on every other street corner, it's a fall back in case an earthquake takes out other forms of communication.

    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Why-S-F-still-counts-on-street-fire-alarm-boxes-3081293.php [sfgate.com]

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