Technology Updates

Press Coverage
West Side Spirit
Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Low-income seniors and families now have access to high-speed internet service for less than 15 dollars per month through a new program available to customers of Charter Communications, the cable giant that acquired Time Warner Cable last year and offers broadband service in New York through its Spectrum brand.

“Over a million New Yorkers will have access to low-cost broadband” through the Spectrum Internet Assist program, City Council Member Ben Kallos said at an event announcing the initiative at Stanley M. Isaacs Neighborhood Center on East 93rd Street last week.

“This new service will ensure internet access is no longer a luxury that goes to the few, but is rather treated as a basic necessity in the 21st Century,” said New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

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Press Coverage
New York Daily News
Thursday, March 16, 2017

State regulators gave the Connecticut-based communication company permission last year to buy Time Warner Cable on the condition that it upgrade broadband speeds and expand high-speed Web service to low-income consumers.

City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan) and Public Advocate Letitia James supported the sale conditions.

“Access to affordable high-speed internet should not be a luxury reserved for few — it is increasingly important for everyone to have access in today’s society," James said in a statement.

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Press Coverage
Media Post
Tuesday, February 21, 2017

“Look out Silicon Valley, here comes Silicon Alley, supported by a city government that is providing the funding, space, and data the tech sector needs to thrive,” stated New York City Council Member Ben Kallos.

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Press Coverage
The Real Deal
Thursday, October 27, 2016

“Uber engages with regulators and complies with regulation,” City Council member Ben Kallos said. “And Airbnb does whatever it wants in violation of the law.”

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Press Release
Thursday, October 13, 2016

HHS and Intuit Release App to Fight Poverty Nationwide

Federal Government to host Intuit Benefit Assist as a free, open source Tool to Help More Americans

 Washington, D.C. – Oct. 13, 2016 – Approximately one in six Americans do not have enough money for food or other essential needs and they often miss out on income-based government benefits such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)/Food Stamps or free mobile phone service.  To make it easier for Americans to determine eligibility and apply for these benefits, Intuit Inc. (Nasdaq: INTU), through a collaboration with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos, is releasing to the Federal Government its Benefit Assist software as free, open source code on GitHub with a demonstration. Now anyone, whether state government, non-profit or a developer, can freely use, share and improve upon Benefit Assist to help Americans in find and use these valuable benefits.

States will be able to save money using Benefit Assist to collectively build and improve on the software to reduce overhead, potentially saving our nation billions.

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Press Coverage
Politico
Saturday, October 15, 2016

An online tool from tax preparation company Intuit that can easily determine whether an application is eligible for food stamps or other benefits is now freely available through a federal agency to states, local governments or nonprofit organizations.

Councilman Ben Kallos has been pushing for legislation that would require the city to use income tax filings to determine eligibility for public benefits.

Last year, Intuit made the Benefit Assist tool available to help users of TurboTax determine whether they were eligible for an array of programs, including SNAP, Medicaid, Medicare and many others.

 

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Press Coverage
Politico
Friday, September 2, 2016

The Mayor's Office of Data Analytics and Councilman Ben Kallos are seeking feedback on proposed geospatial open data standardsbeginning Friday.

The proposed standards follow fromlegislationintroduced by Kallos and signed into law last year to improve on the city's open data law. It mandates the establishment of a technical standard that requires every public data set containing address information to utilize a standard layout. The law states that if there is a dataset for which an agency cannot use such a layout, the agency must provide the city and the Council with the reasons preventing it from doing so and a date by which it will be able to comply.

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"Our goal is to make government location-aware and the best way to do that is to standardize geographic information across of all our datasets, so that folks can just throw it on a map easily," Kallos said.

 

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Press Coverage
Law.com

“The law hamstrings case law over and over again, and sometimes that law goes against what everyone wants,” Kallos added.

But he admitted that elected officials are restricted in what they can achieve in office. “Everyone from the city council member to the U.S. president” is faced with the same problem: “wherever you go, somehow you don’t have the power,” he said.

“We’ve got a democratic government, and it’s broken in a lot of different ways,” Kallos warned, adding that one pivotal challenge is that “a lot of people aren’t really engaging most of the time, and what ends up happening is we’re not included in the decision-making process. … Democracy actually requires, and in many places demands, public input.”

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Press Release
Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Currently members of the public usually must show up at day time public hearings at City Hall or 250 Broadway that can last hours with public testimony often limited to only two minutes thereby limiting input and engagement in the legislative process from the public.
 
“New Yorkers should be able to ‘like’ and comment on City Council legislation to make civic engagement as easy as Facebook,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee of Governmental Operations. “Government must engage residents where they are in the way they want to engage, which means updating our legislative rules so people can engage online.”
 

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Press Coverage
Politico
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The city has begun publishing detailed budget data on its open data portal, not long after Councilman Ben Kallos introduced legislation that would require making the budget information accessible in a format that is searchable and accessible to third-party applications.

As chair of the Committee on Government Operations, Kallos oversees the Financial Information Services Agency, which operates the software that manages the city budget. He was able to confirm with FISA that its software can easily make the budget available in an open format.

The mayor's Office of Management and Budget has worked with Kallos and Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, chair of the Finance Committee, to make several key budget documents available in searchable format on the open data portal, rather than just PDF formats.

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Press Coverage
Politico
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The city has begun publishing detailed budget data on its open data portal, not long after Councilman Ben Kallos introducedlegislation that would require making the budget information accessible in a format that is searchable and accessible to third-party applications.

