Andrew Rasiej is a civic and social entrepreneur, technology strategist, and Founder of Civic Hall, a collaborative work center, and event space currently located in the Flatiron district of Manhattan supporting a growing community of people and organizations building technology solutions for the public good. Civic Hall is also in the process of constructing a new 80,000 sq. ft.facility called Civic Hall @ Union Square to expand its work and create a new Digital Skills Training center for underserved individuals and communities. Andrew is also the Founder of annual Personal Democracy Forum the world's largest and best known gathering focusing on the intersection of technology, politics, and government. He is the Chairman Emeritus of the NY Tech Alliance, a 60,000+-member organization of New Yorkers from diverse industries working in the New York technology ecosystem. He is the Founder of MOUSE.org, which provides technology education in public schools in New York and many other global locations. He was a founding Senior Technology Advisor to the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington DC organization using technology to help make government more transparent and accountable. Andrew lives and works near Union Square in New York City, and can be followed on twitter at @Rasiej.
By Andrew Rasiej | Via Business Insider | Nov, 18, 2013.
Much has been written and said lately about the fear and trepidation prevailing over the New York City technology and entrepreneurial community as one of their own, Mayor Mike Bloomberg, leaves office, and Bill de Blasio, the city’s Public Advocate, takes his place.
Some of this concern is reasonable considering that for the last 12 years most people in the startup and emerging technology industries could not have asked for a more supportive Mayor.
Among the Mayor Bloomberg’s signature achievements were: the formation of Cornell’s Technion’s campus to stimulate the creation of high-quality home-grown tech talent; the appointment of New York City’s first Chief Digital Officer, Rachel Haot who, among many accomplishments, championed two iterations of a NYC Digital Road Map, lead the re-launch of the NYC.gov, oriented the city towards the future of disaster relief by helping to create Code Corps to bring the benefits of technology to bear after Hurricane Sandy; and helped position NYC government as a leader in the open civic data movement by supporting the passage of City Council woman Gail Brewer’s NYC’s open data legislation and the city’s now annual Big Apps competition.
Other initiatives by the City’s Economic Development Corporation to support and stimulate investments in technology startups, create WiFi corridors in multiple neighborhoods, and provide grants to strategic startups like General Assembly, add greatly to the Mayor’s legacy as a champion for all things related to New York’s tech.
Yet, even with all these great initiatives, there is still much more to be done to ensure that New York City builds the digital foundations for its future and transforms itself to successfully compete in the new hyper-connected global economy.
It’s true that Mayor-elect de Blasio is relatively unknown to members of tech community, many of whom are not deeply versed in the city’s politics or generally maintain an apolitical perspective. However, de Blasio’s rejection of some of Mayor Bloomberg’s policies during a partisan election campaign should not be confused with his agreement with the current Mayor that the technology industry is key to NYC’s future success and that it should continue to be supported and recognized as key strategic partner in the city’s future.
In fact, the tech community should be reassured and excited by the prospect of a future Mayor de Blasio because he has already clearly articulated a public policy perspective that tackles many of NYC tech community’s most important issues. Just three of his explicitly stated goals could do more for the future of New York’s tech sector than anything done previously. They are:
1) Make New York City the most wired city in the world with low-cost high-speed wired broadband delivered to every residence and business.
2) Increase the pool of engineering talent available in NYC by extending the vision of Cornell Technion to the entire system of the City University of New York (CUNY) while simultaneously accelerating the teaching of science and math in public schools. Both of these efforts will help address the city’s current tech talent gap and make it less reliant on importing skilled professionals as it does now.
3) Retool New York City government to become a 21st century enterprise with more standardized and open data, revise the procurement processes to allow startups to bid on city contracts, and use new tools and platforms to deliver services more efficiently while engaging the public in making the city work better.