If there was ever any doubt that your city should hire a Chief Digital Officer, today’s talk by Rachel Haot, who holds that role in New York City, at The Next Web Conference USA would have erased it. In an inspiring opening session at our first American conference, she discussed all the ways that NYC’s mayor and his team have embraced technology in recent years.
NYC really is a model for a modern, tech-literate city. It’s got connectivity covered (a program to roll out WiFi in public parks, payphone kiosks and subway stations around the city); a real drive on education (the new Cornell Tech campus, and 22 high schools teaching computer science, for example), and world-class open government (city-run APIs and hackathons).
Beyond that, it’s got digital engagement licked. According to Haot, the City reaches 7.5 million individuals digitally each month through its website, plus ten smartphone apps, three SMS programs, 315 social media channels and more. That social media activity really came in use during Hurricane Sandy, where 200,000 new subscribers came to NYC’s channels to catch 2,000 updates from the City on the extreme weather conditions.
Business-wise, the city is now number two in the US behind Silicon Valley for VC funding, and tech acquisitions totalled $83 billion last year. The Tumblr and Makerbot deals should help make this year a strong one, too.
In short, New York is an exciting place for tech right now, and the mayor’s office is helping to drive that. It’s unsurprising that cities around the world have taken inspiration from NYC for their own digital initiatives.
If you’d like to explore what New York has to offer, Haot gave a shot out to initiatives like MappedinNY.com and WeAreMadeInNY.com. Don’t forget our 50 New York City startups you need to know about, 50 people in NYC’s tech scene that you need to know and The top 20 tech hangouts in New York City, too.