The greatest city in the world is hiring a Chief Digital Officer! Katherine Oliver, head of NYC Media and part of the search, calls NYC an “urban digital sandbox” and I couldn’t agree more – with the city already opening up data, a Mayor who knows a thing or two about media/technology and an incredibly innovative tech scene there’s so much opportunity that unquestionably the toughest part of the job would be prioritizing. As a New Yorker and a nerd I just can’t resist a bit of shoot-from-the-hip ideation and good old-fashioned nitpicking – here are five quick thoughts:
1. Create a New York City app store. This could include both the city’s own apps (like 311) but also ones produced by third parties such as the apps that came out of NYC Big Apps, those using public data like Sense Networks’ Cabsense and any others that may be useful to residents and visitors alike. The city could consider a certification program that distinguishes between NYC-produced, made-in-NYC and endorsed-by-NYC. Great opportunity to pioneer how municipal apps are presented and could be a scalable model for Apple/Android/etc.
2. NYC Fitness Leaderboard. Why wait for the marathon? We New Yorkers walk circles around most other cities every day and many of us increasingly track our weight/steps/health through connected technology. The city could partner with Fitbit, Withings, Garmin and Nike+ to create a (summer-long?) challenge to get New Yorkers up and out there and on the record. Mayor Bloomberg can challenge other cities to see if they can keep up!
3. Foursquare. Sure, it’s blindingly obvious but from what I’ve seen no other city is officially using it yet and there’s so much to do. And if they refuse to partner Mayor Bloomberg can award Dennis and Naveen a “jury duty” badge…
4. Wholesale Facebook Fix. For starters, why is some guy named Christian Belland using http://www.facebook.com/Newyorkcity? Some NYC departments are already doing a great job on the platform – go Education! go Parks! go DoITT! – but overall there are some big misses. In addition to Mr. Belland’s namesquatting there is also a New York City listing whose “founded” info is “First Settled by Euros in 1624″ and which lists NYC’s products as “Taxis, greek coffee cups”(sic). Sure, the coffee cup line is a good one and maybe most of the 496,486 fans realize that it’s unofficial but perhaps there ought to be an official and comprehensive counterbalance. Facebook is a bit of a glaring omission on the Stay Connected section of NYC.gov site (which includes Twitter, YouTube and Flickr) so hopefully this is in the works.
5. Twitter Best Practices. I really enjoy the 311NYC tweets but I like their list of who they follow even more – it serves as an index to all of the city’s Twitter accounts. It’s a model that should be followed on the rest of the city’s Twitter pages and in the “Favorite Pages” section of all NYC Facebook pages.
Without question I’m merely scratching the surface here – simply opening the city’s data will likely be a decade-long process – but doing that and extending the city’s digital reach with other innovations will yield incredible value for the city’s businesses, residents, visitors and for the government itself. As a New Yorker I can hardly wait.