In the face of Hurricane Irene, New York City's website was overwhelmed by residents checking whether they were required to evacuate their neighborhood, and what to do next. Fortunately, New York City had opened its data. Its flood zone maps were copied and available from other sources on the web. Twitter pitched in to distribute important warnings.
Rachel Sterne heads the City of New York's digital efforts, in which the city works to "democratize" city information with initiatives such as matching disadvantaged sixth-graders and their families with technology, providing WiFi in parks and libraries, creating on-line FAQs to provide general and specific to questions typically answered in most municipalities one-by-one, by phone.
NYC tries to broaden its reach and ease access, by opening up the data to other entities, as well as offering it by the best means that can be thought of. To that end, the city had an apps competition, and the results are working today.
This digital department smoothes the way for inter-agency collaboration for services offered in the city, and the delivery of information, from Department of Transportation issues to condom-distribution information provided on Facebook, to the public.
Rachel Sterne is Chief Digital Officer for the City of New York, where she focuses on improving the way that City government engages New Yorkers through technology. Her first task in the role was the development of a “Road Map for the Digital City,” a comprehensive plan to realize New York City’s digital potential through enhanced Access, Open Government, Engagement, and Industry.
Prior to this position, Rachel was Founder and CEO of GroundReport, a citizen journalism platform that empowers reporters to publish original, intelligent reporting for an international audience. She founded GroundReport in 2006 with the mission to democratize the media and help the world share its stories. Rachel is also an Adjunct Professor at Columbia Business School, and previously worked as a digital strategy consultant and business developer in the software industry.
This free podcast is from our Web 2.0 Conference series.