An Agenda for a Better City

9th December, 2012 No Comments Blog

Today, the board of the New York Tech Meetup (NYTM), of which I am a member, released a NYC Technology Policy Agenda.  You can see the entire agenda and learn how you can influence and further it here; I’ve also included the major points from the document below.  I strongly support this agenda, and am very happy that the NYTM has published such a document.  This post explains why.

I suspect – and hope – that most people would agree with all the points in the agenda.  Who wouldn’t want ubiquitous broadband access, better technology education for all, more skilled workers and jobs, truly open government, and smart application of technology to improve quality of life in every way?  Why, then, haven’t we already achieved these objectives?

One important reason is that our government – at every level – functions in response to the efforts of citizens organized to speak with a unified voice on issues relevant to them.  Up until now, there has not been, to my knowledge, a strong and organized advocacy group for these technology agenda items in New York City.  Now there is.

Another reason that this agenda is not already a reality is that the devil is in the details.  This agenda does not spell out the details; it does not prescribe specific actions to achieve the goals it outlines.  The details are meant to be worked out in our system of government through dialogue.  I believe this agenda does an effective job of opening up that conversation, and I hope that other technology advocates and those running for office in 2013 in New York will participate.

We need to turn these agenda items into action, and soon.  Technology is already changing every aspect of life for people everywhere, and particularly in our city.  This change is not solely the result of a growing number of technology companies, big and small, in New York.  The industries that have defined this city for the last several generations – media, financial services, advertising – are already, in many ways, technology businesses.  Newspapers are disappearing as online media explodes, and television is delivered by Internet protocol.  Security trades have been mostly conducted without direct human intervention for some time.  And advertising is increasingly produced, bought, sold, and distributed digitally.

This agenda is therefore an agenda for the information economy, for technology-enabled businesses and citizens from all walks of life.  It is an agenda for all of New York City.  The NYTM is an excellent mouthpiece for this message, because it will soon comprise 30,000 members.  That number may not seem large compared to the population of New York, but it is to my knowledge the largest group of citizens organized around these issues, and one that effectively represents the interests of a much larger number of New Yorkers from all industries and backgrounds.

I do not mean to suggest that our current city government officials and many other community leaders have not worked to leverage and support technology-enabled industries in New York City – many have, including Mayor Bloomberg.  Also, I am not suggesting that there are not other worthy items to add to the agenda.  And there are certainly many details to be fleshed out and implemented through the hard work of city politics before these objectives become reality.  I hope you will add your own input on these topics.  I look forward to the conversation.

NYC Technology Policy Agenda:

  1. Make New York City the most wired city on earth by providing every New Yorker and every New York business regardless of location access to the fastest broadband networks at the lowest cost.
  2. Reinvent the education system to allow every child, young adult, and all New Yorkers to develop the skills necessary to thrive in a 21st century economy.
  3. Make New York City the clear choice for entrepreneurs, software engineers, and other technically skilled professionals to start a business and build a career by making it easy to find partners, financing, office space and housing, employees, and access to markets.
  4. Support the appointment of a Deputy Mayor for Technology Innovation with an appropriate budget charged with the responsibility of reinventing New York City government with a 21st century framework.
  5. Make New York City’s system for civic participation the most open, transparent, accountable, participatory, and innovative in the world.
  6. Make New York City the most citizen-connected community on earth, where its people connect with each other to unleash a powerful 21st century economy: selling to each other, renting to each other, funding each other, sharing with each other, co-working with each other, meeting up with each other, and hiring each other.
  7. Support public policies that would ensure that technology and the opportunities available to the tech community can reach all New York’s citizens, and help solve issues related to healthcare, human rights and justice, gender equality, transportation, the environment, and other issues of fundamental importance to all New Yorkers.


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