Four ways New York City is going Digital in 2011

With the primary task of assessing New York’s digital strategy, Rachel Sterne has compiled a 90-page report called the Road Map for the Digital City. The report showcases how Rachel and her team plan to increase the cities digital reach. Here is what she plans to implement and how it will effect New York tourists and locals alike.

Greater Access to Digital Information

One simple action that is already being addressed is to provide free wireless access in more public spaces. Three New York parks began receiving wireless Internet last week, while 17 more parks across all five boroughs are due to receive it some time in 2011. Further plans include wireless connections on the subway; the experiment will begin with six stations. Hopefully this will increase quickly as there is really no particular target user; every single New York tourist and local would benefit from this. Lastly, the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program will grant funding for high speed Internet in public spaces such as libraries and recreation centers.

Government API Platform

Tim O’Reilly has envisioned ‘government as a platform.’ He believes that there is great potential to offer the cities’ information and services in a digital capacity. The idea is imagined through an API, which would allow the government to open up the information and services the city provides. This would create a platform for everyone to engage with the city, yet on their own terms, much like Facebook and Twitter do. The potential for travelers is definitely far-reaching.

Increase City Engagement

There are 33 million unique visitors to the website yearly and it is believed that the number will soon overtake physical visits to Central Park, which is at 35 million a year. This is why the city will aim to make digital public spaces welcoming and useful. This will certainly assist travelers as well, who visit the website for travel information on the city events and things to do in New York. The city will also aim to increase social media engagement. Look out for their soon-to-launch Foursquare page, which will reward visitors with a badge for visiting public spaces. They will also launch a Tumblr page that focuses on telling New York stories.

Nurture the NYC Tech Industry

Since New York City already has a thriving startup scene, the city’s digital initiatives will include further encouragement of innovation and entrepreneurship. NYC BigApps, developed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation supports innovative technology by allowing developers to access the NYC DataMine and build public apps with the data. An example from this competition is the popular app called, an app that integrates Foursquare and sends text messages when you check in to a place that scores low on its health inspection. Hopefully talented developers will continue to take part in the competition and develop some interesting NYC-localized apps that will be helpful for tourists and locals.

There is clearly a lot to be done on the initiative but as one of the most digitally-engaged cities, NYC tourists and locals can look forward to some exciting changes.

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