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Tech and the City

Tech and the City

Here Are the Winners for NYC’s Gap App Challenge

<3 (Photo: Peter Macdiarmid, Getty)

Earlier this year Mayor Bloomberg and the New York Department of Education teamed up to create the Gap App Challenge, an initiative aimed to bridge the gap in math performance among middle school students. They challenged app creators to compete for a $15,000 top prize, which would be awarded to the most effective and innovative apps that focus on middle school math and can be used by students, parents or teachers. Read More

Tech and the City

Touchscreen Guides Are Coming to 250 More Phone Booths Across NYC

(Photo: City 24x7)

A few months ago, City 24×7 teamed up with the city of New York to create touchscreen neighborhood directories in phone booths across the city. Today, in partnership with Cisco, the company announced that it’s rolling out the high tech public communications systems to 250 more phone booths across the New York area.

Each phone booth is outfitted with a 32-inch touchscreen device that offers directory information, city news and alerts, transportation schedules, restaurants and maps. City 24×7 has partnered with a host of companies to bring up-to-the minute info to each booth.

“You can get your real time train alerts, best New York restaurants through Zagat, green market information through Grow NYC, theater tickets through Theater Mania,” said Tom Touchet, City 24×7′s CEO. City 24×7 has also partnered with CityMaps for hyperlocal maps for each booth, and will provide services for those who are disabled and have difficulty using a standard pay phone. Read More

Tech and the City

Uptown, Celebrities Get Their Hands Dirty for Bing

Ms. Richie gets to work.

It was a scorching 90-degree summer afternoon yesterday in Harlem’s Jacob H. Schiff Playground, where volunteers were sweating through their white, heart-adorned CITYarts t-shirts. Dedicated teenagers donned plastic gloves to submerge their hands into gooey buckets of plaster, painstakingly replacing the thousands of one-inch tiles that comprise the park’s Pieces for Peace mural. And standing in the middle of these sweaty teenagers, wearing equally tacky plastic gloves and black aprons, were none other than a mega-diva (Nicole Richie), a werewolf (Chaske Spencer) and a witch (Kat Graham).

Ms. Richie (who needs no introduction), Mr. Spencer (who plays the leader of the Twilight saga’s werewolf pack) and Ms. Graham (who plays the witch Bonnie in the CW’s Vampire Diaries), joined Corbin Bleu, Nigel Barker, Maria Menounos and Karlie Kloss on Tuesday to help restore the Harlem park’s mural, originally designed by CITYarts in 2005 as a way to celebrate cultural diversity after the September 11th attacks.

The mural restoration is part of Bing’s Summer of Doing and kicks off “The Hunt: 11 Days of Doing,” hosted by Microsoft’s search engine, as well as DoSomething.org and Lenovo. DoSomething, Bing and CITYarts partnered up to help restore the park due to its importance in the community. Read More

Tech and the City

Holographic Customer Service Reps Will Bring a Bit of Star Wars to NYC Airports

No word yet on whether R2D2 will be needed in order for the holograms to function. (digitaltrends.com)

If you thought the buzzy Tupac hologram was awesome, wait until you hear what the Port Authority plans to spend its money on: Starting this summer, three holographic customer service reps will begin work at JFK, Laguardia and Newark, supplementing the flesh-and-blood reps that are often overwhelmed by the magnitude of travelers that visit New York during the summer. Read More

Tech and the City

Credit Card Payment Methods for the Visually Impaired Coming to a Taxi Near You

City Councilman James Vacca (council.nyc.gov)

Paying for your cab fare with a credit card seems simple enough, but for the visually impaired, it can be a lot more difficult. New York’s yellow cabs just weren’t equipped with the proper software enhancements to help the visually impaired–until now.

Lighthouse International, an organization dedicated to overcoming vision impairment through rehabilitation, education, research and advocacy, teamed up with Creative Mobile Technologies and city council member James Vacca to announce software enhancements to New York’s taxis to optimize the payment experience for the visually impaired. Read More

Tech and the City

Manhattan President Trumpets Twitter, Tumblr; Announces Uptown Incubator

Mr. Stringer. (wikimedia.org)

Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz wants an Apple factory in Brownsville; Mayor Mike Bloomberg keeps saying New York’s Silicon Alley will rival Silicon Valley. Now Manhattan borough president Scott Stringer is the latest New York pol to pay homage to the city’s budding tech sector—although he’ll be careful to plug Wall Street first.

“The financial industry will always be a key driver of New York’s economy,” begins the text for tonight’s State of the Borough address, an early copy of which was provided to press. “We can never take that for granted—not when it generates 20 percent of all wages in the city. But we need to diversify our economy by pursuing industries that we know will power the marketplace for years to come. That begins with high-tech.” Read More

Tech and the City

Pay for Parking By Phone and Get a Text When the Meter’s Low–If the City Can Find a Payments Provider, That Is [RFP]

parking meter

The city is looking to improve the nickel-and-dime-based technology that fuels ours parking meters, and it’s on the hunt for someone with the technology to help. “New York City Department of Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan today announced a Request for Proposals for a pilot program to allow motorists to pay for parking using cellular phones and electronic devices,” the agency says.  An electronic system would eliminate the need to involve dirty pieces of metal in the transaction and allow drivers to pay in a wider range of increments. The city hopes to roll out a test program with about 300 parking spaces, the location of which has yet to be decided. Read More

Tech and the City

City Hackathon Starting to Sound More Like a Typical RFP

When the city announced today it’s hosting a hackathon at General Assembly to “reimagine” its 1.0-esque website, Betabeat was picturing something like Music Hack Day or the Foursquare hackathon, where a bunch of scrappy, sweatshirted programmers jammed together some code over the weekend for funsies–you know, like in the picture the mayor’s office is using to promote the event. Oops. We should have read the rules. Read More