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NYC Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot on providing digital access to all

Brian Heater

"The foundation of New York City's digital strategy is access," explains Rachel Haot, fresh off her Expand press day opening remarks. "We define that as access for all New Yorkers, regardless of income level, regardless of the resources you may have in your household. Libraries play a very vital role in this; schools do as well, [along with] recreation centers run by the city's parks department -- and we've even invested in senior centers, where we are connecting more seniors with the internet and providing training." Haot's served as New York's chief digital offers for three years or so, tasked with the seemingly overwhelming goal of making technology available to the citizens of the largest city in the country.

The question of income gaps plays a key role in the city's continued push to bring high-tech jobs to New York as the cost of living threatens to push out potential startups. Haot counters that the city continues to offer affordable spaces in the five boroughs. She also offers up a list of perks the Big Apple provides over those areas we've come to know as tech hubs. "New York City is a completely unique destination that presents completely unique opportunities for any entrepreneur," she adds. "One of the reasons we hear people come here is, first and foremost, diversity. You look at a lot of other tech hubs and it's a one-horse town. It ends up being an echo chamber, or a bit of a bubble. In New York City, you're always kept humble, because there are so many industries, and they're always intersecting. I think that provides and enables enormous creativity and collaboration."

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