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 will work toward one of three high-priority projects:
- Creating continuous, multilingual machine learning translations to dramatically expand how NYC services reach millions of residents
- Optimizing data feeds from emergency response robotics in the field
- 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. They will also be 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 will be asked to contribute at least 20 hours of volunteer time weekly between early August and early October. We will be hosting some meetings with your agency placements and other volunteers during East Coast business hours; while some of these events are flexible, you will gain the most from the fellowship if you are able to attend the majority of them.
Second, fellowship teams will 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 will largely be responsible for setting their own timelines, product decisions, and communication schedules. We are looking for people with demonstrated expertise in their particular technological area as well as experience working on complex, collaborative projects.
Finally, while many of the teams will be made up of technologists with a variety of skills, we do have a few projects in need of specific experience. So we especially encourage you to apply if you:
- Have experience with product management, particularly with helping to introduce user-centered design, inclusive design, and agile ways of working to new partners
- Are a data scientist or engineer and have experience translating messy real-world data sources into visualizations others can interact with
- Are a front-end engineer who can create and architect responsive designs
- Are a researcher or designer who is NYC-based and would be open to doing in-the-field (but appropriately distanced and safe) user research
- Have 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.
We encourage technologists from non-traditional backgrounds to apply as we aim to build teams from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences.
How do I apply for the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship program?
Complete an application via the U.S. Digital Response application process. Be sure to check the box that you are interested in the NYC[x] Innovation Fellowship program. In the question asking why you volunteered, let us know what inspired you to apply for the fellowship. Applications are due by Sunday, August 2nd at 11:59pm PST.
What is the timeline for the fellowship?
We aim to move “at the speed of need” – and in COVID-19 times, that means we move quickly! Qualified volunteers will be interviewed on a rolling basis beginning July 23, 2020 and we plan to confirm most fellows by August 5th. The fellowship teams will collaborate with each other and with their partner agency between August 10th and October 5th.
How are NYC[x] Innovation Fellows selected?
Volunteers submit an application that is reviewed by the USDR team for skills and commitment. If we believe 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 will collaborate with the NYC Mayor’s Office of the CTO for final vetting and review.
If prior USDR calls for volunteers are any indication, we may receive more volunteers who are great fits for the program than we have space. If that is the case, we will give you the option to join the broader USDR volunteer pool for the chance to be matched with volunteer opportunities at our other government partners. Note that this is the first time we are conducting a program like this, and we may have additional, similar opportunities in the future.
Is this a paid opportunity?
No. This is a volunteer opportunity. We’re asking for 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. Your status as a volunteer 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. If you are not able to volunteer 20+ hours a week right now but would still like to help, we encourage you to sign up for USDR’s broader volunteer list so we can contact you as other opportunities become available.
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].