Gotham Gazette

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Civic Tech

Civic Tech

  • An Early Test of The Adams Administration’s Values and Tech Prowess

    Participatory government in-person (photo: New York City Council)


    In 2019, New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly in favor of establishing a Civic Engagement Commission that would modernize how the city and its residents worked together to identify and solve problems at the most local levels. That commission hasn’t been earning itself many headlines, but the participation platform it set up atparticipate.nyc.gov...

  • Who is NYC Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser and Will He Deliver What’s Desperately Needed?

    Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

    NYC CTO Matthew Fraser with Mayor Adams (photo: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office)


    The de Blasio administration acknowledged that New York City desperately needs a Digital Service Organization (DSO) when it announced less than a month before the mayor left office that it wants to hire people for a new “NYC Digital Services” unit that would apply best practices in modern, open-source software development to New York City’s many

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  • De Blasio Administration Announces Long-Sought ‘NYC Digital Service’ Just Days Before Adams Takes Over

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    NYC Department of Information Information Technology and Telecommunications Github profile


    New York City’s civic technology community has for many years been calling on city government to establish a Digital Service Organization (DSO). DSOs are technology groups organized within government agenies that use open source software to create their own technology solutions instead of buying proprietary services from

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  • Eric Adams Vows to Overhaul How City Government Works; Experts Point to Several Essentials to Following Through

    Gotham Gazette Eric Adams Says He Will Overhaul How City Government Works; Here's What Experts Think of His Promises

    Eric Adams (photo: Erica Sherman/Brooklyn BP's Office)


    Eric Adams believes government inefficiency is at the root of many ills that plague New Yorkers. The ineffective delivery of public services and waste of taxpayer dollars, he says, create the very inequality and suffering that city government is meant to ameliorate.

    For years leading up to and throughout his run for mayor this year, Adams -- the two-term Brooklyn borough president and

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  • Experts Release Agenda for Next Mayor to Better Use Technology in Solving City Problems

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    Mayor de Blasio at Cornell Tech (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayor's Office)


    A report released Wednesday provides technological solutions for some of the city’s myriad problems and examines the barriers to their adoption, with the hope of provoking intense debate about urban technology in this year’s municipal election. 

    The 124-page report, titled “Rebooting NYC: An Urban Tech Agenda for the Next Administration,” is a first draft released by Cornell Tech’s

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  • Project to Map How Next New York Leaders Can Leverage Technology to Address City's Problems

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    Cornell Tech (photo: Edwin J. Torres/Mayoral Photography Office)


    With New York City’s political landscape on the verge of drastic change, urban technology experts at Cornell Tech, the graduate school based on Roosevelt Island, are looking to make sure that the new class of city officials elected this year will embrace technology-based solutions to the city’s longstanding challenges.

    Cornell Tech’s Urban Tech Hub, which is part of the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute and conducts applied research, helps create startups, and

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  • De Blasio Administration Pledges to Finally Address City's Persistent 'Digital Divide' with Universal Internet Access

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    Mayor de Blasio at a LinkNYC kiosk (photo: Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    As the pandemic forced New Yorkers to shelter at home, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration launched several efforts to assist those who lacked the necessary access to the internet to adapt to working and learning virtually. But there remains a deep digital divide across the city, particularly in terms of lack of access in low-income communities of color, creating significant challenges for students, residents of homeless shelters and public housing, and others.

    According to city data, 40%

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  • SimCity Showed Us Brilliant Civic Tech Interfaces 30 Years Ago. We Should Build Them for Real Now

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    (SimCity image via nycj blogspot)


    I was eight years old when I first encountered a computer game called SimCity. The general premise of the game was that you were the mayor of a virtual city, and you would use game money to create a place for communities of “Sims” to live.

    First you set up basic infrastructure like roads, pipes, and zoning and soon

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  • How One New Yorker's App Pushed 311 to Modernize Traffic Violation Reporting (to an Extent)

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    (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office)


    When Jeff Novich wanted to report a honking taxi outside his apartment in 2014, he did what most New Yorkers do when making noise complaints. He filed an online report with 311.

    It was the start of an ongoing relationship with the now 16-year-old city service, which in 2018 handled over 20,000 daily phone calls and 3 million individual reports equaling more than 44 million interactions in total. The service’s 400-plus employees handle everything from noise complaints to dispensing daily

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  • As Acting Public Advocate, Johnson Eyes Information Commission Revived by James But Killed by De Blasio

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    Corey Johnson, Laurie Cumbo, Tish James (photo: Emil Cohen/City Council)


    A charter-mandated city commission meant to help New Yorkers access information about their government sputtered to a stop in 2016 owing to a lack of funding, barely three years after being revived by former Public Advocate Letitia James. Now, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who is also acting public advocate for the next several weeks, is taking up James’ unfinished business and attempting to raise the commission from its grave.

    The Commission on

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  • Moving Toward a Metro-Regional Approach to Planning and Advocacy

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    (photo via NYC Planning)


    New York City and its neighbors have a problem. Unlike Los Angeles, Chicago, and the other major U.S. metropolitan areas that fit neatly within the standard city, county, and state political boundaries, our metropolitan area of over 22 million people does not. We’re spread out over four states and 26 counties, five of which are called “boroughs” and were integrated together to create our city over 100 years ago.

    All these complex boundaries and jurisdictions have resulted in a metropolitan area that has been “divided and

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  • New York City Shouldn’t Regulate Ride-Hailing Apps - It Should Compete With Them

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    (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    Smartphones are transforming transit in cities all over the world, and city governments are struggling to figure out how to best manage the change. If the world was looking to New York City’s recently enacted legislation affecting for-hire vehicle companies, then there will be disappointment given that, once again, the city’s political establishment decided to impose an outdated regulatory regime on innovative firms,

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  • City Planning Launches New Civic Tech Project

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    NYC Planning Labs, a new unit in the Department of City Planning introduced on Monday, is a next step in both civic technology and city planning. Planning Labs will use open platforms that will engage people outside of city government, but largely work to provide tools to others at City Planning, so they can find solutions to the city’s planning challenges as New York continues to grow and the de Blasio administration moves ahead with its affordable housing, community development, and other initiatives.

    The new effort intends to “bring civic data to life through

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  • Praise, and Recommendations, for City's Open Data Progress

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    Council Member Vacca (photo: @JamesVacca13)


    There are two years to go before the deadline set by the city’s 2012 Open Data Law, which requires city agencies identify and publish all their citywide aggregated public data online. At a Wednesday afternoon oversight hearing of the City Council’s Committee on Technology, open data and civic technology advocates offered praise for the city’s progress thus far and recommendations for the city to meet its goals.

    Open data is considered a vital transparency

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