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New York City to Redesign Web Portal, Add More Wi-Fi

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne announce new strategy intended to strengthen digital media.

Rachel Sterne, New York City’s chief digital officer, has a message for the five boroughs:  The city’s online services are good, but they still can be strengthened.

The city government is reaching 4 million residents each month online, is providing the public with 350 government data sets, has achieved 98 percent broadband coverage in residential neighborhoods, and is providing information through 200 social media channels.

“By all indices, the City of New York, in a digital capacity, is thriving — but we can always do more,” she said Monday, May 16, at a City Hall press conference announcing New York City’s new “Road Map for the Digital City,” a strategy review initiated by Sterne’s hiring in January.

The document, available for free PDF download , will guide New York City’s digital efforts to improve transparency, citizen engagement, availability of technology and the city’s high-tech industry.

Bloomberg said the roadmap will take a four-pronged approach: enhancing social media and citizen engagement; improving access to digital media; using digital media to make government more open, accessible and transparent; and supporting the city’s digital industry.

“I certainly wholly endorse [the road map’s] chief objective, and that is making New York the No. 1 digital city in both the public and private sectors,” Bloomberg said Monday.

The plan identifies 30 initiatives, including the proposed redesign of so that it’s more user-friendly and the addition of more features to 311 Online, the city’s customer service interface.

New York City also will team with Facebook and Twitter to build customized pages for the city that will integrate the social media applications. Foursquare will make customized badges that encourage New Yorkers to visit civic and cultural locations, while Tumblr will build a curated page of city news that’s available on the Web.

Another priority is expanding Wi-Fi into more public places, such as parks.

The city also will develop an application programming interface so that software applications can communicate with one another, and make it easier to link content on to other websites. “What this means is we can develop an entire ecosystem of tools and apps and different technologies that make life easier for New Yorkers,” Sterne said.

The city government also will take steps to support digital industry. New York City recently overtook Boston as the city with the second-most venture capital, Bloomberg and Sterne said.

“We’re in an amazing position, but there’s always more that we can do,” Sterne said, “and today this plan outlines those things.”


Lauren Katims previously served as a staff writer and contributing writer for Government Technology magazine.