Friday, October 8th
Hello BetaNYC friends!
As we begin the final quarter of 2021, and conclude eight groundbreaking years in the civic tech sphere, I would like to take the time to acknowledge our upcoming elections, reflect on these past eight years and look ahead to the future.
This Fall, we hope many of you will vote in citywide races and five statewide ballot proposals. However, it is just as important for you to participate in our Peoples’ Tech Assemblies. As you may know, we launched the Peoples’ Tech Assemblies this summer, but you might be wondering about the scope of the project, what events led to the current coalition, or to put it crudely, why you should care.
Eight years ago, around 250 New Yorkers gathered together to outline a comprehensive public interest technology vision. In coworking spaces across the city, we demystified technology and painted a vision for the future. These conversations led to the Peoples’ Roadmap to a Digital New York City — our community values document and an outline of 34 programs and opportunities critical to realizing a 21st century New York City.
Every day, BetaNYC has argued for a smarter city, built with New Yorkers. When we realized our hacknights were only privileging those who already had access and literacy, we started the Civic Innovation Fellowship program for CUNY students. Then, we hired them as apprentices to continue their career development. Our fellows and apprentices have built tools for Community Boards and supported research and data assistance requests, better known as RADARs. Together, we have supported Community Boards, NGOs, council members, journalists, and mutual aid groups to navigate our digital working environments.
For the past five years, we have harnessed the Roadmap’s values to a celebration of transparency, participation, and demystification — we now call this NYC’s Open Data Week.
The Peoples’ Roadmap directly led to new government accountability laws. It outlined pathways to strengthen our municipal open data program, and forced the city to publish audits of the data. The Roadmap inspired the creation of digitally savvy teams to design better government services and code openly. Also, we accomplished the following...
- The City Charter and City Record were put online.
- The Open Data Law and Chief Analytics Officer were made permanent and enshrined into the City Charter.
- Community Boards have gotten more resources and are using digital tools to engage.
- Digital Units have proliferated — The City’s CTO, Labs in City Council, City Planning, and Service Design departments across several agencies
- Access to the City’s Freedom of Information Law is centralized, online, and powered by open source software.
- A proliferation of open source projects across agencies.
- Participatory Budgeting was expanded into the Municipal Budget.
TL;DR - We need your ideas to help us rewrite the Peoples’ Roadmap. In 2013, we came together to write a collaborative vision. Today, we ask you to assemble with us at < https://peoplestech.nyc/ >. We need your help to keep our beautiful city strong, resilient, and accessible to all in the years to come.
Here’s to a fruitful next eight years.
- Noel Hidalgo