Five Takeaways from the 2019 New York City Technology Forum

Here’s what we learned from a few of the most engaging conversations at the 2019 New York City Technology Forum. 
When you crunch the numbers, New York City is an enterprise within itself. Serving as the headquarters for 73 Fortune 500 companies across a range of industries, New York represents the highest concentration of the world’s best and brightest. But with 8.6 million residents and over 350,000 city government employees, New York also offers unique challenges. 
In a city of its size, there’s an immense need to ensure that residents have access to secure resources — and that public officials have the right tools and technologies in place to provide these resources. From government apps to services like NYC 311, innovative technology helps keep New York City afloat. 
The 2019 New York City Technology Forum brought leaders from a range of public and private organizations together to discuss the current state of technology and make predictions about what the future holds. We sat in on several dynamic presentations over the course of the forum’s two-day run, keying in on several standout themes. Here’s a recap of some highlights and lessons learned from the event. 
 

1. Organizations must work to reduce cyber threats

The numbers don’t lie — our increased dependence on digital devices has led to increased instances of cybercrime. According to Cybersecurity Ventures’ 2019 Annual Cybercrime Report, cybercrime will cost businesses across the globe upwards of $6 trillion per year by 2021, with even the best trained professionals falling victim to data breaches. In 2018 alone, a whopping 83 percent of information security professionals experienced a phishing attack.
New York City is a prime target for cyberattacks because of its size and the way New Yorkers interact with technology. Colin Ahern, Deputy Chief Information Security Officer of New York City, spoke at length during the forum about the importance of personalized cybersecurity measures, keying in on the importance of zero trust architecture, a strict identity verification model, for cloud-based applications. Trends also show a big shift toward identity and access management (IAM) solutions, which have already made their way into mainstream usage by way of multi-factor authentication and role-based access control.
 

2. AI-augmentation will change lives

The forum also gave us insight into some exciting applications for artificial intelligence (AI). The healthcare industry, for instance, can benefit from from AI-based technologies in two major ways — preventive medicine and new drug development. Google’s Cloud Healthcare API pulls data from users’ electronic health records and generates insights that are passed on to healthcare providers, helping them make better clinical decisions faster. Medical researchers at the University of North Carolina have also used IBM Watson’s Genomic product to identify 1,000 unique treatments for cancer patients with certain genetic abnormalities. 
AI-augmentation can also have a positive impact on social services, a field overrun with excessive paperwork and other manual processes. By leveraging robotic process automation (RPA) — an emerging form of technology that mimics human interaction — agencies can use RPA bots to handle complex operations like filling out application forms for non-native English speakers or making eligibility decisions. Full automation could translate into millions of man-hours thrown back into the pool and upwards of $75 million in savings in the next few years. 
 

3. Cities are getting smarter

Smart cities embody the fascinating intersection between technology, government, eco-consciousness, and lifestyle. These communities are IoT-enabled public spaces that use technology to optimize city functions. Think bus stations that deliver arrival times based on real-time data, street lights that automatically dim on unpopulated roadways to conserve energy, and public Wi-Fi hubs.
 
Many cities have started implementing this technology, but New York City, San Diego, and Kansas City stand out from the pack. With all of the possibilities out there, we’re excited to see how smart cities continue to develop in 2020 and beyond. 
 

4. When it comes to the cloud, opportunity outweighs risk 


Confusion still lingers around cloud operations and many everyday users remain wary of storing personal data in the cloud. In order to alleviate these fears, tech enterprises must ensure that the cloud is secure for customers.
 
Cloud security solutions are cost-effective to implement, widely available, and compatible with popular BYOD (bring your own device) trends.The cloud, APIs, and no-code development were designed for how innovators create today and in the future. In fact, LogicMonitor predicts that 83 percent of enterprise workloads will be cloud-based by 2020, and we only foresee that percentage rising. 
 

5. Design-driven development is changing the tech industry

Driving customer engagement ultimately come down to delivering the best client experience. Modern consumers are spoiled for choice when it comes to apps, websites, and other digital services. The savviest businesses and government agencies understand this and proactively leverage solutions that meet users’ needs.
NYCx, a civic tech initiative start-up, is a great example of how residents and city departments can work together to create solutions that uplift the community. The NYCx Co-Lab Challenge, for example, harnesses a user-centric design to foster partnerships between New York City residents and community groups. By collaborating with the public to combat issues that affect the community, the City of New York can encourage more people to enjoy and navigate public spaces. 
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