Actually, until she got married last month, Rachel Haot was Rachel Sterne.
In January 2011, Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her the city's first Digital Officer.
The 29 year old is the founder and former CEO of the global news platform Ground Report. She has her current boss’ confidence to lead the administration on one of his pet issues: dragging city government, and the way it interacts with its citizens, into the 21st century.
Bloomberg and Haot are often spotted at public events unveiling new city-related apps or programs to boost tech jobs in the five boroughs. Though the job of luring companies here really falls to the city’s Economic Development Corporation, Haot has the mayor’s ear and personifies his mission.
Technically (no pun intended), Rachael Haot and NYC Digital are part of the Mayor's Office of Media and Entertainment. It's a small office, with big thinkers rather than people who are figuring out which buildings need better broadband. Her job is big picture — to think of and implement digital ways to make New Yorkers' lives and their city more high-tech: whether it's trying to put Wi-Fi in the your local park, posting your neighborhood’s flood risk online, or offering classes to figure out if your business could benefit from being on Facebook.
Haot and Mayor Bloomberg recently updated their Digital Roadmap, a long list of goals that are, they say, setting our city on a digitized path to the future. This week on WNYC's New Tech City, I sat down with Rachel Haot and tried to break down the Roadmap to understand two things:
1. How the Bloomberg administration is trying to redefine the relationship between the government and the private sector by working with them to create new city programs.
2. How the city is opening up (most of) its raw data to the public and tech-savvy people who are good at transforming that data into apps and digital tools that you and I will actually use.
Haot has her talking points down pat and is impressive.