Streams

Like NYC.GOV? City Hopes You'll Like It Better on Facebook

Monday, May 16, 2011

WNYC
Mayor Bloomberg and Rachel Sterne in the City Hall Bullpen (Spencer T. Tucker/Office of the Mayor)

City officials are hoping to partner with social media companies like Facebook and Foursquare to improve the city’s engagement with New Yorkers on the Internet.

That was one of the goals of the city's new digital strategy announced Monday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the city’s Chief Digital Officer Rachel Sterne. Others included Internet access for all New Yorkers, making government information and services more transparent and promoting the digital media industry in New York City.

“The state of our digital city is very strong,” said Sterne, who was appointed to the newly created position in January. “But there’s always more that we can do.”

Officials say the city is partnering with Facebook to launch a streamlined Facebook page that will share features with nyc.gov, conduct polls and eventually link to 311, the city’s portal for government information and services. The launch is expected to take place in the in the next 45 days.

Other partnerships the city announced will roll out over over the next three months include: an @nycgov Twitter account to give residents real-time updates on city news and services; digital “check ins” at public spaces using Foursquare; working with Tumblr to establish pages and digital training for city agencies.

The city will also work to overhaul its official Web site, nyc.gov, over the next 18 months. The mayor said the city will hold a weekend-long “hackathon” in which Web designers and developers will be invited to create prototypes for nyc.gov. And Sterne said the city is also planning to pursue the .nyc domain and is establishing a vendor for that effort.

In rolling out this “Road Map for the Digital City,” as officials are calling the plan, Bloomberg and Sterne also demonstrated remote streaming technology that will allow officials to broadcast live from anywhere in the city to television networks, Web sites and mobile devices. Striking a light, sketch-comedy tone, the two appeared on a flat TV screen in the Blue Room, where reporters waited for the announcement, via a live video stream from the City Hall offices known as 'the bullpen.'

But the goals set by the road map are not all fun and games. The number one digital request the city heard from New Yorkers was for more public Wi-Fi and broader Internet access. Mayor Bloomberg conceded that the city just doesn’t have the money to create a citywide Wi-Fi network.

“It’s like cable TV, we just cannot make it available every place,” said Bloomberg, adding that there are companies out there with networks that help fill in the gaps.

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