As we enter the new year, all of us at NYC Digital would like to take a moment to thank everyone who made 2011 such an exciting, meaningful and productive year for innovation in New York City government. Below is a look back at what we have been able to achieve together over the past 12 months; we thank you for being our partner in making it all possible.
2011 NYC Digital: A Look Back as We Forge Ahead
In July 2010, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Commissioner Katherine Oliver announced that the newly formed Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment would include NYC Digital, led by the City’s first Chief Digital Officer. Last January, NYC Digital launched and we hit the ground running with our mission to improve New Yorkers’ experiences of engaging digitally with New York City government by making every interaction simpler, faster and more meaningful.
We began by assessing the “state of the Digital City” --soliciting public input, interviewing City agencies and researching our digital assets. Altogether, we analyzed over 4,000 points of engagement from New Yorkers. In May, Mayor Bloomberg introduced the resulting Road Map for the Digital City, one of the first municipal plans of its kind, outlining New York City’s strategy to realize our digital potential. The report outlines plans to achieve the goal of making New York City the leading Digital City in the world. To realize this objective, we focus on the four core pillars of Access to Technology, Open Government, Engagement and Industry. We were honored that the report was positively received, and were flooded with offers to help from New Yorkers and startups alike.
In all four areas of the road map, we’ve made tremendous progress. In Access, the City of New York introduced Wi-Fi in more public spaces, including parks, across the five boroughs and supported more broadband choices citywide. In Open Government, it developed the NYC OpenData API platform. NYC OpenData supplies hundreds of sets of public data produced by City agencies and organizations. For non-technical folks, we’ve launched an Open Data tumblr to showcase datasets that New Yorkers find interesting and data visualizations to bring the numbers to life. We’ve launched an official New York City Apps hub highlighting the City’s nine original apps and dozens more from the developer community.
We hosted the City’s first-ever hackathon, Reinvent NYC.Gov, and are grateful to the over one hundred developers, designers, city officials and technology partners that participated to collaboratively image and build the future of NYC.Gov. And as a result of the promotion of our APIs and the relationships we developed with technologists, the City of New York has participated nearly every week in an independent hackathon since that point, led by tireless experts at the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.
Thanks to participation from New Yorkers and hard work from City employees, the City made powerful progress in civic engagement online. Over the past year, the City’s social media channels have grown to over 200 channels with more than 1.5 million followers across City government. Efforts ranged from emergency alerts on Facebook and the Department of Transportation’s Bikeshare crowdsourcing map to 311 responses on Twitter, and a Tumblr of healthy recipes from across the five boroughs.
In line with our metrics-based approach to digital media, NYC Digital implemented a custom bit.ly link shortener for nyc.gov links that help agencies evaluate which content is most valuable to constituents. We also launched a beta citywide @NYCGov twitter account that provides a snapshot of the most compelling information, initiatives and news from across all City agencies.
In addition, we have introduced SMART, the Social Media Advisory and Research Taskforce, which is a team of the City’s social media leaders. SMART meets every month to discuss social media policies, provide recommendations on social media tools and strategies, evaluates new social media platforms and act as a liaison with technology and legal authorities in the City. With our Engage NYC initiative, we’ve developed workshops, office hours, training sessions and a newsletter for digital communications staff across City government. We were thrilled that Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson kicked off the Engage NYC event with passionate words for the 200 employees in attendance.
We were also reminded of the crucial role that real-time information can serve in an emergency when Twitter, Facebook and live video streaming became core elements in the City strategy to keep the public safe and informed in the events around Hurricane Irene.
In addition, we’ve worked with a number of city agencies to help build new social media pages and discuss strategy on current platforms.
Thanks to New York City’s thriving tech community, the advances in Industry have been phenomenal. Mayor Bloomberg made a surprise visit to the New York Tech Meetup, where he introduced new immigration services for startups. Led by Deputy Mayor Robert Steel and Seth Pinsky of the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the City made its game-changing announcement that Cornell and Technion would build a new engineering campus on Roosevelt Island, powering innovation for generations to come. At NYC Digital we are constantly meeting with innovative New York City startups to assess how we can support their needs and serve New Yorkers. This past year, we joined the Mayor to recognize homegrown startups including Foursquare, Tumblr, and Etsy as well as exciting new office openings from Facebook, Twitter and Yelp. NYC Digital forged partnerships that serve the public with Bitly, Buddy Media, Facebook, Foursquare, General Assembly, Google, Tumblr and Twitter.
Finally, the year came to a close on a positive note as New York City won awards for 2011 City of the Year and the Best Use of Social Media from O’Reilly Media and GovFresh.
As we once again hit the ground running in 2012, we will continue to fulfill the goals outlined in our Road Map and introduce new ones as we build on our collective progress. Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of Mayor Bloomberg, hardworking City employees, our brilliant technology partners, and above all, New Yorkers everywhere. Thank you for helping to make 2011 a success. We look forward to reaching greater heights with you in 2012.