Public Utility Challenge

Public Utility Challenge - Innovate PayPhones

Public Utility Challenge - Innovate PayPhones

Public Utility Challenge - InnovatePhones; Reinvent - Innovate - Design

Challenge Overview

Celebrating an opportunity for entrepreneurship and invention; Public Utility Challenge is launching the Innovate PayPhones challenge to reinvent the traditional street payphone. Making cities more accessible, healthier, and safer while enhancing user experience for residents and visitors alike.


What is the Problem?
Once imperative street furnishings of cities around the world, the payphone has gone from a necessary public utility to a languishing archaic public feature, whose purpose, utility and value has been called into question over the past several decades.

But Did You Know?
The archaic payphone has been the primary means of communication in times of severe crisis and emergency (such as Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina) providing invaluable utility to all that need it. They are a public good, providing unlimited communication to people regardless of income and background, while serving as a key asset to a cities and their visitors in the forms of advertising, information and connectivity. This got us thinking.

The Solution is Simple…
With the payphones vital emergency communication utility, coupled with their occupation of valuable real-estate in high pedestrian concentrations such as parks, airports, and relevant residential and commercial areas; we believe there is life in the payphone yet. In order to become relevant again the payphone needs to reinvent its traditional telephonic functions by interacting with its residents, visitors and businesses while making cities more accessible, healthier, and safer.

We Want You!
We are looking for innovative minds. Students, design, technology, and architecture professionals, along with anyone who is interested to develop an effective solution to the Innovate PayPhones challenge. We are looking to leverage smart city technologies, and a rich and dynamic urban environment, with an attractive and effective design. The end goal being to implement your Innovative PayPhones on committed city streets around the world. Together we will embellish the payphone as a commodity of the future, not the past.


Updates 11

Challenge Updates

The Innovate PayPhones Challenge is Closed

Jan. 23, 2017, 9:20 a.m. PST by Liz Treadwell

Greetings innovators,
Thank you so much for the interest that you showed for the Innovate PayPhones Challenge. After evaluating the entries, the Public Utility team has decided to put the competition on hold indefinitely. If they decide to move forward with awarding a winner, another Update will be posted to this page with additional instructions. 

In the meantime, please check out the other challenges that you can participate in on the HeroX Explore page!


The HeroX team

4 Hours Until Deadline!

Oct. 12, 2016, 7:55 a.m. PDT by Public Utility

Hello Innovators,

There is only 4 hours left to submit your design. So get wrapping up videos, touch up your drawings and proof read your writing.

We are thrilled with the amount of interest we have received and we can't wait to see your final designs.

Good luck and thank you for participation!

- Public Utility Challenge Team



Oct. 5, 2016, 3:11 p.m. PDT by Public Utility

One week to go befre final submission are due.

Start getting your final designs and tweeks into us ASAP. Make sure all submissions correspond to our guidlines shown on our guidelines page.

We've had some great entries so far and look forward to seeing more.

Good Luck Innovators!

- Public Utility Challenge Team

The Innovate Phones Challenge Re-Opens For One More Month

Sept. 22, 2016, 2:03 p.m. PDT by Public Utility

Hey Innovators,

By popular demand we have decided to re-open the challenge for 1 more month.

Do not fear existing entrants your submission still stands, if you want to amend your submission please feel free to do so. Make sure to have it re-submitted by the deadline though!

Be sure to check out our guidelines page so your design ticks all the necessary criteria. 

Good luck to all entrants, we can't wait to see the final designs.


Public Utility Challenge Team

Less than 24 hours until the deadline!

July 6, 2016, 3:19 p.m. PDT by Liz Treadwell

Greetings Innovators!

We are less than 24 hours away from our submission deadline for the Public Utility Challenge - Innovate PayPhones.

This message is to remind you to complete and finalize your submission before the deadline which is at 2pm PST/5pm EST on Thursday, July 7th. The HeroX platform is automated so your submission must be finalized before the deadline for it to be considered for the Judging stage.

View a How-To video on completing your submission here:

If you have any questions regarding the challenge, please don’t hesitate to ask us directly or leave a comment on our challenge page Forum section (linked above).

If you encounter any technical issues with the HeroX platform, please contact HeroX tech support at

Thank you for registering in the Innovate PayPhones Challenge. We look forward to receiving your submission and learning more about the breakthrough you want to create!

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