July 19, 2024

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Education, What Else?

Lessons Learned from NYC’s Smart City Transformation

5 min read

At RUBICONSmartCity™ Next Summit 2022, Minerva Tantoco spoke about her tenure as New York City’s first Main Technologies Officer from 2014 to 2016. She reflected on her experience pioneering New York’s push to turn into a smart city, mentioned the intentional system she used to approach technological innovation, and stated how that formed her team’s jobs.

If you missed Tantoco’s presentation, we will deal with three principal takeaways from her keynote.  

Technology Should really Serve Anyone

Tantoco explained the New York City she envisioned during her tenure: “Not just a clever town, but a smarter and additional equitable city.” She wanted to use new know-how to benefit all New Yorkers alternatively of concentrating on the town dwellers who presently made use of know-how each and every day to improve their lives.

1 of her main priorities was supplying online entry for every person. She stated that, in 2014, a quarter of the households in New York Metropolis did not have access to broadband internet and this was not just a matter of cultural relevance. Devoid of access, residents were being minimize off from critical means these types of as e mail, work purposes, and benefit applications. That was why she determined the city should really make investments in broadening and democratizing entry to WiFi. 

When Tantoco commenced her term in September 2014, she realized that the City’s payphone contracts would expire in 3 months. In the course of Mayor Bloomberg’s tenure, it was determined they should really replace payphones with one thing that could serve as a solution to the Wi-Fi fairness problem. In that a few-month time period, she chosen new sellers, negotiated new contracts, and attained borough approval to make the LinkNYC kiosks. Of this experience, Tantoco noted that “A very little hearth can help the inventive strength.”

These kiosks offered the speediest Wi-Fi readily available at the time. In addition to providing free of charge online, they had been ADA compliant. Their height ensured any individual could use them, and their keyboards had braille. Tantoco’s staff also extra a 911 button, so they could also provide a general public protection purpose. 

LinkNYC kiosks are an illustration of how technologies was utilised to make New York Metropolis a a lot more equitable put. She mentioned there were being first protests and complaints, but acquiring a short while ago seen a wheelchair person utilizing the kiosk tablet to use for benefits she was reassured that this was a valuable development for the community. 

Introduce Helpful Tech Marketplace Practices to Govt Organizations

Getting left a CTO place in the personal sector to perform in town federal government, Tantoco introduced a wealth of new tips to her business, which include a single she described as “iterative improvement,”—which breaks a bigger product or service or process into lesser elements to consider if they could be utilised in other approaches.

In the technological know-how subject, Tantoco explained, workers look at how they can use a project’s tools in new approaches, or how they can tweak the equipment to make continuous enhancements. 

As New York City’s CTO, she encouraged businesses to increase the resources they had at their disposal. She prompt organizations consider ‘hackathons’, inviting the two employees and constituents to take part. The NYC BigApps Competitors, which gives programmers, developers, designers, and business people with entry to municipal datasets to create technological items that tackle civic issues influencing New York Town, was a prime illustration. The contest offered designers, programmers, and business people with accessibility to info gathered by the Metropolis. 

Tantoco cited the Office of Sanitation as 1 of the most innovative organizations she labored with, also noting the importance of Rubicon’s function with other towns on their waste management functions.  

The Very best Thoughts Occur from Details

When it will come to innovation, Tantoco believes that the concentration wants to be on persons. She mentioned, “It is not about the tech it’s about what we can do with it. How do we make tech a drive for very good?”

She shared that the way to warranty that technology is effective for folks is to recognize their needs. The question then is: how do you know what individuals require? You could inquire them, indeed, but Tantoco pointed out that holding a local community assembly or a town corridor conference does not signify you are hearing from the the greater part of your constituents. Numerous citizens can’t show up at these conferences simply because of get the job done commitments, transportation, or child care constraints. Alternatively, Tantoco employed details to figure out which neighborhoods would reward from new technologies primarily based on metrics these kinds of as regular money amounts inside a specified community. Innovation labs had been also strategically placed in the neighborhoods they meant to enhance, permitting citizens to have far more visibility into the tasks that would influence them, and welcoming their enter.  

Tantoco explained info is the essential to producing positive tech is targeted on resolving inequity going forward. 

Citing an instance to display how information can be beneficial, she explained that the NYC Division of Transportation put GPS products on City buses and the targeted visitors lights they handed on their routes. These GPS products communicated with just one yet another so that, if a town bus ended up approaching a gentle, it would stay environmentally friendly for a longer period to make it possible for the bus to move by means of the intersection. This slight transform was enough to shorten commute occasions and reduce air pollution as it minimized the time a bus invested idling. Facts confirmed that commute times have been diminished by 20 per cent.  

Information confirmed that the experiment was a results, and the variations were used to other bus routes, enhancing the relaxation of the City’s congested corridors.

Tantoco emphasized the value of intention in innovation and that new know-how must be employed to advantage the most people possible in get to make a certainly smart town. 


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