New York CIty Council Member Ben Kallos

Government Technology

Government Technology New York City Demystifies Social Service Benefits Screening by ZACK QUAINTANCE

New York City Demystifies Social Service Benefits Screening

Building Access NYC in a way to eventually make it accessible to others who are working towards similar goals was a logical addition, according to Hia. Key to this was also continued support from elected officials in New York City.

Council Member Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, was a major proponent of the project. Kallos is also a software developer, and he has previously worked on projects with similar goals, including eatfresh.org, which provides healthy recipes to users who are on a budget. Kallos introduced Local Law 60 in 2018, which spurred the city to consider how tech and data could advance access to benefits there.

Kallos said the API is going to be a way for private-sector innovators to avoid having to understand and navigate bureaucracy. Instead, they will be able to focus on creating a new digital means of using data and applications for other services to screen individuals and ultimately determine if they are eligible for benefits they aren’t receiving.

“Now that New York City has finally done the right thing by making its benefits available through an API, the challenge now comes to the private sector for how we can work together to finally end hunger and poverty in New York City,” said Kallos.

Government Technology NYC to Set Up Real-Time Monitoring for Service Availability of Public Wi-Fi and Phone Call Kiosks by Theo Douglas

NYC to Set Up Real-Time Monitoring for Service Availability of Public Wi-Fi and Phone Call Kiosks

Ben Kallos, a software developer who championed then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “Reinvent Payphones” initiative in 2013, noticed some kiosks in his district were partially out of order, and offered Wi-Fi but not free calls.

Government Technology New York City Politicians May Have to Read Your Online Comments by Staff

New York City Politicians May Have to Read Your Online Comments

"People want to be able to send a tweet saying they're in favor of a bill or opposed to a bill or think a bill needs to [be] changed in a certain way and have that be in the official record," Kallos, chair of the city's Governmental Operations Committee, told Fast Co.

Government Technology How Crowdsourcing, Ride-Hailing Apps Are Reshaping NYC by Brian Heaton

How Crowdsourcing, Ride-Hailing Apps Are Reshaping NYC

Since taking office on Jan. 1, 2014, New York City Council Member Ben Kallos has made it a priority to introduce legislation that uses technology to overcome issues in the Big Apple.

From requiring New York City laws to be easily accessible online, to improving the transparency of government operations, Kallos -- who represents NYC's Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island -- has leveraged his background as a software developer to illustrate the value of tech use in the public sector.

Government Technology spoke to Kallos about the strides he’s made during his first year in office, and how technology will continue to play a vital part of his legislative agenda in 2015 and beyond.

Government Technology Can’t Find Your Car? NYC Wants an App for That by Brian Heaton

Can’t Find Your Car? NYC Wants an App for That

If you’ve ever spent a lot of time in a big city, chances are you or someone you know has had a car towed and couldn’t easily find it. It’s a problem in the Big Apple, and New York City Council Member Ben Kallos is trying to do something about it.

Kallos, who represents Gotham’s Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, has introduced legislation that enables owners of cars towed due to emergencies or temporary parking restrictions to be able to find where their vehicle is through an online application or by 311. Tracking is currently only available for cars taken to impound lots because of standard parking violations.

Government Technology NYC Improves Online Access to City Laws, Procurement Notices by Brian Heaton

NYC Improves Online Access to City Laws, Procurement Notices

Keeping tabs on municipal business and city laws just got a lot easier in the Big Apple.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has signed two bills that improve government transparency. The first, Introductory 363-A, requires online posting of the City Record – NYC’s daily list of procurement notices, bid solicitations and awards – within 24 hours of the print edition publishing. The second, Introductory 149-A, mandates that New York City laws and its Charter be published on the Web. Any changes to the rules must be updated online within 30 days.

Int. 149 has a number of benefits for both residents and city staff. While the city’s laws are currently online, they are hard to locate and are only updated twice a year, according to Int. 149 co-sponsor Council Member Ben Kallos.

Government Technology Is Crowdsourcing the Future for Legislation? by Brian Heaton

Is Crowdsourcing the Future for Legislation?

New York City Council Member Ben Kallos has a plethora of technology-related legislation being considered in the Big Apple. Many of the bills are open for public comment and editing on GitHub. In an interview withGovernment Technology last month, Kallos said he believes using crowdsourcing to comment on and edit legislation is empowering and creates a different sense of democracy where people can put forward their ideas

Government Technology NYC Council Members Want Better Access to City Laws by Brian Heaton

NYC Council Members Want Better Access to City Laws

Having a municipality’s laws online and easily available would seem to be a common first step for cities concerned with improving transparency. But Kallos said the issue of laws being inaccessible is more common in the U.S. than most people realize.

Kallos felt it has taken a long time for cities to address the issue, perhaps due to the revenue generated from selling publication of the laws to private companies.

“In my few months so far in office, I’ve stumbled across numerous places where the laws aren’t necessarily there to protect or serve the public, but a subset of the public,” Kallos said. “Often a special or corporate interest. And the legal publishing industry is huge.”

Looking ahead, Kallos noted that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Administration was “incredibly friendly” to what Int. 149 was trying to achieve, and was confident that the ideals in the legislation will at some point get codified and serve as a model for the country.

Government Technology Will New York City Embrace Open Source Code? by Brian Heaton

Will New York City Embrace Open Source Code?

New York City is on the cusp of a complete overhaul on how software is purchased and distributed by public agencies in the Big Apple.

Benjamin Kallos, a council member representing Gotham’s Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, has authored legislation that mandates a preference for using free and open source software and computer code for city IT projects. Another bill establishes a code-sharing portal for agencies to share that open source software with each other.

On May 29, Int. 366, the Free and Open Source Software Act (FOSSA), and Int. 365, the Civic Commons Act, were introduced, and are open for public comment and amendment. They are part of an extensive package of technology billsfrom Kallos, who is a software developer.