Tag Archives: 311

New York release road map to becoming a digital city

Yesterday, New York City released its “Road Map for the Digital City: Achieving New York City’s Digital Future.” For those who missed the announcement, especially those concerned about the digital economy, the future of government and citizen services, the document is definitely worth downloading and scanning.

At the heart of the document sits a road map which I’ve ripped from the executive summary and pasted below.What makes me particularly interested in it is how the Open Government section is not uniquely driven by the desire for transparency but with the goal of spurring innovation and increasing access to services. Of course, the devil is in the details but I’m increasingly convinced that open initiatives will be more successful when the government of the day has some specific policy objectives (beyond just transparency) it wishes to drive home, with open data as part of the mix (more on this in a post coming soon).

As such, “government as platform” works best when the government also builds atop the platform. It itself must be a consumer and stakeholder. This is why section 3 is so important and interesting. Essentially section 2 and 3 have parts that are strikingly similar, its just that section 2 outlines the platform and lays out that the government hopes others will build on top of it whereas parts of section 3 outline what the government intends to build atop of it. Of course section 3 goes further and talks as well about gathering information and data from the public which is the big thing in the Gov 2.0 space that many governments have not gotten around to doing effectively – so this will be worth watching more closely. All of this is great news and exactly what governments should be thinking about.

It is great when a big city comes out with a document like this because while New York is not the first to be thinking these ideas, but its profile means that others will start devoting resources to pursue these ideas more aggressively.

Exciting times.

1. Access

The City of New York ensures that all New Yorkers can access the Internet and take advan- tage of public training sessions to use it effectively. It will support more vendor choices to New Yorkers, and introduce Wi-Fi in more public areas.

  1. Connect high needs individuals through federally funded nyc Connected initiatives
  2. Launch outreach and education efforts to increase broadband Internet adoption
  3. Support more broadband choices citywide
  4. Introduce Wi-Fi in more public spaces, including parks

2. Open Government

By unlocking important public information and supporting policies of Open Government, New York City will further expand access to services, enable innovation that improves the lives of New Yorkers, and increase transparency and efficiency.

  1. Develop nyc Platform, an Open Government framework featuring APIs for City data
  2. Launch a central hub for engaging and cultivating feedback from the developer community
  3. Introduce visualization tools that make data more accessible to the public
  4. Launch App Wishlists to support a needs-based ecosystem of innovation
  5. Launch an official New York City Apps hub

3. Engagement

The City will improve digital tools including nyc.gov and 311 online to streamline service and enable citizen-centric, collaborative government. It will expand social media engagement, implement new internal coordination measures, and continue to solicit community input in the following ways:

  1. Relaunch nyc.gov to make the City’s website more usable, accessible, and intuitive
  2. Expand 311 Online through smartphone apps, Twitter and live chat
  3. Implement a custom bit.ly url redirection service on nyc.gov to encourage sharing and transparency
  4. Launch official Facebook presence to engage New Yorkers and customize experience
  5. Launch @nycgov, a central Twitter account and one-stop shop of crucial news and services
  6. Launch a New York City Tumblr vertical, featuring content and commentary on City stories
  7. Launch a Foursquare badge that encourages use of New York City’s free public places
  8. Integrate crowdsourcing tools for emergency situations
  9. Introduce digital Citizen Toolkits for engaging with New York City government online
  10. Introduce smart, a team of the City’s social media leaders
  11. Host New York City’s first hackathon: Reinventing nyc.gov
  12. Launch an ongoing listening sessions across the five boroughs to encourage input

4. Industry

New York City government, led by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, will continue to support a vibrant digital media sector through a wide array of programs, including workforce development, the establishment of a new engineering institution, and a more stream- lined path to do business.

  1. Expand workforce development programs to support growth and diversity in the digital sector
  2. Support technology startup infrastructure needs
  3. Continue to recruit more engineering talent and teams to New York City
  4. Promote and celebrate nyc’s digital sector through events and awards
  5. Pursue a new .nyc top-level domain, led by DOITT


Many eyes make all bugs shallow – especially when the eyes get smarter

[Please bear with me for the next 24 hours – I’m moving to a new hosting company, and there may be some glitches here and there to work out. Thanks.]

My friend Diederik has been writing a number of cool posts over at his blog Network-labs.org. For example he has an awesome jetpack plugin that predicts the likelihood a bug will get fixed and a plugin that allows users to rate how badly a bug is being flamed (to spot counterproductive behaviours).

But he recently published a very cool post that uses data from Mozilla bug submissions over the past decade to demonstrate that bug submitters become more proficient over time. However, there are outliers who are a “drag” on the system. More importantly, I believe his data can be interpreted in another way. That, with some minor investment (particularly some simpler vetting screens prior to reaching bugzilla) bug submitters could learn faster.

For example, a landing screen that asks you if you’ve ever submitted a bug before might take newbies to a different page where the bugzilla process is explained in greater detail, the fact that this is not a support site is outlined, and some models of good “submissions” are shared (along with some words of encouragement). By segmenting newbies we might ease the work burden on those who have to vet the bugs.

I think this also has implications for cities and 311 systems (systems that essentially allow citizens to report problems – or bugs – with city infrastructure or services). There will inevitably be people who become heavy users of 311 – the goal is not to get frustrated with them, but to move them up a learning curve of submitting helpful and useful information as quickly as possible. Ignoring them will not work. Strategies for engagement, including understanding what is motivating them and why they continue to use the system in an ineffective way, could help save the city resources and help foster a larger army of citizens who use their spare social capital to make the city a better and more resilient space.