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Press Coverage
Politico
Monday, May 9, 2016

According to the playbook site, the city took input from residents, as well as several civic and technology leaders, elected and city government officials and providers, along with examples from other governments and the private sector.

The playbook specifically credits City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, and Councilmembers Ben Kallos, James Vacca, Brad Lander, Vanessa Gibson and Helen Rosenthal. It also credits the organizations Bangladesh-American Community Council, the Brite Leadership Coalition, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, the Central Family Life Center, Adhikaar, Make the Road NY and MASA.

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Press Release
Thursday, May 5, 2016

 New York, NY – How New York City spends $82 billion is about to get more transparent, with a city budget that is searchable and computer readable instead of printed or in lengthy PDFs, through legislation from Council Member Ben Kallos that would require the budget to be searchable, posted in open formats, and available for third parties to “build an app for that.”
 
“New Yorkers should be able to search the city’s budget to see how every penny of their tax dollars is being spent,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, a software developer and open data advocate. “Thank you to Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and Finance Chair Julissa Ferreras-Copeland, for their partnership in advocacy for an Open Budget.”

 

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Press Coverage
Gotham Gazette
Sunday, April 10, 2016

City Council Member Ben Kallos, a software developer and long-time advocate for government transparency who now chairs the Council’s governmental operations committee, agrees that free trainings should be offered for New Yorkers interested in learning how to use the open data portal. He suggests partnering with the city’s three public library systems (New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library and Queens Public Library) to train librarians who can teach patrons to use the open data portal as a research resource. Featuring the open data portal on library websites and other logical online research centers would be helpful in expanding usership and public awareness.

Kallos acknowledged that New Yorkers must have basic access in order to use the open data portal.

“I want to make sure that every low-income New Yorker has access to free and affordable broadband and low-cost computers. That would mean everyone in NYCHA should have free broadband and that anyone who is low-income should have an affordable internet plan,” Kallos told Gotham Gazette. “In order to have a modern government, we need to make sure that everyone can connect.”

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Press Coverage
DNAinfo.com
Wednesday, April 6, 2016

LinkNYC, which rolled out in January with the installation of kiosks along Third Avenue in Gramercy, the East Village and the Upper East Side, is eventually intended to grow into a citywide network, with as many as 10,000 kiosks, officials said.

Reps from CityBridge, city officials and Councilman Ben Kallos celebrated the official start to the LinkNYC Project on Tuesday.

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Press Coverage
Manhattan Express
Tuesday, April 5, 2016

“Something had to be done about the city’s payphone booths that were often missing the phones,” said City Councilmember Ben Kallos, an East Side Democrat who has been advocating for payphone reform since 2013. “Fast forward to today in 2016. We now have access to free Wi-Fi… at no cost to taxpayers.”

Kallos added that LinkNYC’s free services would provide the city with an annual $20 million in advertising revenue, through the franchising agreement established with CityBridge, which manages the program.

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Press Release
Friday, April 1, 2016

“Uncertainty of outcomes is one the biggest challenges to governing, but through time travel we could see the immediate results of our public policy and make changes where necessary,” said Council Member Ben Kallos, Chair of the Committee of Governmental Operations with oversight over the Department of Citywide Administrative Services whose fleet could one day include a time machine. “Investment of tax dollars into time travel, will provide an infinite return on investment as we are able to avoid calamity by altering our time line. So long as we do not create a portal to the alternate timelines we destroy, we should all be fine.”

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Press Coverage
Politico
Friday, April 1, 2016

BEN KALLOS: "Time Travel to Save City Quadrillion Dollars." "Investment of tax dollars into time travel, will provide an infinite return on investment as we are able to avoid calamity be altering our time line. So long as we do not create a portal to the alternate timelines we destroy, we should all be fine." SEE THE STATEMENT: http://benkallos.com/press-release/time-travel-study-legislation-drafting-and-passage-announced-council-member-ben-kallos

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Press Coverage
Politico
Friday, March 11, 2016

He saw potential for Technology Development Corporation, the nonprofit corporation set up in 2012 under Bloomberg to oversee major technology projects, where he last worked, to evolve into something like the federal government's 18F. Its websitedocuments credit the agency with key involvement in the Pre-K for All outreach system and IDNYC.

He said, he felt however, that nobody "understand[s] the potential value of the TDC well enough."

Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal invoked a possible role for the Technology Development Corporation at a recent Council hearing considering two bills introduced by Councilman Ben Kallos aimed at pushing the administration to embrace open-source software,  which the Independent Budget Office estimates could eventually save $25 million. An 18F employee was among those testifying in favor.

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Press Coverage
Politico
Thursday, February 25, 2016

City film permitting data will soon be available on the open data portal, a spokeswoman for the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment said Thursday.

Associate commissioner Connie Ress' statement came a day after WNYC published anarticle and map of TV shoots across the city from November 2011 to July 2015 using data from the administration in response to a FOIL request. WNYC also published the underlying data to the programming platform Github, including data for feature film and news show permits.

Councilman Ben Kallos had also introduced aseparate bill on behalf of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer that would require production permits to be made available online and searchable by community board district.

Last April, Reinvent Albany and other groups wrote a letter to the city again requesting the publication of the film shoots data on the portal, citing significant interest from hearing attendees in having more advance notice and in the data.

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Press Coverage
Capital New York
Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"We need the internet as a collective .... to come out, advocate, let the mayor, let the Council .... know that this is something they want to see the city lead the nation on," Kallos said after the hearing.

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Press Coverage
Our Town
Tuesday, January 12, 2016

East side councilmember wants to meet every person in the district

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