Scorecard: Technology and Telecommunications

Written by City & State on . Posted in Technology.

The Players

The City
In the Cuomo administration, Brian Digman is the chief information officer and director of the Office of Information Technology Services. Digman, who was named by Government Technology Magazine as the state’s CIO of the year in 2012, has taken steps to streamline and consolidate state IT functions and make government more transparent.In the Legislature, state Sen. George Maziarz chairs the telecommunications committee and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo is the chair of her house’s commission on science and technology. Ken Adams, the CEO of Empire State Development, also plays a key role with the state’s regional economic development councils, which have secured funding for high-tech projects, and the governor’s new “Start-Up NY” program.

The State
Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who earned his fortune in information services, has made bringing the high tech industry to New York City’s “Silicon Alley” a focus of his administration. Deputy Mayor Bob Steel and Seth Pinsky, president of the city’s Economic Development Corporation, launched a competition that paved the way for Cornell University’s planned science and technology campus on Roosevelt Island. Meanwhile, Rachel Sterne, the city’s chief digital officer, has spearheaded an ambitious “Digital Roadmap” for the city, including expanded broadband, more WiFi and an apps contest to make better use of the city’s data. Rahul Merchant heads up the city’s department of information technology and telecommunications, while City Councilman Fernando Cabrera chairs the technology committee.

The Issues

Roosevelt Tech Campus
Cornell University is poised to build a technology campus, dubbed Cornell NYC Tech, on Roosevelt Island in order to “bring industry and academia together.” The university has recently partnered with Forest City Ratner Companies to develop a corporate co-location building, a first for the school. The building will allow various companies to operate within the same vicinity of each other, start-ups and more established companies alike. Cornell also has an ambitious goal to create a campus that uses as much energy as it makes via green technology. The campus is scheduled to open in 2017 with the full site being completed in 2037. The tech campus is aimed at helping New York overtake Silicon Valley as the nation’s leading tech hub, something that the Brooklyn Tech Triangle coalition deemed a possibility in its recent strategic plan.

Cybersecurity has emerged as a major issue as citizens face threats from malicious software and hackers. The Internet has provided an opportunity for criminals to engage in identity theft and fraud. President Barack Obama this year signed an executive order to deter potential attacks and bolster cybersecurity. The order allows more sharing of information between the government and private sector industries. Closer to home, Gov. Andrew Cuomo formed a Cyber Security Advisory Board—which includes Richard Clarke, White House antiterrorism aide to the three previous presidents, and Elizabeth Glazer, deputy secretary for public safety—that the governor said will defend New Yorkers from cyberattacks “just as we protect against crime on our streets.”

Mayoral Race
The New York City mayoral hopefuls have weighed in on their visions for New York’s tech sector if they take the reins of the city when Jan. 1 rolls around. Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s lofty goals include ensuring that New York become the most wired city in the nation by 2018, with everyone in the five boroughs having access to broadband Internet. She’s also keen on the idea of opening a tech campus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and wants more computer science courses offered and textbooks phased out for tablets. City Comptroller John Liu plans to whip the cable companies into shape and performing up to expectations, after several blackouts have soured New Yorkers on them. He also has called for a revamping of the city’s 911 emergency system.


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