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Mayor Bloomberg And Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne Unveil <em>road Map For The Digital City</em> - A Plan To Make New York The Nation's Leading Digital City

May 16, 2011

Mayor Demos Remote Streaming Technology That Will Enable Officials to Broadcast Live from Anywhere in City to Television Networks, Websites and Mobile Devices

New Partnerships with Major Digital Companies Including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr Will Modernize and Expand How City Government Communicates with New Yorkers

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne today unveiled Road Map for the Digital City – a comprehensive strategy to make New York the nation’s leading digital City. At the Mayor’s direction, Sterne – New York City’s first Chief Digital Officer – conducted a 90-day review in collaboration with numerous City agencies and based on meetings with stakeholders in the public and private sectors and input from residents from all five boroughs on how New York City should enhance its use of digital media and its standing as a digital City. The resulting digital road map provides a framework to enhance City government’s engagement with New Yorkers, increase New Yorkers’ access to new technologies, continue making government information and services more transparent, and promote the tech industry. As part of the plan, the Mayor announced upcoming partnerships with a range of social media companies including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr. These partnerships will allow the City to engage with residents in a more efficient and unified manner, giving New Yorkers the opportunity to connect with their government using the latest advances in digital communication. The Mayor and Sterne demonstrated live remote streaming technology from the Bullpen at City Hall before unveiling the report in the Blue Room with Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) Commissioner Carole Post; New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinksy; Mayor’s Office of Media & Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver; City Councilmember Fernando Cabrera, Chair of the Council Technology Committee; Akshay Patil of Foursquare; Tumblr President John Maloney; and Adam Sharp, Twitter’s manager of government and political partnerships.

“Any organization, in the public or private sector, that wants to be a leader in customer service must be a leader in digital media,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “New York City already excels in the field in many ways, but, as our first Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne has outlined, there is more we can do, and we will. We want New York City to be the nation’s premier digital City – in how local government interacts with New Yorkers, in how New Yorkers have access to and capitalize on new technologies, and in how our tech and digital media sectors evolve, grow businesses and create jobs. The Road Map for the Digital City will help us get there.”

“Mayor Bloomberg has provided an opportunity to really examine the way that City government innovates digitally,” said Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne. “In the course of my meetings and research, I’ve found that New York City already leads the way in many areas. We now have the opportunity to build on the work that is already happening and bring it to the next level. I want to thank DoITT Commissioner Post and NYC EDC President Pinsky for all of their work as well their staffs’ contributions in the creation of this roadmap. I’d also like to commend the Mayor for the leadership he has shown as one of the pioneers of technology innovation.”

New York City’s website – – engages approximately 2.8 million visitors per month and has an additional audience of over 1.2 million users through social media. Over the next eighteen months, the City will work on a comprehensive redesign of to make it even more user-friendly. For the first step of this initiative, in close collaboration with DoITT, the City will host its first “Hackathon,” inviting web designers and developers to spend a weekend together creating possible prototypes for the new The Hackathon will be hosted by General Assembly, a new City-sponsored campus for technology, design, and entrepreneurship in Manhattan, and NYC Digital this summer. Pioneers in the field of digital engagement will help shape the direction of and provide valuable ideas and opportunities for mentoring individual City agencies.

Over the next three months, the City will unveil new partnerships with Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr that will modernize and expand how New York City government communicates with New Yorkers. The partnership with Facebook – to be launched over the next 45 days – will include the City’s first Facebook streamlined page, Facebook sharing features on, and over time, a first-of-its-kind linkage to 311 and opportunities for New Yorkers to voice their opinions, engage in discussions, ask questions and participate in citywide polls.

“Social technologies like Facebook can enhance transparency, collaboration, information sharing, and citizen engagement and we’re excited to be part of this initiative,” said Facebook Director of Public Policy Tim Sparapani. “It is our hope that Mayor Bloomberg’s program becomes a model for other cities to replicate as governments around the world find innovative ways to connect with citizens, provide information and deliver services.”

The City will launch an @nycgov Twitter account to provide residents with a one-stop shop for real-time updates on City news and services. Today, the City uses texting on a limited basis given the costs associated with it. That will change as New York will be the first city to use Twitter’s just-announced Fast Follow service, which will allow New Yorkers to receive @nycgov Twitter updates via SMS simply by texting “follow nycgov” to 40404. Neither a computer nor Twitter account is required to receive @nycgov updates via SMS text message.

“With the launch of @nycgov and the expansion of its other efforts on Twitter, the City of New York is investing in an exciting new generation of community engagement,” said Adam Sharp, Twitter’s manager of government and political partnerships. “Now, New York City Twitter users will be able to instantly connect to even more of the meaningful information and essential services they care about. We applaud Mayor Bloomberg and Chief Digital Officer Sterne for their leadership on this initiative.”

