NYC[x] Innovation Fellows
Since March 2020, the New York City Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer team has successfully partnered with volunteer technologists from U.S. Digital Response on multiple COVID-related projects. Now, New York City is launching the NYC[x] Innovation Fellows program to expand on this successful collaboration, embedding small teams of technologists with City agencies to rapidly solve specific challenges through the use of best practices in digital service delivery.
Our mission is to ensure that technology is inclusive, accessible, human-centered, and works for all New Yorkers. We view technology as a critical tool for realizing the Mayor’s vision of making New York City the fairest big city in America.
Founded by former U.S. Deputy CTOs and seasoned tech industry veterans who led federal open data policies and digital government strategy, U.S. Digital Response is a nonpartisan effort that connects experienced, pro bono technology teams to public servants responding to the COVID-19 crisis.
NYC[x] Innovation Fellows are working toward one of three high-priority projects:
- Creating continuous, multilingual machine learning translations to dramatically expand how NYC services reach millions of residents
- Mapping potential and existing broadband infrastructure to ensure NYC investments effectively close the digital divide
- Mapping bias and discrimination incidents across New York City to better direct resources to help those most affected.
An initial cohort will launch on August 10th, 2020 on an eight-week sprint, with each fellow contributing a minimum of 20 hours per week.
Volunteer fellows will gain invaluable hands-on experience solving critical problems for the largest municipal government in the United States, demonstrate how powerful using digital best practices can be for agency partners, and create tangible benefits for millions of New Yorkers. NYC[x] Innovation Fellows are also fully integrated into the broader volunteer community within U.S. Digital Response.
What skills are required or preferred to be selected as an NYC[x] Innovation Fellow?
First, availability. All volunteers are asked to contribute at least 20 hours of volunteer time weekly.
Second, fellowship teams have full support from the New York City Mayor’s Office of the CTO as well as from the team at U.S. Digital Response, but they are largely responsible for setting their own timelines, product decisions, and communication schedules. NYC[x] Innovation Fellows are those with demonstrated expertise in their particular technological area as well as experience working on complex, collaborative projects.
Finally, while many of the teams are made up of technologists with a variety of skills, some projects require specific experience, such as:
- Experience with product management, particularly with helping to introduce user-centered design, inclusive design, and agile ways of working to new partners
- Data scientists or engineers and with experience translating messy, real-world data sources into visualizations that others can interact with
- Front-end engineers who can create and architect responsive designs
- Researchers or designers who are NYC-based and would be open to doing in-the-field (but appropriately distanced and safe) user research
- Experience with any of the following: DevOps, IT security, designing video interfaces, streaming video hardware or software, Python, Perl back-end development, PHP, WordPress, or Redis/RQ.
NYC[x] Innovation Fellows can also be technologists with non-traditional backgrounds in order to build teams from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.
How do I apply for the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship program?
Applications are currently closed for the NYC[x] Innovation Fellows program. Click here to complete an application via the U.S. Digital Response application process. Note that this is the first time we are conducting a program like this, and we may have additional, similar opportunities in the future.
How are NYC[x] Innovation Fellows selected?
Volunteers submit an application that is reviewed by the USDR team for skills and commitment. If USDR’s Volunteers Team believes the applicant could be a good fit for the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship program, we conduct screening calls where we discuss their specific qualifications, interest, and availability and provide a deeper overview of the fellowship program. Once a pool of qualified volunteers is identified, USDR collaborates with the NYC Mayor’s Office of the CTO for final vetting and review.
Is this a paid opportunity?
No. This is a volunteer opportunity. NYC[x] Innovation Fellows are experienced professionals who are able to volunteer their time to this effort.
Will I be employed by USDR or the NYC Mayor’s Office of the CTO?
No. This is a volunteer opportunity. NYC[x] Innovation Fellows’ status as volunteers is not a step toward obtaining employment with USDR or the New York City team. All volunteers will follow U.S. Digital Response’s Volunteer Oath and will sign an NDA with New York City in order to access relevant city information for their projects.
How do I learn more about U.S. Digital Response?
You can access frequently asked questions by both governments and volunteers.
Who do I contact if I have more questions?
You can email us at [email protected].