Mayor de Blasio at Cornell Tech (photograph: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor’s Workplace)
A report launched Wednesday supplies technological options for among the metropolis’s myriad issues and examines the obstacles to their adoption, with the hope of scary intense debate about city expertise on this yr’s municipal election.
The 124-page report, titled “Rebooting NYC: An City Tech Agenda for the Subsequent Administration,” is a primary draft launched by Cornell Tech’s City Tech Hub, a part of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute positioned on Roosevelt Island. It supplies the beginnings of a roadmap for using present expertise to enhance town’s provision of providers, optimizing the constructed setting, and increasing New Yorkers’ engagement in civic life, amongst different objectives. The report was created after interviews with greater than 100 expertise and civic specialists from New York and all over the world, based on its publishers.
Among the many suggestions are approving new information privateness laws, making a Deputy Mayor for Expertise, establishing an unbiased Rising Expertise Advisory Panel, and a Broadband Growth Company, amongst a number of others.
This yr’s New York Metropolis election is likely one of the most consequential in a long time, as town makes an attempt to finish and recuperate from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has value tens of 1000’s of lives and a whole lot of 1000’s of jobs whereas exposing and exacerbating long-standing issues. The following mayor, class of Metropolis Council members, and different elected officers will likely be tasked with main town’s restoration from the pandemic, making certain equitable outcomes the place there have been disproportionately unequal impacts. The Tech Hub’s report goals to assist these options, whereas additionally addressing among the extra anodyne capabilities of metropolis authorities that may be improved with expertise.
“This could actually start to tell a dialog across the position of expertise within the metropolis,” mentioned Michael Samuelian, director of the City Tech Hub and previously President and CEO of the Belief for Governors Island, amongst different roles out and in of presidency, in a telephone interview. “I believe there’s quite a lot of speak about tech and tech-enabled restoration however not quite a lot of particulars. So I believe this supplies the main points…We’re doing the analysis, we’re doing the homework, we’re sort of doing the laborious work in terms of what are the applied sciences which are out there for the subsequent administration to essentially take up.”
The report has 5 most important areas of focus: defending privateness; making certain equal participation within the digital economic system; enhancing the administration of city techniques; easing entry to authorities providers; and anticipating the impact and implementation of future expertise. It’s, under no circumstances, exhaustive and leaves open broad areas for dialogue and suggestions. “We did not attempt to assault each drawback. Tech isn’t the answer for the whole lot,” mentioned Samuelian.
However he famous that the subsequent steps within the effort will increase the scope of the report. The Tech Hub has reached out to mayoral candidates to transient them on the report’s findings and can spend the subsequent few months soliciting responses from civic tech teams, nonprofits, group organizations, and extra earlier than issuing a closing report by the top of the summer season.
The report emphasizes that privateness and participation are the “needed foundations” for the mass use of city expertise instruments. It proposes a brand new regulation to control how metropolis businesses (significantly the NYPD) acquire and share information, and transparency and oversight measures for each the private and non-private sectors. It additionally addresses expertise procurement by town, proposing to consolidate technology-focused efforts beneath a brand new deputy mayor and a digital providers group.
One of many extra evident points that was delivered to mild by the pandemic is the digital divide throughout town, with about 18% of New Yorkers missing entry to both a house or cellular web connection. The Hub’s report proposes that the mayor and Metropolis Council set up a brand new Broadband Growth Company to supervise the constructing of a citywide open-access fiber community. It additionally notes the necessity to deal with points with digital funds for these with out checking account entry and fixing difficulties in package deal deliveries.
Among the many extra speedy options proposed by the Hub are measures to enhance how New Yorkers expertise the constructed setting round them, significantly metropolis streets and sidewalks. The report proposed technological cures to site visitors enforcement and administration, increasing bike lanes to create wider New Mobility Lanes to accommodate new types of mobility similar to e-scooters, modernizing the design and building trade, and testing using drones for constructing inspections to scale back the variety of sidewalk sheds, often known as scaffolding.
One of many chief objectives of the report is to make sure that New Yorkers have simpler entry to metropolis providers and may take part in native decision-making. It proposes creating safe “private information lockers” that might retailer details about eligibility for metropolis advantages, serving to town to streamline purposes throughout businesses and permitting individuals to trace their advantages — much like what some mayoral candidates have been proposing. The report encourages the mayor and Metropolis Council to advocate for persevering with digital group board conferences (which might require a change in state regulation) and to offer group boards with technological help similar to standardized webcasting kits, computerized transcription, captioning and translation providers.
The report doesn’t simply look at present issues, additionally it is ahead wanting. It urges the mayor to nominate an exterior physique to develop laws for rising applied sciences and calls on the Metropolis Council to institute a everlasting, unbiased Rising Expertise Advisory Panel that might situation reviews each two years on these applied sciences and their potential impacts on town.
Among the many specialists consulted had been Anusha Venkataram, town’s Chief Service Officer; Division of Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca; Albert Fox Cahn, founder and govt director of the Surveillance Expertise Oversight Undertaking; former metropolis planning chief Carl Weisbrod; Elizabeth Goldstein, president of the Municipal Arts Society; Noel Hidalgo, cofounder of BetaNYC; Paul Steely White, a former transit advocate and now director of security coverage and advocacy for Chicken scooters.