Andrew Rasiej is a civic and social entrepreneur, technology strategist, and Founder of Personal Democracy Media focusing on the intersection of technology, politics, and government. He recently founded Civic Hall, a 18,000 square foot community center and event space for civic innovation in the Flatiron District of New York City. He is the Chairman of the NY Tech Meetup, a 40,000+-member organization of technologists, venture funders, marketers, representing start up and more mature companies using technology to transform themselves, New York City, and the world. He is the Founder of MOUSE.org which focuses on 21st century public education. He is also Senior Technology Advisor to the Sunlight Foundation a Washington DC organization using technology to make government more transparent. Andrew lives and works in New York City, and can be followed on twitter at @rasiej.
By Andrew Rasiej | Via Business Insider | Nov, 18, 2013.
Much has been written and said lately about the fear and trepidation prevailing over the New York City technology and entrepreneurial community as one of their own, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, leaves office, and Bill de Blasio, the city’s Public Advocate, takes his place.
Some of this concern is reasonable considering that for the last 12 years most people in the startup and emerging technology industries could not have asked for a more supportive Mayor.
Among the Mayor Bloomberg’s signature achievements were: the formation of Cornell’s Technion’s campus to stimulate the creation of high-quality home-grown tech talent; the appointment of New York City’s first Chief Digital Officer, Rachel Haot who, among many accomplishments, championed two iterations of a NYC Digital Road Map, lead the re-launch of the NYC.gov, oriented the city towards the future of disaster relief by helping to create Code Corps to bring the benefits of technology to bear after Hurricane Sandy; and helped position NYC government as a leader in the open civic data movement by supporting the passage of City Council woman Gail Brewer’s NYC’s open data legislation and the city’s now annual Big Apps competition.
Other initiatives by the City’s Economic Development Corporation to support and stimulate investments in technology startups, create WiFi corridors in multiple neighborhoods, and provide grants to strategic startups like General Assembly, add greatly to the Mayor’s legacy as a champion for all things related to New York’s tech.
Yet, even with all these great initiatives, there is still much more to be done to ensure that New York City builds the digital foundations for its future and transforms itself to successfully compete in the new hyper-connected global economy.
It’s true that Mayor-elect de Blasio is relatively unknown to members of tech community, many of whom are not deeply versed in the city’s politics or generally maintain an apolitical perspective. However, de Blasio’s rejection of some of Mayor Bloomberg’s policies during a partisan election campaign should not be confused with his agreement with the current Mayor that the technology industry is key to NYC’s future success and that it should continue to be supported and recognized as key strategic partner in the city’s future.
In fact, the tech community should be reassured and excited by the prospect of a future Mayor de Blasio because he has already clearly articulated a public policy perspective that tackles many of NYC tech community’s most important issues. Just three of his explicitly stated goals could do more for the future of New York’s tech sector than anything done previously. They are:
1) Make New York City the most wired city in the world with low-cost high-speed wired broadband delivered to every residence and business.
2) Increase the pool of engineering talent available in NYC by extending the vision of Cornell Technion to the entire system of the City University of New York (CUNY) while simultaneously accelerating the teaching of science and math in public schools. Both of these efforts will help address the city’s current tech talent gap and make it less reliant on importing skilled professionals as it does now.
3) Retool New York City government to become a 21st century enterprise with more standardized and open data, revise the procurement processes to allow startups to bid on city contracts, and use new tools and platforms to deliver services more efficiently while engaging the public in making the city work better.