New York City's first Chief Digital Officer, Rachel Haot, is a very busy lady. She's charged with managing the digital universe of one of the planet's most technologically advanced cities. Haot's most recent accomplishment was heading up the relaunch of NYC.gov, the digital face of New York City. And during her keynote speech this afternoon at Engadget Expand, Haot opened the show with a powerful statement about the Big Apple's tech sector: "Today more than any other time, we really are experiencing a golden age of technology in NYC."
In Haot's eyes, this "golden age" is being spearheaded by several factors. First, 3D printing. "New York City is arguably the 3D-printing capital of the world," she noted, with reference to MakerBot, littleBits and more. It's a trend that's emblematic of NYC's transformative history, reinventing itself repeatedly across the past 400 years.
Though NYC is already home to several major industries -- fashion, finance and restaurants, to name just a few -- Haot envisions a future where NYC is also a major tech hub. In an effort to lay the groundwork for that future, Haot and the Bloomberg administration took a multi-pronged approach: Bridge the digital divide with as much publicly available WiFi as possible; push STEM education on several fronts; relaunch the main website of the NYC government; encourage tech companies to create in NYC, and a program aimed at replacing the aging NYC payphone system.
And Haot said the city is making serious progress on all fronts. "We've educated over 1 million New Yorkers to date in a variety of digital program," she told attendees. "Diversity in this sector is critical." To that end, STEM education in NYC is stronger than ever -- a result of collaboration between the Bloomberg administration and the White House, not to mention NYC's own initiatives.
As for the future, Haot sees a thriving tech sector in New York City powered by the initiatives of her boss' administration. "The message is clear: The sector is growing, and it can't grow fast enough. We welcome this talent with open arms." And hey, so we do we -- more for us to cover from our hometown!
Zach Honig contributed to this report.