Mayor Eric Adams rolled out the first phase of his long-promised MyCity online portal on Wednesday, a platform that aims to eventually serve as a “one-stop shop” for accessing city benefits and services, but he didn’t give a clear timeframe for when the full service will be implemented.
With its launch on Wednesday, MyCity is starting off by giving families the ability to apply for child care by using one “streamlined” online application, instead of completing a complex paper application used by several city agencies. The other phases of the site will be rolled out in the “years” and “months to come,” the mayor said, without specifying exactly when those phases will come online.
During a City Hall news conference where he unveiled the portal, Adams shared that he envisions MyCity as a site where New Yorkers can enter all of their personal information just one time and be able to easily fill out required forms for accessing benefits and services from every city agency.
“Imagine a day when you can fill out online, from your home, from your phone, one time interaction with the city and never again have to put in your social security number, your date of birth, all of that information,” Adams said.
Additionally, Adams said, the finished product will be able to automatically tell New Yorkers which city benefits and services they’re eligible for.
“How about being able to sign on, and when you sign on you’re told that you’re eligible for SNAP … you’re eligible for other benefits, instead of you having to figure out what you’re eligible for,” he said. “And billions of dollars [will] go back to the state, will go back to the federal government. We are telling you ahead of time that here’s what you are eligible for based on your profile.”
New Yorkers will be able to log onto the MyCity website — mycity.nyc.gov — either on their computers or smartphones by using their IDNYC account information or an existing email address to authenticate their account, according to City Hall.
In addition to allowing families to apply for childcare assistance through just one digital form, the first phase of MyCity gives those families access to live updates on their applications from agency staff and lets them check their eligibility before submitting any information. The first iteration of the platform also provides links to already existing city resources for small businesses and job seekers.
The mayor, however, didn’t give a specific timeframe for when his full vision will come to fruition, saying that he doesn’t want to sacrifice the quality of the service by rushing its implementation to meet an “imaginary deadline.” He said officials also want to take the time to make sure each new feature of the portal is tested by potential users.
“Every layer is going to have the tires kicked by the users, we’re not going to be so expeditious that we’re not going to produce a quality product,” Adams said, in response to a question from amNewYork Metro.
“This is [going to be] the foundation of how this city is going to function,” he added. “This is a legacy product and when you do a legacy project you can’t be worried about ‘did I beat the clock?’”
Hizzoner also defended MyCity first launching 15 months after he took office, even though the idea for the service was central to his mayoral campaign and he discussed his intention to implement it in his first State of the City address last April. Adams said the portal wasn’t introduced sooner because he wanted to give likely users the chance to test it and his administration was slowed down by having to respond to other pressing issues like the migrant crisis.
The mayor’s Chief Technology Officer Matthew Fraser said they’re also prioritizing adding city benefits and services to the portal that are currently not at all accessible online.
“We prioritize need based on capability today,” Fraser said. “So, we’re trying to find those services that have high impact, that are analogue, take a long time and you have no visibility into, pull those in. And in that process, look at other things that we can refine and also pull into the platform. We have a lot of digital forms today, some of those things work, and they may not be the best, but at least they’re something.”