The city of New York is really serious about rethinking our payphones. Not only are some phones being replaced with fancy touch screens, but yesterday the City announced a new competition to help Reinvent the Payphone. Hopefully this will turn out better than the Taxi of Tomorrow competition did—the fact that it is open to the public gives us hope!

Basically the city has realized that not only does it have 11,412 public payphones (check out the map of them all below!) but the current agreements with vendors to run them expires in 2014. Which means 2013 is the perfect time to figure out if there is a way to make them a bit more useful in the age of cellphones. While hopefully still keeping the phone part—because the phone part totally became quite useful after Hurricane Sandy! And that is where you come in.

New York City "is inviting students, urban planners, designers, technologists, architects, creators and legal and policy experts to build physical and/or virtual prototypes that imagine a new public utility through payphone infrastructure." If you've got an idea well, the first open information session on January 23 and submissions are due by February 18.

"New York City is the most innovative city on earth—and constantly reinventing itself," NYC's Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot said. "With the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge, we’re enlisting the thriving technology and academic communities to help shape the future of communications in New York City. This challenge is the first of its kind in the world, and provides a unique opportunity to set the bar for forward-thinking communications infrastructure."

Finally, a chance to pitch of adding cupcake vending machines to city payphones! Because if that doesn't kill the cupcake trend...