06 May Battle of the Tech Towns: New York City
By Vince Kiernan
Today we’re kicking off a series here on the LaunchSquad blog that will have employees from each of our offices battling it out for the title of “top tech city”. Today is all about New York, but stay tuned for Boston’s, San Francisco’s and Detroit’s side of the story soon.
At this point, the whole “Silicon Valley vs. Silicon Alley” debate is, quite literally, old enough to drive a car. Manhattan’s dot-com boom in the ‘90s and Northern California’s high concentration of tech corporations have established both regions as important commercial hubs for the tech industry, but geeks still love to argue over which coast is truly America’s cradle for tech. It’s like a continuation of the whole 2pac vs. Biggie debate, only with code and office culture.
And while that longstanding debate is still going strong, there are plenty of other cities vying for top honors. I’m guessing my coworkers in Boston and Detroit have a few things to say about their own tech towns.
In this New Yorker’s opinion, in terms of urban planning and infrastructure, NYC has embraced a tech identity that’s much bolder than San Francisco’s and Silicon Valley’s (sorry, LSSF, LSBoston and LSDetroit!) Over the past decade, the Big Apple has undergone some impressive transformations and really solidified its status as a high-tech metropolis. Let’s take a look at the top four reasons NYC is a techie’s dream town. And don’t worry; our San Francisco LaunchSquadders will get a say in this debate, too, along with members of our offices in Boston and Detroit.
- A Public CTO: In September 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio named Minerva Tantoco as New York’s own Chief Technology Officer. Tantoco, who previously worked in finance and management for the tech industry, now spearheads all efforts to promote technological advancements on the streets (more on those tech additions shortly). She’s the first public official to ever hold such a position. Nice gig, right?
- LinkNYC: One of Tantoco’s earliest initiatives was the funding and development of LinkNYC, a network of outdoor pylons that will bring free public Wi-Fi to over 10,000 locations across all five boroughs. The pylons also feature USB charging docks, headphone jacks and digital displays for advertisers—a much-needed upgrade from those archaic phone booths.
- Digital Subway kiosks: Navigating the Subway can be tricky, even for long-term New Yorkers. That’s why the MTA installed over 90 interactive kiosks on its train platforms. Designed by Control Group, these kiosks use touchscreen interfaces and fancy algorithms to help riders determine the quickest way from point A to point B.
- Sightseeing apps: Together, the city’s great landmarks and cultural institutions have launched an arsenal of smartphone apps that reinvent a typical day of sightseeing. The Met, MoMa and Museum of Natural History all use iOS technology to power their museum tours, and observation decks like Top of the Rock offer digital binocular apps to highlight important spots along the skyline. (And don’t forget about Real Pizza of New York, a genius app that reviews all of the city’s best spots to grab a slice.)
New York’s tech scene doesn’t have year-round sunshine or a namesake HBO series, but we’ve got some platforms that bring the 21st century’s coolest innovations to all people, not just coders and programmers. So next time you’re strolling down Broadway blasting T.Swift’s “Welcome to New York,” take a second to savor the many techy perks of the Big Apple.
Think your city is the best tech town around? Leave a comment below or send us a tweet and tell us why.