New York City-based Foursquare allows users to check in at destinations around the City. The City and Foursquare will encourage New Yorkers to check in at public spaces like parks and cultural centers with a custom Foursquare badge. Foursquare offers local businesses unique marketing opportunities, but many New York City businesses are unaware of the potential benefits. Foursquare will work with the Department of Small Business Services to develop and distribute a small business tool-kit for local companies.

“Foursquare grew out of the New York tech scene, and we are super excited to continue to contribute to the growth of that community and to New York’s emergence as the nation’s leading digital city,” said Foursquare CEO and Co-Founder Dennis Crowley.

Tumblr, another New York City-based startup company, enables users to share text, photos, videos to people in varied and customized ways. The company will work with the City to establish agency pages and will provide training to help agencies expand their digital communication efforts.

“Of the many things that make this City the greatest in the world, one of the most vital elements to protect and improve is New York’s efficient flow of information,” said Tumblr President John Maloney. “Tumblr is excited to help Mayor Bloomberg and Rachel Sterne to facilitate a real peer-to-peer communication between the city's government and its citizens.”

The digital media partnerships are part of the Engagement section of the report. The others relate to Access and Open Government and Industry. The City will increase digital access among New Yorkers by introducing wi-fi to more public spaces through federally funded initiatives, launching education and outreach efforts to increase broadband internet adoption and supporting more broadband choices citywide. The City is committed to increasing government transparency and will further expand access to services and enable innovation that improves the lives of New Yorkers through NYC Platform, an open government framework featuring Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for City data. The City will also launch a hub for feedback from the developer community and will create an NYC App store. Finally, the City, led by the New York City Economic Development Corporation, will continue to support a vibrant digital media sector by attracting and developing a talented workforce and making it easier to start and operate businesses in the industry.

“As the technologies New Yorkers use keep advancing, City government evolves to ensure services are delivered in the most effective and innovative ways,” said DoITT Commissioner Carole Post.  “Our Digital Roadmap is a milestone on that journey – blazing the path by which New York City will continue to master the digital age.”

“New York City has experienced explosive growth in the digital sector over the last decade,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky. “This new digital roadmap will make government more accessible to the public, allowing us to communicate more effectively about our City’s assets to local and global audiences and supporting our efforts to compete in the 21st century economy.”

Sterne was appointed as New York City’s first Chief Digital Officer, serving through the NYC Digital of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment with a mission to streamline and enhance the City’s digital media and serve as a conduit to the tech community in New York City. In drafting this report, she obtained input from a multitude of sources reaching out and hearing from  over 4,000 points of contact. The report represents the most exhaustive look at the digital city as a whole that has ever been put together.

“This holistic digital strategy sets the tone for digital communications in New York City in the coming years,” said Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Katherine Oliver. “This is a City that never stops evolving and is always on the forefront of the next big thing. Implementing this report will continue to make New York City the place where the next Foursquare, Facebook, Twitter, Google or Tumblr can keep thriving and where the next big thing can blossom and grow. We need to do everything we can to keep building that environment and that's what we are doing in New York.”

City agencies currently manage more than 200 social media channels. Part of the role of the Chief Digital Officer is to take steps to streamline the digital communications process and create a more centralized mechanism for exchanging information. This will involve training for agencies that currently use social media, working with digital media companies, and creating an advisory group within City government called “SMART” (Social Media Advisory & Research Taskforce). SMART will be responsible for managing Citywide social media feeds including Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr, providing recommendations on social media tools and strategies, assisting other City agencies on social media, evaluating new platforms; and updating guidelines and policies.

The report is available at or by downloading the NYC Media App to their mobile device or through the City’s digital media outlets.

Before unveiling the plan in the Blue Room of City Hall, Mayor Bloomberg and Chief Digital Officer Sterne answered questions sent by Twitter from the Bullpen. The footage was streamed live using portable encoder and transmission technology, which allows for portable devices to feed events directly to the public using cellular signals. The Mayor’s Media Room has been experimenting with this technology, which would allow the Mayor or other officials to broadcast live to television networks and live streaming websites – which can be viewed on most mobile devices – from anywhere in New York City immediately. It was the first time the City used the technology live.

NYC Digital is part of The Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment, which consists of the Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, NYC Digital, and NYC Media – the official TV, radio and online network of the City of New York. The agency’s mission is to streamline government communications by making information accessible, leveraging technology to aid in the transparency of government and by supporting relevant media and entertainment industries in New York City.

Media Contact

Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent (Mayor)
(212) 788-2958