Tuesday, January 03, 2012
Mayors of both Chicago and New York said Tuesday they'd be making the locations of snow plows public during winter storms via public websites that will show GPS tracking information.
While the idea of a snowplow tracker isn't new -- it exists in Montgomery County and Howard County, Maryland, just to name a couple -- New York and Chicago would be the first major cities to deploy this technology.
Mayor Bloomberg hit once of the lowest moments of his mayoralty last winter when New York ground to a halt during the blizzard of 2010. It was particularly frustrating for outer-borough residents when streets outside of Manhattan went unplowed for days (while the Mayor recommended they take in a Broadway show.)
Also galling: city officials were increasingly unable to tell members of the public (or even elected officials) when streets would be cleared.
In an information vacuum, WNYC developed a plowed street tracker, based on crowd-sourced information. Later, Mayor Bloomberg promised to add GPS to all snow plows. But that information wasn't made available to the public. Yet.
Enter Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who wasn't even in office last winter), a notorious type-A techno-geek, announced with some fanfare Tuesday that city would set up a Plow Tracker. "During major snow cleanup efforts," according to a press release, " the City will activate the real-time 'Plow Tracker' map, allowing the public to track the progress of City snow plows and make snow removal efforts more transparent."
Looks like Emanuel may have upstaged Bloomberg (himself something of a type A techno-geek)
Asked at a press conference (on an unrelated subject) Tuesday whether New York would be making snow plow location information available on a public website, Mayor Bloomberg said:
"Yeah, we have a whole plan we'll get you very quickly. We've been enhancing what we do. I don't know that it necessarily improves our ability to plow. We have the routes and we're gonna do it, but it does let you see where plows went and when they went there, and that's all. Our best thing so far is my strategy so far. Look outside - streets are clean, no snow."
While Chicago's website is now live (www.cityshovels.org), New York City officials cautioned that it's not yet clear what the New York website will look like, or when it will be up and running.
Thursday, August 04, 2011
UPDATED with analysis: Stephen Goldsmith, the Deputy Mayor who oversees the NYC DOT, is leaving after just over a year on the job. Goldsmith will be pursuing unnamed "private-sector opportunities in infrastructure finance."
Goldsmith, the former Republican Mayor of Indianapolis, was always seen as an ideas man, someone who could help the city think its way through problems like how to deliver services more cheaply. Goldsmith tended to chew on -- and address -- problems like back-office duplication, how much the city spends on gasoline, and whether the threat of increased fees could prompt people to recycle, save water, or leave their cars at home.
But the Deputy Mayor for Operations is also responsible for things like garbage pick-up and Goldsmith never seemed to easily slip into that role, unlike his predecessor, Ed Skylar, whoalways seemed to have his fingers on the trigger of his blackberry when it came to operating the city.
Under Goldsmith's watch there was a scaling-back of some Bloomberg transportation initiatives, like protected bike lanes that were to run all the way up First and Second Avenue to Harlem (which Goldsmith addressed in a interview with us here) and a true, physically-segregated Bus Rapid Transit on 34th street. The bikes now stop in midtown, and the BRT won't be built.
To be sure, Mayor Michael Bloomberg has received strong push-back on his transportation initiatives during the period when Goldsmith was Deputy Mayor, and its possible those projects would have been curtailed no matter which Deputy Mayor was overseeing them.
Any criticism the Mayor received about bike lanes (which remain extremely popular) paled compared to what the Mayor heard after mishandling of a December blizzard left buses stranded and streets unplowed for days, responsibilities that had been part of Goldsmith's portfolio. Both men were out of town as the blizzard began.
Goldsmith is being succeeded by Caswell Holloway, the Commissioner of the City Department of Environmental Protection
Here's the press release from NYC City Hall.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today appointed Caswell F. Holloway, who has served as the City’s Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection since 2010, Deputy Mayor for Operations. Holloway replaces Stephen Goldsmith, who is leaving to pursue private-sector opportunities in infrastructure finance.
“As New Yorkers, we were extraordinarily lucky to have Steve Goldsmith make our City government more innovative and efficient,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Just as he did at DEP, Cas Holloway is going to jump right in, and build on everything that Steve has been able to accomplish and continue the progress he has made in reforming our government and making it work better.”
