There are 27 cities bigger than New York City and 86 cities over 3 million people in the world. Many of these places are discovering and developing municipal management best practices. We should be working actively and openly to understand and improve upon these globally significant best practices and building a culture of excellence within NYC government to strive to best the best in the world.
Thanks to the city’s innovative open data law, city agencies are publishing a tremendous amount of information to the city’s open data portal, but finding the right information can get a little tricky. Professional researchers and large businesses have the resources needed to make sense of city data, but smaller businesses, journalists and the vast majority of residents often do not.
That’s why we need to create easy-to-use software applications that give context to the city’s data and enable the public to generate their own insights about how to best improve the city.
In 2017 New Yorkers voted overwhelmingly to establish a “Civic Engagement Commission” (CEC) to “enhance civic participation” with a mandate to support Community Boards and expand Participatory Budgeting city-wide.
To achieve these goals, New York City should look to the impressive work being done around the world where participatory democracy isn’t just a catchphrase – but a way of life.
New York City’s bureaucracies were designed in an era of telegrams, switchboards and printed memos. They need an upgrade — and the best way to give them one is by helping city agencies build their own Digital Service Organizations.
Digital Service Organizations (DSOs) are a new type of group organized within government agencies. These groups use open source technology and agile production techniques to bring government services, and the bureaucracies that provide them, into the modern era.