Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York  

VIDEO: Digital Media Disrupts Business as Usual

Contact: Tom Stoekler
(212) 636-7576

NYC's Chief Digital Officer Rachel Haot took questions from GBA's Athan Stephanopoulos.
Photo by Joseph Ferrazano

Publishing, banking, government, and academia are just a few industries that are undergoing a protracted revolution through the convergence of technology and media. Upheaval is the new normal and it doesn't look like the dust is going to settle anytime soon.

The tectonic shift is the subject of Digital Media Disruption, a new lecture series launched by Fordham's Graduate School of Business Administration (GBA). On Feb. 21, Rachel Haot, New York City’s chief digital officer, inaugurated the series at the TimesCenter in New York City as part of Social Media Week.  

"The series gives students and the public a chance to participate in the dialogue," said Athan Stephanopoulos, an adjunct professor of communications at GBA and the event’s organizer. Stephanopoulos is also CEO and founder of GorillaSpot Media.

Haot was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg in 2011 to guide the city’s engagement with the tech sector, one of the mayor’s top priorities, and the result has been the creation of NYC Digital.

In a briskly paced Power Point presentation, Haot explained the city's digital strategy through the  Digital Roadmap, which was introduced in 2011. The plan touches on vast initiatives from the land grant for Cornell University’s tech campus on Governor’s Island, to comparatively smaller initiatives, like repurposing obsolete payphone booths as Wi-Fi hotspots. It also encompasses recently announced economic initiatives like the We are Made in NY, that provides resources for smaller start ups.

Currently, the city's digital audience of more than 6.2 million people tune in to more than 200 social media feeds each month, said Haot. As the city employs close to a quarter of a million people who also need to be served, she said that the strategy needs to support innovation from both inside and outside of the government.

Creating a cohesive whole has been the challenge for Haot's department, NYC Digital, which falls under the auspices of the city’s Office of Media & Entertainment.

During the presentation Haot took questions from Twitter as well as from the audience. 

With millions tuning in to, @jennydelston wanted to know how Hoat's office managed the digital initiatives with such a small team.

"We look at ourselves like a startup," she said. "We also share resources, we engage the public, we engage the private sector through partnerships, and we've been able to achieve a lot more than we ever could on our own."

Haot used city's Digital Jobs Map as an example of a public/private partnership where the end product was completely donated. The map details where tech sector job openings are located. Haot's office teamed up with Internet Week, the weeklong tech festival, to generate the app. 

Haot's talk provided a hint of the city's complex digital profile. Subjects ranged from plans for Wi-Fi on subway platforms and in public parks, to the creation of the .NYC domain. She talked about the Department of Transportation’s "You the Man" app, which uses a digital Spin the Bottle to pick a designated driver before pub-crawls. Plans to provide Internet access in underserved communities also drew attention.

Ironically, Haot's comment that got some of the most tweets was one that didn't deal in the digital realm: "I'm hard pressed to find another city with a better user experience," she said.

Founded in 1841, Fordham is the Jesuit University of New York, offering exceptional education distinguished by the Jesuit tradition to more than 15,100 students in its four undergraduate colleges and its six graduate and professional schools. It has residential campuses in the Bronx and Manhattan, a campus in West Harrison, N.Y., the Louis Calder Center Biological Field Station in Armonk, N.Y., and the London Centre at Heythrop College, University of London, in the United Kingdom.

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