NEW YORK—In January, New York Tech Meetup (NYTM) issued a seven point policy suggestion to mayoral candidates, offering suggestions to help nurture the flourishing tech industry in New York City.
Democratic candidate City Council Speaker Christine Quinn was the first in the field to comprehensively answer.
On May 29 Quinn laid out her ambitious vision for the tech industry at the offices of General Assembly, a company that provides technology education and co-working space in the Flatiron district.
“The line between tech companies and non tech companies is disappearing right in front of our eyes,” Quinn said. “Every company is using technology in some way.”
The mayoral hopeful spent nearly 40 minutes dishing out ideas, which followed the basic outline of the NYTM plan issued in January.
Quinn vowed to make New York City the most wired city in the United States by 2018. “Let’s be honest, this is an ambitious goal,” Quinn said. “But if you don’t put out ambitious goals, I can guarantee you will never meet them.”
Quinn said she would appoint a Commission on 5-Borough Connectivity to help speed up the process of getting access to everyone in all five boroughs.
Andrew Rasiej, who ran for public advocate in the last election with a vision for getting New York City wired, was not deterred by the five-year lag time.
“The reality is it takes time to make New York the most wired city in the world, so I will take 2018,” Rasiej said. “The fact that a candidate for mayor is actually declaring they want to make New York the most wired city is great news.”
Dawn Barber, founder of NYTM, said, “I think it is a necessary goal, not just for the tech community, but for the city and ultimately the world.”
In January, NYTM suggested creating a Deputy Mayor for Technology Innovation to “reinvent New York City government with a 21st century framework.” Quinn promised an Office of Innovation as well as a Chief Innovation Officer. The new agency has a slightly different name, however, the goal will be the same.
As revealed in her education policy speech, Quinn continues to support tablets to replace textbooks. “The City spends $100 million on textbooks every year,” Quinn said. “Why can’t we spend $100 million on tablets?”
In addition to traditional education, Quinn wants to see more coding and computer science initiatives offered, including free summer tech trainings created through industry partnership. Barber, who has advocated for coding classes at younger ages, liked the idea, but said it would be easier said than done.
“It is a challenge, but something we have to strive for. We have to get code in schools, public schools in particular.”
Quinn’s final big commitment for her tech vision was to open a new tech campus at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that will offer advance manufacturing training programs. Quinn said she has been in talks with CUNY to make it happen in the near future.
Quinn’s tech vision was ambitious, as she herself said, and she cautioned not everything would happen overnight. But her commitment to the New Yorkers to get, at the very least, faster internet, was hopeful.
“The leading candidate for mayor is recognizing that technology industry isn’t just a constituency, but rather a community that can help transform all of New York into a 21st century city,” Rasiej said.