Improve Digital Infrastructure To Meet The Needs Of The 21St Century
Broadband internet access is foundational to economic inclusion and mobility, yet the unreasonably high cost of service and uneven access to connectivity exclude millions of New Yorkers. Disparities in digital literacy prevent many from fully benefiting from connectivity, while malicious behavior and disinformation campaigns online have continued to rise. Meanwhile, a surge in cyberattacks has demonstrated the need for government investment to shore up public systems, safeguard critical institutions, and protect residents. To that end, the City is continuing to pursue its commitment to making universal broadband across the five boroughs, promoting digital literacy programs, and fostering the most robust cyber ecosystem in the world. The City will also invest in its own data infrastructure, and promote data integration and agency collaboration to deliver city services more efficiently.
Universal broadband access is critical to all aspects of our lives. Yet, since the 2016 presidential election, the federal government has enacted regressive policies that eliminated incentives for universal service, defunded subsidies for greater affordability, and removed protections for privacy and nondiscrimination. Faced with these challenges, the City will put in place the most ambitious program of its kind in the country to accelerate broadband access and build on the progress we have made since 2015. We will incentivize new providers to bring broadband to more parts of the city that are currently underserved, with options for faster service, and respect for personal privacy. We will enable greater transparency of broadband conditions, including the availability of free services. The City will continue to use all available authority to ensure companies meet their obligations to provide high-quality, affordable service, and will press for greater authority and better policies at the local, state, and federal levels, thereby increasing industry competition, improving service at more affordable rates, and protecting user privacy.
- Issue the NYC Connected Internet Master Plan that details the path to equitable broadband infrastructure
Achieving universal broadband requires detailed knowledge and data about current conditions and needs, as well as a roadmap for addressing disparities in this essential infrastructure. To get to this point, the City published Truth in Broadband: Access and Connectivity in New York City in April 2018, a seminal report offering the clearest picture of the digital divide for any city in the country, through an extensive analysis of publicly available data. The Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO) gathered input from more than 50 internet service providers, industry experts, digital literacy organizations, privacy advocates, and workers’ rights representatives to develop its standards, and systematically surveyed the physical conditions of infrastructure across the city. In 2019, the City will issue the first Internet Master Plan in the nation, detailing the current state of New York City’s broadband infrastructure and establishing clear metrics for what it will need to achieve universal, equitable service. The plan will address fixed connections, mobile service, free public Wi-Fi, and public computer centers. It will establish measurable benchmarks for improving broadband infrastructure for fixed and mobile connections, assess strategies specific to the conditions of every neighborhood in the city, and provide the tools needed to prioritize and measure the impact of new public and private investment and other actions. Finally, the plan will describe how the City and its partners can engage communities in shaping their own paths to universal connectivity.
- Mobilize public and private investment and advance policies for a better internet
To accelerate broadband access, the City will transform its approach to deploying broadband infrastructure by becoming a more active partner with the private sector. In 2019, we will release a new type of request for proposals (RFP) to partner with infrastructure and service providers to meet neighborhood connectivity needs. The RFP will leverage a new, centralized approach to making City rooftops and other facilities available for broadband deployment. The City will add value to its assets through targeted investment, consistent with the Internet Master Plan, as public or other innovative financing becomes available, and will use its authority to expand underground conduit and fiber optic infrastructure.
The City will seek to have all broadband providers meet or exceed the standards established in the master plan so all private investment contributes to the City’s goals. This includes legislation already introduced in the City Council (on behalf of the Mayor) to strengthen consumer protections and establish strong privacy requirements for cable broadband service. Wherever possible, we will incorporate provisions mandating net neutrality, privacy, and resiliency into contracts and agreements. We will also advocate strengthening local authority by opposing the Federal Communications Commission’s attempts to direct public property for commercial gain, and by pushing for new state legislation that would make the franchise framework fairer for all companies in New York City. Finally, we will continue to lead a global effort through the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights, which New York City founded in 2018 with Barcelona and Amsterdam, with the goal of growing the coalition to more than 100 cities around the world.
