Capital New York City tech leadership touts conference as feedback opportunity by Miranda Neubauer
The city's technology leadership officials are promoting a tech event today as an opportunity to get feedback from the civic technology community.
This year's Personal Democracy Conference encourages participants to think about the city's innovation and broadband agenda with a view toward "NYC 2025."
Founded by Andrew Rasiej and Micah Sifry, who launched the civic technology hub Civic Hall earlier this year in the Flatiron District, the conference focused on the intersection between politics and technology is in its twelfth year.
"Innovation, by its very definition, doesn’t happen in a bubble," said the de Blasio administration's chief technology officer Minerva Tantoco, in a statement. "It requires ideas from inside and outside government – and there’s no better place to work with mission-driven technologists than at events like this."
Tantoco will be participating in the workshop at N.Y.U.'s Kimmel Center along with Jeff Merritt, director of innovation at the Mayor's Office of Tech and Innovation and Jessica Singleton, now the chief digital officer for the city.
In 2009, Mayor Michael Bloomberg delivered a keynote address at the conference via Skype to announce the launch of the BigApps competition, an online platform for 311 as well as 311 Skype and Twitter accounts.
In 2012, then-public advocate Bill de Blasio and his office attended a hackathon associated with the conference where a team that included Merritt and Dominic Mauro, now staff attorney at Reinvent Albany, won second place in developing a prototype for OpenUp NYC, an online platform for requesting public records. That prototype has now served as the basis for the Open FOIL platform that the city is in the process of rolling out, according to city officials.
In 2013, then-comptroller John Liu announced that the city's Checkbook NYC Platform would be available to other cities as an open-source tool, while then-city chief digital officer Rachel Haot participated in panel discussions on digital governmnet in 2011 and 2013.
Last year, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Councilman Ben Kallos discussed with conference participants how to engage the technology constituency and procurement challenges for start-ups during a town-hall type workshop session.
Coming on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement at Techcrunch Disrupt of $70 million in broadband investment as part of the administration's OneNYC's goals, city officials see the workshop as an opportunity to convene a "unique audience of mission-driven technologists."
More specifically, officials say they hope the session will bring up ideas that the administration can implement, while encouraging participants to respond to the city's call for broadband innovation, which closes June 30.
On a separate panel, sponsored by Accela, a civic platform company, chief analytics officer Amen Ra Mashariki will discuss "Speedbumps on the Road to Government as a Platform."
On Friday, Brewer will open the afternoon session of the main conference hall with welcoming remarks, before New York Public Library president Anthony Marx speaks on the "Public Library as Civic Hub in the Digital Age."
Earlier in the afternoon, Councilman Ben Kallos will participate in a panel on "Designing the Digital Legislature" along with Seamus Kraft, executive director of the OpenGov Foundation, a co-creator of the Free Law Founders with Kallos, and David Moore, executive director of the Participatory Politics Foundation.
Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law professor and former candidate for governor who is now encouraging teachers to run for office, will close out the conference on Friday with a talk on "The Politics of Joy." She is also participating in a panel discussion on Internet political power earlier in the day, while her running mate, Columbia Law professor Tim Wu, is on a panel sponsored by the New America Foundation on "Reinventing the Thinktank."
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Republican from Washington, will speak on "Imagining the Congress of the Future" on Friday morning. Another panel discussion will look at how civic technology is changing elections coverage, with panelists including Washington Posteditorial board member Jonathan Capehart and New York Times journalist Derek Willis, who recently spoke to Capital about how city Board of Election data improvements aid journalistic work.
Politico's Nancy Scola is moderating a panel on "Cooperative Alternatives to the Sharing Economy" and is a member of another panel on digital inclusion sponsored by Mozilla.
Rasiej was an early investor in Capital New York.