New York City Chief Digital Officer Bids Farewell … for Now

The city’s inaugural CDO, Jessica Singleton, helped transform NYC into one of the hottest tech scenes in the world.

by / July 20, 2016

After two and a half years at the helm of New York City’s digital revolution, Chief Digital Officer Jessica Singleton is stepping down to pursue an MBA at Harvard Business School — but describes in a post on Medium that she is not saying "goodbye," only "see you soon."

Hired by Mayor Bill de Blasio as the city’s digital director, she has shown her competence in connecting citizens with government tech services, and made NYC an attractive home for bourgeoning tech companies.

Singleton’s accomplishments can be broken down into three basic categories: human capital and talent, access and infrastructure, and government’s own innovation. On each front, significant progress has been made.

Training the city’s next generation of tech workers has been a huge priority for Singleton and the city. In September 2015, de Blasio announced $80 million in funding for all public schools in the city to teach computer science and the basics of programming. The city also has tripled the Tech Talent Pipeline, expanding the program for another 1,000 New Yorkers.

Another major initiative has been the conversion of telephone booths to Wi-Fi hot spots. The LinkNYC project delivered free gigabit speeds across the five boroughs, and numerous companies have committed to expanding operations in the city, including Google, New Lab and WeWork.

Perhaps her greatest accomplishment was the release of the NYC Digital Playbook, a commitment and strategy to building an interactive and innovative host of digital services. The playbook showcases the city’s technology principles while outlining how to make the city even more attractive to tech companies.

"By doubling-down on our commitment to openness and creating a formal pipeline from government to New York City's incomparable tech and design community,” Singleton said in an email to Government Technology upon the playbook's launch, “we will serve New Yorkers in a smarter and more effective way.”

This is paired with NYC Alpha, an evolving beta portal to deliver online services to constituents that Singleton described as a place where officials can test out new ideas, get feedback from the public, and blog weekly on what’s working and what isn’t.