City Touts Digital Road Map: More Public WiFi, More Facebook Activity, .NYC Domain

Rachel Sterne

The city plans to aggregate all city news on a Facebook page, build more public wifi, host hackathons, open up more data sets, redesign and eventually introduce a .nyc domain name, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne anounced today during the presser for the “Road Map for the Digital City,” a 60-page report produced by Ms. Sterne and other officials from the mayor’s office based on online surveys and in-person meetings–“over 4,000 points of engagement,” a blanket term that includes comments on Facebook and Twitter.

The plan addresses four areas: internet access for citizens, open government, engagement with citizens online, and growing the industry. The presser focused on the first three, and the road map itself announcing nothing new–just touts the $22 million the city set aside to invest in start-ups through the New York City Entrepreneurial Fund, the BigApps contest, Internet Week and the effort to attract an applied sciences campus (which will probably be Stanford, and will probably be the highest-impact factor in this whole digital city initiative).

Notably missing from the presser and report: Monetary incentives for attracting tech companies. Details about the applied sciences campus. Plans for attracting more engineering talent. “New York might be where the next Google or Facebook gets born,” Mr. Bloomberg said, and became incredulous when an audience member asked if New York really has the infrastructure to produce a company on that level. “The premise of your question is ridiculous. This is the intellectual capital of the world. The best and brightest want to come. There’s no reason why it industry shouldn’t do what fashion and movie industry has done.”

While attracting big tech companies seems to be a priority for the mayor, it was less so among the citizenry. “Chief among public interests were calls for expanded Internet access, a refreshed interface, real-time information, and more digital 311 tools. Businesses and technologists sought greater broadband connectivity, a deeper engineering employment pool, and read/write API access to City information,” the report says.

Questions also derailed at the presser to budget issues and whether Mr. Bloomberg had met with the International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn who is now in police custody on sexual assault charges after a wild weekend in Times Square. Questions on Twitter centered around bad smells in the subway, potholes and other 311-style questions.

The presser was broadcast using the city’s new portable livestreaming equipment, which will allow for streaming broadcasts from anywhere in the city. City Touts Digital Road Map: More Public WiFi, More Facebook Activity, .NYC Domain