“This week, I informed the Mayor of my decision to resign my job as Deputy Mayor of Operations,” said Deputy Mayor Goldsmith. “This job has been a special opportunity to contribute to the City of New York and further the substantial accomplishments of Mayor Bloomberg. I am proud of the work we have done over the last year to pass an aggressive budget, and put in place the foundation and plans for dozens of initiatives and best practices that will dramatically further customer service and cost savings in the City. Over the last month, I received important overtures in an area with which I have long been associated – infrastructure finance.
“After thirty years of long hours in public service, the change will provide me, at age 64, with more flexibility for me and my family and a secure foundation for our future. In addition, I intend to continue my academic work and the school year is about to start. Now that we have the ball rolling on our initiatives, I am comfortable that the person taking over for me will do an exceptional job moving things forward. Cas is not just a colleague, but a friend and a person who I trust to take over for me, and whose talents are among the most exceptional I have seen in my public career. He has developed a career in New York, and will accelerate the agenda and build on the progress we have made. It has been a unique honor to be part of the high performing Bloomberg team. City Hall and the agencies are truly alive with the spirit of service and innovation.”
“I am proud of everything we have done at DEP to advance Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to strengthen our infrastructure, protect our world-renowned drinking water, and make New York City a model for new sustainability approaches, like green infrastructure,” said Deputy Mayor Holloway. “I’m thrilled and honored at the opportunity to come back to City Hall and work even more closely with Mayor Bloomberg on the issues that are so important to the daily lives of New Yorkers. Building on the foundation Steve Goldsmith has built, we will continue to transform City services to ensure that government is doing all it can to work efficiently and effectively for the millions of people who live and work in New York City.”
As Deputy Mayor for Operations, Stephen Goldsmith spearheaded the creation of Mayor Bloomberg’s “NYC Simplicity” agenda, which seeks to transform New York City government to make it more customer-focused, innovative and efficient. As part of NYC Simplicity, Goldsmith launched the City’s shared services initiative, which will save the City $500 million by 2013 through the consolidation of back-office operations such as fleet, real estate and information technology. He developed new programs to improve customer service, such as “Get It Done. Together,” in which the Department of Buildings consolidated approvals and extended hours of operation to speed the approval process, as well as the NYC Business Acceleration team, which will create true one-stop shopping and coordinated inspections for small business owners.
Under Deputy Mayor Goldsmith, the City created new methods to interact with the public and its employees, including “Change By Us” – the City’s new online platform that will enable New Yorkers to team up to transform their own communities. Goldsmith oversaw the development of the update to PlaNYC, including the creation of the City’s Clean Heat program, which will eliminate the use of the most polluting grade of heating oil – No. 6 fuel oil – in the city and accelerate the deployment of new natural gas infrastructure. Goldsmith also was tasked with piloting some of the City’s most complex technology projects.
He also took the reins of CityTime, the City’s automated payroll system, which has now been successfully deployed to nearly the entire targeted workforce. Similarly, Goldsmith created the City’s Office of Emergency Communications, which has made significant strides in implementing the City’s Emergency Communications Transformation Project and reduced the cost of the construction of the City’s Public Safety Answering Center in Bronx by more than $100 million.
As Commissioner, Cas Holloway has significantly cut costs at DEP while improving customer service, reduced planned water rate increases to their lowest levels in years, developed a ground-breaking green infrastructure plan to capture rain water, reduce sewer overflows and save the City $2 billion over 20 years and he ended 15 year-old labor disputes that were hampering the city’s ability to conduct operations effectively.
Prior to serving as DEP Commissioner, Holloway served as Chief of Staff to Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler and as Special Advisor to Mayor Bloomberg. Holloway took a leading role in the writing and implementation of the Administration’s report on the health impacts of September 11th and led negotiations on 9/11 health legislation that was signed by President Obama. Following the tragic fire at 130 Liberty Street, he led a comprehensive review of abatement and demolition operations that resulted in an overhaul of the asbestos abatement process. He also played a lead role in developing the City’s comprehensive cleanup plan for the Gowanus Canal, and in the passage and implementation of the City’s Solid Waste Management Plan.
Deputy Mayor Holloway graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard College and graduated with honors from University of Chicago Law School. Prior to joining the Mayor’s Office, Deputy Mayor Holloway was an associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP and Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and served as law clerk to Judge Dennis G. Jacobs, now Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Prior to Law School, Deputy Mayor Holloway also served as Chief of Staff at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. He lives in Brooklyn Heights with his wife, Jessica.