In New York City’s search for a new chief technology officer, it found a perfect match in San Francisco. The CIO responsible for leading one of the West Coast’s high-profile cities in its technological evolution is leaving for a new role on the East Coast.
The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications announced on Monday, Oct. 24, that San Francisco CIO Miguel Gamiño Jr. has accepted the Big Apple's chief technology officer (CTO) post, which was left vacant in August when Minerva Tantoco departed.
Gamiño wasn't looking to leave San Francisco; his move into the position "all started with a 6 a.m. phone call," he told Government Technology. "They called me and asked if I knew anyone who would be interested in the position. Part of me thinks they were asking if I had a protégé, and part of me thinks there was maybe some guarded interest."
The conversation ultimately evolved, Gamiño said, to the point where both he and the team in New York City got excited about the opportunity.
And the reason is clear: Under a statewide initiative announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in January, all New York residents must have access to high-speed broadband by 2018 — and providing Internet access is something in which Gamiño is well versed.
During his San Francisco tenure, Gamiño worked to connect the city through a comprehensive wireless network project. He was a driving force in the 2014 launch of free Wi-Fi along Market Street, within city libraries, and at other public parks and spaces.
In addition, Gamiño will be responsible for incorporating the Internet of Things into New York City, which he also has much experience with. His leadership in San Francisco included partnerships with technology giants like Apple, Google and Facebook that helped to bolster connectivity through the implementation of a municipal sensor network.
"I've been asked to come in and take the helm of those particular initiative areas with what seems to be a tremendous amount of support," Gamiño said. "It comes with a tremendous amount of expectation too, but I'm fine with that."
Gamiño, who had previously served as the Department of Technology’s interim CIO, was appointed to the position permanently by Mayor Edwin Lee in December 2014. Officials in New York City expressed to Gamiño that he has a reputation for being not only a thought leader when it comes to broadband and the Internet of Things, but that he also is known for getting things done and making progress.
"That was very flattering and also very motivating that that's what they were looking for," he said.
In March, Gamiño, who previously served as chief information and innovation officer for the city of El Paso, Texas, was named one of the Government Technology 2016 Top 25 Doers, Dreamers and Drivers for his role in Team San Francisco, which also included Chief Data Officer Joy Bonaguro and Chief Innovation Officer Jay Nath.
In 2015, the CIO was instrumental in launching the San Francisco Business Portal to serve as a one-point resource for city and county residents interested in opening, managing or growing their businesses.
But technology deployment was not the only area Gamiño excelled in — he was also known for out-of-the-box thinking during his time in the Bay Area. To help give the city a competitive advantage, a dedicated tech recruiter was added to its staff, as well as a chief information security officer, he said in March.
Reflecting on his time in San Francisco, Gamiño said he's most proud of his work in the broadband arena, not just in terms of bringing connectivity to the area, but also in expanding the conversation beyond the tech community.
"It's not just an experiment anymore," he said. "It's a reliable public service that people now are asking for more. And also I think having helped lead the broadband conversation to the mainstream. I don't take credit for it, but I was certainly part of instigating it — broadband for San Francisco is now a mainstream conversation."
Gamiño also led the transformation of San Francisco's Department of Technology. Though it's not something most on the outside looking in would notice, he said it's something he's proud of given that the department is delivering high-quality services.
"I was able to make technology a positive contributor to the rest of the civic service that the city delivers in all kinds of different areas," he said. "So that was kind of an internal accomplishment, but the ripple effect is really external even if it's not obvious to most people. But it was really important that we get the shop cleaned up so that it could deliver on its responsibility to all the other departments and to the public."
Though the soon-to-be New Yorker told Government Technology that he has not established an official start date with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, he expects to begin near the end of November.
As for leaving a city he's helped to shape tech-wise for the past few years, Gamiño noted that his time spent there has expanded his thinking about how some of these initiatives could be accomplished and how important their impact is to the community.
"It also helped me think about this beyond the local community," he added. "In San Francisco it is primarily serving San Franciscans and in New York it will be primarily to serve New Yorkers, but I think in both cases the world is watching. So it did help me to think bigger and bolder about how this might be done, how important it is, and frankly how big the stakeholder group is that will be impacted by this in both the jurisdiction I'm responsible for at the given time, but also for the global community."
Jessica Mulholland served as the Web editor of Government Technology magazine from October 2012 through September 2017. She worked for the Government Technology editorial team for nearly 10 years.