Opinion- Why did the NYC Comptroller launch a 311 app?

For the last two weeks, I’ve been struggling to understand why NYC’s comptroller launched an app called “NYC 311+, The Big Apple’s best 311 App” that has no direct connection to NYC’s 311 infrastructure. The City’s comptroller claims this app is better because it is “social” and is available in “more” languages. Yet, it misses out on several critical features of NYC’s 311 system – #1, a voice interface – #2, an SMS interface – #3 holistic integration with NYC’s 311 service…

Yesterday, the City’s Comptroller published an Opinion piece in the Brooklyn Eagle

Once a review is submitted, NYC 311 forwards it to the City agency or authority responsible for oversight and maintenance. A subway review gets seen by the MTA; playground reviews are submitted to the Parks Department; and potholes complaints go to the Department of Transportation.

No matter how much of a critique this is of the current 311 system, this app misrepresents itself AND erodes the public trust in government technology. I call on the Comptroller to rename this app and re-think its advocacy. 

Also note, the Comptroller was running for Mayor when this app launched one week before election day at the NY Tech Meetup… 

#betaNYC: The fate of Open Government in New York City

#betaNYC: The fate of Open Government in New York City

Employers are now required to make sure that potential personnel are not on the no-hire registry.

That makes sense but things got complicated when it came to the technology used in operating the registry.

Center lawyers concluded that the seemingly obsolete technology of faxing provided more security than email, given the possibility of hacker attacks, at least in the short-term.

Agencies may also have limited capacity to send encrypted or otherwise protected email.

“In most cases the Internet right now is not safeguarded to the correct level,” said center spokeswoman Diane Ward.

But all those names, which will run into the hundreds or even thousands during a month, were being funneled through a single fax machine located in a secure room at the center’s Bethlehem headquarters.

That led to an overload of the machine, which in turn necessitated the request that applicant lists be sent between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m.

NYC’s only Mayoral forum on Tech & Open Gov Policy

THIS JUST IN! Our friends at the Coalition for Queens have organized a NYC Mayoral Forum on Tech Policy!


Join us at the NYC Mayoral Candidates Tech Policy forum at the Museum of the Moving Image (36-01 35th Avenue, Astoria) on Monday, June 17th at 6:30 PM to hear the candidates discuss topics related to technology in New York City, including tech jobs and startup companies, STEM education, and government policy.

The discussion will be moderated by Anjali Athavaley of the Wall Street Journal and Nilay Patel of The Verge. Confirmed candidates for the forum include:

  • NYC Comptroller John Liu 
  • Former NYC Councilmember Sal Albanese 
  • Former Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrión, Jr. 
  • Former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson 
  • Former U.S. Congressman Anthony Weiner

We hope to make the forum participatory and would love your input. Please submit questions for the candidates on our website or tweet a question with the hashtag #queenstechforum.

This forum is presented in partnership with the Museum of the Moving Image, Partnership for New York City, Code for America NY, and Queens County Young Democrats.


But there is a dark side. Big data erodes privacy. And when it is used to make predictions about what we are likely to do but haven’t yet done, it threatens freedom as well. Yet big data also exacerbates a very old problem: relying on the numbers when they are far more fallible than we think. Nothing underscores the consequences of data analysis gone awry more than the story of Robert McNamara.

A report back on NYC BigApps’ CityCamp & Demo Night

A report back on NYC BigApps’ CityCamp & Demo Night

Like other innovation officers in the public sector, Austin’s chief innovation officer will work across city departments in an effort to break down silos, but also have a more outward-facing relationship with the community, helping to develop relationships between the city and universities and other individuals in the tech community.