NYC’s chief digital officer Jessica Singleton is heading to business school – TechCrunch
This is Jessica Singletonâs last week as chief digital officer of the City of New York.
Singleton became the cityâs digital director in January 2014, then took on an expanded role as chief digital officer last year â at the time, Mayor Bill de Blasioâs administration said she would âencourage public participation in City-led technology initiatives, focus on outreach to the tech community, and direct citywide digital policy.â
In a post on Medium, Singleton outlines a number of the administrationâs tech-related achievements overÂ the past couple of years, including tripling theÂ size of the cityâs Tech Talent Pipeline,Â transforming phone booths into wifi hotspots and creating the cityâs Digital Playbook, which outlines ways that technology can be used to make New YorkÂ and other citiesÂ more equitable.
To illustrate the challenge of âreally trying to create cohesion and strategy around the cityâs digital user experience,â Singleton recalled that when she started working for the de Blasio administration, one of her first tasks was supporting the roll-out of the Cityâs new universal preschool program. Turns out that in order to apply, parents had to fill out a PDF form and then either fax or hand deliver it. (âIâm not kidding.â) So Singleton was able to work with a team toÂ create a web application that used location data to allowÂ parentsÂ to find and apply for a preschool online.
âThat experience crystallized the challenge and the opportunity,â she said. âThere is scale in government programs, in resident engagement, with the possibility to impact peopleâs lives in a way that you donât have anywhere else.â
So why leave now? Singleton said sheâs going to Harvard Business School â in fact, sheâd previously delayed her application in order to continue working for the de Blasio administration. (I guess getting an MBA just too tempting for some people.)âIâve always imagined bouncing back-and-forth [between the public and private sectors],â SingletonÂ said. âSo many of the lessons we learn in each of these domainsÂ reinforce and enhance what we do in the other.â
SheÂ added that evenÂ in her Harvard application, she discussed pursuing âa new kind of civic entrepreneurship,â with âthe technology and innovation communityâ becoming more active in helping to solve âpublic sector challenges.â
As for what happens to the de Blasio administrationâs approach toÂ tech after she leaves, Singleton said she has a strong team still in place, and that sheâsÂ âbeen very active in recruiting and sort of defining and shaping the future of both the Office of Digital Strategy and the portfolio that weâve pulled together. Thereâs just exciting, good stuff to come.â
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