By Mayo Nissen, Director of Design Lab & Katherine Benjamin, Deputy CTO for Digital Services

TL;DR — If you are a jurisdiction interested in distributing thousands of free internet-enabled devices to people who may not have tech expertise, here are the components, considerations and logistics of the end-to-end onboarding experience, as developed and launched by the City of New York in the context of COVID-19.

In May 2020, Mayor de Blasio announced that 10,000 internet-enabled tablets had been delivered to older adults living in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) developments. Since then, the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer has received a range of questions from other cities interested in learning more about our approach. While every context is different, we wanted to share a number of aspects we considered in our work, which may be helpful as jumping-off points for organizations or municipalities looking to address the digital divide using a similar…

By Eliana Sherwood, Communications Fellow

“Cities are only smart when they listen to their residents.” - Oscar Romero, Program Director @ 2019 Smart Cities NY IDC Awards Ceremony

In New York City we are committed to becoming a strong, fair city through bold actions to develop an inclusive economy and thriving neighborhoods. At the NYC Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO) we believe that such a goal can only be achieved by working with local communities to design a smart cities agenda that reflects the priorities, local needs, and diversity of all New Yorkers.

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Building Community Power Workshop in Inwood and Washington Heights, 2019

In 2015, in response to the Obama administration’s “Smart Cities Initiative”, MOCTO and The New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) launched NYC[x] Co-Labs, formerly known as Neighborhood Innovation Labs. The purpose of NYC[x] Co-Labs is to create community-driven agendas on pressing urban challenges. We do this by leveraging the resources of the NYC tech ecosystem to serve local communities and implementing innovative solutions to address community concerns, particularly among low-income and diverse neighborhoods. …

November 4, 2020

by Katherine Benjamin, Deputy CTO for Digital Services

Tl;dr summary: Urgent digital requests require exceptional intake and scoping. Expediting the scoping process means tackling awkward conversations head-on. Leverage the precedent and resources used by leading digital government jurisdictions to rapidly scale your process.

Following the completion of our first cohort of NYC[x] Innovation Fellows, one question we get asked often is how teams can scope and oversee rapid product development. This post outlines 3 steps to help user-centered and agile teams respond to time-sensitive product requests.

  1. Orient yourself to your partner’s environment

Start by assessing digital maturity. Of course, a time of urgency may not be the right time to talk to partners about their comprehensive five-year digital strategy (or lack thereof). The viability of a given product request can be quickly ascertained by understanding if the team in question has a clear vision on how to incorporate that product into their overall digital strategy. …

By Ludovica Martella, September 15, 2020

“Tech often requires an examination of how it can be implemented without being intrusive to the community and without gentrifying it. You want to pertain all the qualities the community has while empowering them through innovation” — Henry Lam, Developer at Anyways Here’s the Thing, one of the two winners of NYCx Co-Lab Challenge

At the NYC Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO) we believe that Smart City initiatives are only smart when they are based on the needs of their residents. Often though, these initiatives can be perceived as top-down and tech-centric. …

In March 2020, the novel coronavirus took hold of the world and changed life as we knew it. The change was sudden. In a New York minute, we were confined to our homes and living remotely — working, learning, shopping, and connecting with loved ones through a screen.

For those of us with internet service and a computer or smartphone, this change, while abrupt, was doable. However, the 1.5 million New Yorkers who lack access to broadband at home were left in the void. They were disconnected at a time when the internet would become more critical than ever before.

Earlier this year, Mayor de Blasio released the New York City Internet Master Plan, a comprehensive road map to closing the digital divide through enhanced infrastructure, affordability, and inclusion. The Master Plan recognizes that the internet may be as essential to New York City in the 21st century as electricity was in the 20th century. Broadband internet is a gateway to essential services such as education, food delivery, and healthcare, which is why we simply cannot tolerate digital redlining. In the Internet Age, advancing people’s digital rights must be a priority. …

This year, the Wi-Fi Alliance is celebrating 20 years of Wi-Fi. The industry association projects that the total number of Wi-Fi devices installed will surpass 13 billion this year.

For almost as long as there has been Wi-Fi, New Yorkers have been using it to connect to the internet in parks, libraries and city streets. For a long time, it was an amenity — a way to encourage people to sit and enjoy a public space. …

Midway through our NYCx Cybersecurity Moonshot Challenge, 169 global organizations have expressed interest in helping us deliver digital security for small to midsize businesses.

Our NYCx Moonshot Program invites global problem-solvers to partner with the City to develop and test novel solutions to pressing real-life challenges. In searching for our latest Moonshot Challenge, we came across an unlikely and yet highly relevant topic area: cybersecurity.

Cybersecurity has been top-of-mind in New York City for some time. Since 2017, the City of New York has positioned itself as a global leader in cybersecurity jobs and innovation. New York City Cyber Command (C3), via Mayoral Executive Order, was formed as the City’s cybersecurity center of gravity, launching NYC Secure in October 2018, a first-of-its-kind free consumer app to help New Yorkers secure their personal devices and WiFi networks. At the same time, New York City’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) announced the winners of its Cyber NYC initiative to drive substantial cyber startup growth, train residents for cyber careers, and deepen commercialization partnerships between academic institutions and cyber companies. …

2018 was a year of unprecedented growth for our office. Our team delivered on many initiatives that our City can be proud of and that the people that live here can benefit from for years to come. In my time as interim Chief Technology Officer, I am proud to look back on the work the team accomplished and wanted to share the highlights of our last twelve months, including NYCx Moonshot Challenges, Truth in Broadband reporting, privacy legislation, and new global coalitions, as well as touch on what’s ahead for 2019!

2019 will be a big year! I look forward to sharing some exciting updates in the coming weeks and partnering with you to make NYC the fairest and tech-equitable big city in America!

After receiving more than 50 respondents to our Request for Information on Citywide Broadband, the City of New York is looking to partner with the private sector to connect underserved residents and small businesses with broadband.

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Photo by Thomas Kvistholt on Unsplash

Last November, our office released the NYC Connected Request for Information on Citywide Broadband (RFI) as part of our office’s implementation of the City’s commitment to bring affordable, high-speed internet options to all New Yorkers by 2025. The purpose of the RFI was to gather insights from industry experts and stakeholders on how to approach this commitment. …

Introducing our NYCx Moonshot Launchpad, a tool to help you achieve the impossible.

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Our work within the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO) has shown us this time and time again: we recognize the need to plan for the introduction of future technologies because they’ll audition in New York City (NYC) faster than anywhere else. In some cases, we’ve seen that without active public participation (or co-development) in how those technologies are launched — in our smartphones, our businesses, and our streets — they may not be built fairly or for everyone.

On the other hand, we also know that to truly tackle the major challenges of our time — rising housing costs, climate change, disparate health outcomes — we need to consider emerging technologies that make sense for all New Yorkers. This is why we launched NYCx, a program focused on inviting the leading thinkers and technologists in the world to help NYC plan for and use emerging technologies for public good. As Mayor Bill de Blasio envisioned at the launch of NYCx, this level of engagement is crucial to “ensure that new technologies are making New York the fairest city in the world.” …


NYC Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer

We are using technology to make New York City future ready.

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