- Ensure New Yorkers are better informed about broadband services
The City will update and expand its groundbreaking Truth in Broadband: Access and Connectivity in New York City report, adding comprehensive assessments of current broadband conditions, digital inclusion efforts through public computer centers, and the quality, security, and coverage of free public Wi-Fi. The goal is for New Yorkers to be able to generate reports based on their location, compare service across neighborhoods, find broadband providers in a given area, and locate free Wi-Fi and other resources. New Yorkers will be able to use this as a platform to connect and roam across Wi-Fi services, order broadband service for their home, and run a connection speed test
- Research and develop new broadband techniques that spread technological advancements equitably
New York City will shape the internet of the future to meet the needs of New Yorkers, while continuing to engage the private sector and other experts to better understand and design the right approach to universal connectivity under different conditions. The City’s Queensbridge Connected demonstration project, for example, was recognized as a national model for digital inclusion, yielding valuable lessons on the coordinated delivery of internet service and education programs to achieve universal adoption of 90 percent. The NYCx Governors Island Connectivity Challenge leveraged in-field testing of emerging technologies, that resulted in new wireless service for island visitors and tenants in what was one of the least connected parts of the city. We will continue to engage the private sector and other experts to better understand and design the right approach to universal connectivity. In 2018, a group of local universities supported by the City, and with the backing of community and industry partners, secured a $22.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and the Platforms for Advanced Wireless Research industry consortium to fund the launch of the first urban-scale wireless testbed by the end of 2020. Located in West Harlem, the partners have secured additional grants to work with public school teachers and community residents in order to add educational value to the long-term benefits of the research. This zone will attract established companies and start-ups looking to design applications for next-generation networks — and will allow the City to shape the direction of those efforts.
Lower Manhattan has robust fiber optic infrastructure—the basic building block of internet connectivity—but options are limited in much of the rest of the city. This makes it harder for new internet service providers or other businesses to expand in those areas.
Source: Communications Commission,
Because an inclusive digital world can help combat the inequities of the physical world, the City provides more free internet service, device access, and broadband education programs than any other city in the country. For example, the City’s public computer centers currently include more than 11,000 free computer workstations at more than 500 locations across the city. These centers collectively provide more than 21,000 hours of open lab time and more than 2,500 hours of digital literacy training per week on a wide range of subjects, in addition to a diverse array of digital tools and resources. Over the past four years, LinkNYC has deployed nearly 1,800 new high-speed public Wi-Fi access points, featuring connected and secure tablets, free nationwide calling, and free device charging with over 6 million LinkNYC WiFi subscribers. During that same period, the City has loaned or given away more than 15,000 free connected devices through partnerships with Brooklyn, New York, and Queens Public Libraries; the New York City Housing Authority; and others. The City provided free home internet service to the more than 6,000 residents of the Queensbridge Houses, with opportunities to take classes and borrow devices on-site. We will expand and build on these partnerships to ensure all New Yorkers benefit from connectivity.
- Expand free and secure internet services, training programs, and access to connected devices
The City will continue to pursue partnerships with internet providers, sponsors, and other stakeholders to bring free or low-cost service options to more New Yorkers. We will build on the progress we’ve made providing professional development for 1,000 frontline staff at 216 public computer centers across the city. In 2019, we will publish the City’s first comprehensive inventory of its public computer center resources. We will promote efforts to support seniors’ equitable adoption of broadband service and ensure they have access to supportive community spaces to explore technology and learn digital skills. The City will further develop strategies for connecting residents with mobility disabilities, people who are homeless or in transitional housing, and other groups that require highly personalized solutions, with the goal of completely eliminating digital disparities.
- Expand digital training programs and resources focusing on privacy and online safety
The City will build on the progress we have made in delivering online privacy and security training at public computer centers. We will also use this network of computer centers and trained frontline staff to deliver digital security tools and information to New Yorkers promote digital products that have strong privacy protections, and increase civic engagement.Additionally, New York City Cyber Command (NYC3), on behalf of the City, will spearhead a study that will focus on the most effective ways to educate consumers about the data that is collected from them, the value that data holds, and the policies and programs necessary to keep that data secure. This builds on the success of NYC3’s free, groundbreaking NYC Secure App, which set the national standard for how cities can help residents protect their smartphones from nefarious Wi-Fi networks and applications. While productive, these consumer education efforts will only be fully realized when the digital economy moves away from excessive collection and monetization of personal information. The City created the Chief Privacy Officer position in 2018 and will continue to work with the City Council to strengthen consumer protections for cable broadband service.
Every facet of life in the city — from the delivery of water and electricity to transportation, health care, and emergency response — has become deeply reliant on technology. Yet the proliferation of smartphones, sensors, and internet-connected devices within our homes, workplaces, and public spaces has also created more opportunities for cyberattackers to steal data or disrupt critical systems. The City’s NYC3 will develop a centralized, holistic approach to mitigating cyber risk. Over the past two years, NYC3 has pioneered world-class approaches to preventing, detecting, responding to, and recovering from cyberthreats. To expand our capacity to respond to growing threats, we will build the most robust cybersecurity ecosystem in the world, cultivating a homegrown talent pipeline representative of local communities, fostering innovative cybersecurity companies, and safeguarding the City, its services, and local institutions from cyberattacks.
