New York City is investing in innovation. More specifically, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Sept. 9 the creation of a new mayoral office and cabinet position. At the 10th annual NY Tech Meetup, Minerva Tantoco was named as the city’s first chief technology officer, serving a new office called the Office of Technology and Innovation.
"In the spirit of today's announcement by Apple, I'm going to channel Steve Jobs for a moment, and end this presentation with the proverbial, 'One more thing,' and the one more thing is a really good and important thing," de Blasio said during the meetup. "For the first time in the history of NYC government, we are going to have a chief technology officer."
The notion of being the inaugural person in a role -- the person who has to create the role -- would be daunting to some, especially on one of the biggest stages in the world, de Blasio added. "But it is not daunting to Minerva Tantoco, and I am certain she will take this role on from the beginning and develop it into something that will powerfully affect not only all city government, but all of the deep connection we need to have between the tech community and city government."
Tantoco currently serves as CTO of Swiss financial services firm UBS, and previously worked for Merrill Lynch as director of investment banking technology. Forbes featured Tantoco last year in a transcribed interview in which she talks about the technologies that excite her, how there should be more women involved with technology, and her experience working in the corporate and startup worlds.
“The combination of artificial intelligence applied to the massively growing amount of systems, data, and interconnections offers capabilities we have yet to dream of,” Tantoco told Forbes. “Wearable computing, gamification and advances in biometrics such as voice recognition will turn some science fiction concepts into reality. My personal hope is that we use these technologies to spread knowledge and improve education, especially in underserved communities.”
Tantoco will become the city’s first CTO, filling the void left by the departure of the city's first chief digital officer Rachel Sterne Haot, who left the mayor’s office to become New York state’s CTO last year.
"As a girl from Queens and the Bronx High School of Science and a proud New Yorker, it's truly an honor to be named the first-ever CTO of New York City," Tantoco said at the NY Tech Meetup. "Thinking back, what drew me to tech was its ability to transform, empower and ultimately drive change in all aspects of our lives. Technology is a great field for optimistic, creative people who love to solve problems."
And as CTO, de Blasio said during the meetup, Tantoco's goal will be to develop and implement a coordinated strategy for technology and innovation for how New York City as a whole is going to approach the role of technology in people's everyday lives, in the city's economy, in its schools, in its civic participation.
"It's no question to me," he said, "that we're only scratching the surface of what technology can mean for a redemocratization of our society for a much greater involvement of our citizens in all matters of civic life."