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MAS Resilience Practitioners Join Forces with NYC’s Technology Entrepreneurs


A community that thrives on disruption, New York City’s Tech Entrepreneurs have a lot of contribute to the resilience scene.  On Thursday, May 15 the Municipal Art Society hosted its Resilience Roundtable at the Urban Future Lab in Brooklyn, bringing together practitioners at the forefront of NYC’s resilience challenges with practitioners leading the charge on technology entrepreneurship, to discuss how we can Engage the Tech Community in Resilience Building.

The main principles held by the tech community – accessibility and openness, diversity, innovation and exchange – provide entrepreneurs in this community with the tools necessary to address a wide range of social, political, and economic challenges in our cities.  With more than 291,000 jobs in the city’s tech ecosystem, it is a growing industry with the capital and resources to make effective change happen.  Those in power at the City level recognize the value of cultivating this industry in New York City.  Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a $10 million “Tech Talent Pipeline” to train New Yorkers for tech-related jobs.  The New York Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) has sponsored the BigApps competition to empower individuals in the tech, design and business industries to build an app, device or data tool that addresses the city’s toughest challenges.  They also initiated a competition specifically focused on identifying and deploying creative new technologies and solutions to make NYC businesses more resilient to the impacts of future storms and the effects of climate change, called RISE:NYC . Even those embedded within the tech community recognize the power they have to impact social change, with organizations such as Significance Labs bringing together ‘technology’s brightest minds’ to design ‘high-impact products for low-income Americans.’

With the plethora of challenges Sandy both highlighted and created, there is a significant need to encourage the tech community to turn their attention towards resilience.  At the roundtable we heard from entrepreneurs working at the forefront to improve the energy industry, facilitate a sharing economy, and provide open and accessible data and information.  Organized in partnership with the Urban Future Lab and NYC Acre, the following innovators shared their web products and services:

A discussion followed around the challenges to our city’s resilience and how new technologies and innovations could address them.  Various themes emerged, including the need to create matchmaking services between entrepreneurs and those in need, providing education and institutional knowledge to improve the capacity to respond to events and create new jobs in the resilience field, and to develop  connective tissue that pulls together community members and diverse professionals to encourage collaboration.

MAS’s Global Network is doing just that.  By connecting innovators working on granular interventions in their communities around the world, we are creating an exchange of ideas and strategies to address the world’s urban challenges.  At MAS, we know that resilience requires an ‘All Hands on Deck’ approach that engages all disciplines and community members in resilience building.  Bearing this in mind, our global network includes artists in Bandung, urban ecologists in NYC, information and communication technology specialist from The Hague, entrepreneurs focusing on the sharing economy in San Francisco, and more.  By bridging connections between disciplines – arts and the economy, the natural and built environment, technology and the public realm – a holistic strategy to addressing urban challenges can be assembled and new innovations emerge.  As New York City continues to address its challenges from Sandy, opportunities for cross-disciplinary collaboration, including the tech community, are spurring new improvements and advancements to make New York City a model for resilience around the globe.