Formalize the long-term role and capacity of the city’s cybersecurity function
Working with the City Council, we will seek to formalize NYC3’s long-term organizational structure. As the City’s 2019 Hazard Mitigation Plan highlights, we must expand NYC3’s existing functions to better respond to new threats, including fake audio and video generated by artificial intelligence (AI), data-center malware, and industrial attacks. The City will build, test, deploy, and maintain modern emergency management plans to enlist the aid of City employees and the private sector during city-scale cyberattacks.
- Help New Yorkers combat internet misinformation
In a partnership between the City’s Chief Democracy Officer and NYC3, and with support from local government, we will launch public awareness campaigns that empower New Yorkers to critically engage with digital content and develop protocols for how the City can respond to highly visible misinformation at critical moments (e.g., during rollouts of major programs, or right before election day). Additionally, we will leverage relationships with social media platforms to combat localized misinformation at key moments. For more, see A Vibrant Democracy.
- Mobilize a “National Cyber Consortium” to confront known and emerging cyberthreats
The City will create a national coalition of local governments, academic institutions, and other entities to confront cyberthreats. The coalition will share relevant data and best practices, integrate crisis response plans, and conduct joint simulations of cyberattacks. The City will develop a rotational program for public cybersecurity employees to learn from cybersecurity professionals in other cities to spread best practices, drive professional development, and enhance cooperation. Finally, we will build on our 2019 announcement of the New York City Cyber Critical Services and Infrastructure group, a partnership between NYC3, NYPD, the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, and 17 critical industry sectors to coordinate on pressing cybersecurity challenges.
- Protect the city’s 240,000 small businesses and consumers from cyberthreats
Launched in 2018, the NYCx Cybersecurity Moonshot Challenge explores innovative and affordable solutions to safeguard small businesses from cyberattacks. In 2019, City agencies will make small business owners aware of affordable and user-friendly cybersecurity software and services, and launch technical training programs to help them install and deploy the software. NYC3 will also leverage policies, standards, and legislative tools to enhance small business protection.
- Establish New York City as a global cybersecurity leader
New York City has the talent and educational resources to become a global center for cybersecurity training, services, and job creation. As part of the City’s Cyber NYC program, we will create 10,000 good-paying cybersecurity jobs by 2030, and cultivate a thriving and inclusive start-up ecosystem that attracts companies from around the world. To ensure cybersecurity careers are accessible to all New Yorkers, we will launch a “cyber boot camp” to train more than 1,000 residents from underserved communities with the necessary skills to excel in cybersecurity jobs. In collaboration with City University of New York, Columbia University, New York University, Cornell Tech, and iQ4, we will launch an Applied Learning initiative to both make experiential learning available in the classroom and build more diverse talent pipelines between our major research universities and cybersecurity employers. The City will also open two world-class spaces — the Global Cyber Center by SOSA, and Hub.NYC by Jerusalem Venture Partners — for cybersecurity programming, ecosystem development, technical demonstrations, and start-up acceleration. Finally, we will develop and launch a collaboration between the Department of Education (DOE), the Economic Development Corporation, and NYC3 to offer and support cybersecurity education and career awareness across DOE schools.
The frequency and severity of global cyberattacks against both public and private sector institutions has increased over time. This makes the City’s investments in its cyberinfrastructure and talent pipeline more important to our long-term prosperity and resiliency.
Source: Group SIR, Cisco, CompTIA, Statista
In order to deliver high-quality, integrated services to residents, businesses, and visitors, data must often be collected, shared, and integrated across multiple agencies for operational use, analysis, and evaluation. This is driven by the availability of smart, secure, reliable, up-to-date, and resilient technology. To improve our data sharing and integration capabilities, we will develop a broad spectrum of platforms, products, and services, supported by updated enterprise network architecture and infrastructure, with a particular focus on enhanced resiliency. We will continue to promote existing City governance frameworks that help agencies navigate the legal, privacy, and information security concerns inherent with data integration. This not only creates economies of scale for solving complex multi-agency data integration challenges, but also grows a body of business use cases that can serve as governance models for future integration projects.
As cybersecurity breaches have increased, so has the demand for trained cybersecurity professionals.