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Internet Week New York opens with Bill de Blasio's call to make NYC 'great tech hub'
A $10 million "tech talent pipeline" is among the many investments City Hall is making to "amplify" the industry's rapid growth in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Monday at the opening of Internet Week New York.
The new initiative to recruit and train technology workers, funded over three years from city, state, federal and private coffers including those of JP Morgan Chase, will put New York on the path to becoming "undoubtedly one of the great tech hubs of the entire world," de Blasio said.
De Blasio delivered the keynote address at the weeklong festival in the Flatiron district celebrating technology's impact on business and culture. He drew parallels between the city's history of adaptation and innovation and the technology community's mission of improvement and efficiency.
"More than ever in history, a successful city thrives on the kind of disruption that new technology brings," he said. "This has always been a place that thrives on change and progress."
The tech industry accounts for 291,000 jobs in the city and contributes $30 billion in wages annually to the city's economy, city officials said.
The city seeks to improve broadband service throughout the city, providing universal, affordable, high-speed Internet access to close the "digital divide" that holds back some residents, de Blasio said.
The mayor also highlighted what he has said are his administration's efforts to fight economic inequality -- from establishing universal prekindergarten to creating more affordable housing units to issuing municipal IDs to residents regardless of their citizenship status -- as means of "getting our own house in order" and ready to host a thriving tech industry.
New York City still trails California's Silicon Valley as a hotbed for tech innovation, but it's on its way, de Blasio said.
The mayor offered a nod to predecessor Michael Bloomberg, saying he "did a fine job setting the table for the growth of this industry."
City Councilman Ben Kallos (D-Manhattan), chair of the council governmental operations committee and a software developer, applauded de Blasio in a statement.
"Equality of access to knowledge is a necessity for any free society," Kallos said. "Mayor de Blasio's plan to expand broadband access to the information superhighway is essential for a 21st century city that has ignored equality of this fundamental resource for far too long."
Here are some of the key strategies de Blasio plans to implement:
Jobs for New Yorkers Task Force: The mayor said he will create a group that will help connect people to tech jobs in the city. Although he will name the task force members Tuesday, he promised they will be experienced leaders from the business and education environments.
Tech education: The mayor pushed for more tech-related curriculum in the city's public schools and invested $20 million in Fiscal Year 2015 to expand STEM programs at CUNY.
Broadband payphones: De Blasio talked about the city's plan to convert the city’s pay phones into 10,000 Wi-Fi hot spots. A request for design proposals is currently open to engineers.
Open data: City agencies are already beginning to provide their data on the web and the mayor said this will make the government more transparent and more efficient. He said he’s already using NYPD data to help his “Vision Zero” initiative and curb traffic fatalities