Brownsville Innovation Lab inaugurates new technologies and education programs aimed at modernizing public infrastructure, supporting neighborhood development, and bridging the digital divide
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Chief Technology Officer Miguel Gamiño, and New York City Economic Development Corporation President James Patchett announced the roll-out of new smart city solutions and tech education programs for youth at Osborn Plaza in Brownsville, Brooklyn. The efforts will officially kick off on Saturday, July 8 and mark a key milestone for the Brownsville Neighborhood Innovation Lab.
In March 2017, Brownsville was announced as home to the City’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab. The tech equity initiative brings together community members, government, educators, and tech companies to help address neighborhood concerns with cutting-edge smart city technologies. Over the last four months, the City has partnered with Brownsville community leaders to run a series of strategic planning sessions focused on defining neighborhood needs and exploring how smart city technologies can help improve quality of life and support local economic development. Top priorities emerging from this work include improving safety and cleanliness of public spaces, and strengthening access to healthy foods.
"As technology evolves and becomes even more essential to our everyday urban lives, New York City only grows stronger,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “We are thrilled to see the launch of the Brownsville Innovation Labwhich will connect residents to resources, dynamic education opportunities, and deliver a significant boost to economic development in the neighborhood.”
Neighborhood Innovation Labs present a unique opportunity for tech companies and universities to respond to community-identified needs and partner with government to test their technology solutions in a real-world environment with community feedback. The initial technology demonstrations being installed at Osborn Plaza in Brownsville include the newest iteration of the Bigbelly solar-powered smart waste and recycling system, which can hold up to five-times the amount of a regular trash bin and uses sensors to notify maintenance crews when it is full, and two Soofa smart benches, which use solar power to offer free charging for mobile devices.
“Being a smart city means ensuring our communities have access to technologies and programs that improve quality of life, create new jobs and support our City’s youth having skillsets to build their future,” said Miguel Gamino, Chief Technology Officer for the City of New York. “This next phase of Neighborhood Innovations Labs is an important step in making sure all New Yorkers can participate in a modern world.”
"The de Blasio Administration is constantly working to bolster our innovation economy and make it more accessible to New Yorkers across the city,” said NYEDC President and CEO James Patchett. “The Neighborhood Innovation Lab will connect Brownsville residents with new smart cities technologies and programming to improve their quality of life and drive economic development in the neighborhood.”
New tech education programs for Brownsville youth will also kick off , starting with a hands-on workshop where elementary and middle school students will learn about STEM concepts by building solar-powered toy cars. The workshops are part of a new “Young Innovators Program” supported by BNY Mellon to spur interest in technology careers and create pathways for young people to join and diversify New York City’s thriving digital economy. Over the course of a year, the program expects to reach roughly 1,000 Brownsville youth through interactive workshops and technology demonstrations. In addition, 36 high school-aged youth and high school graduates from Brownsville will be invited to participate in an intensive skill development and professional training program that uses project-based learning to teach the foundations of product design and application development. The new program will be managed by the Brownsville Community Justice Center and aims to serve as a bridge to connect young adults to industry partnerships like the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline.
“This dynamic programming will provide a critically needed service to the youth in Brownsville and an opportunity to expand education opportunities in the neighborhood as a whole,” said Maria Torres-Springer, Commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “The Neighborhood Innovation Lab was launched as a part of the Brownsville Plan, a holistic community plan developed in close coordination with community residents. I want to thank our partners in government and the residents of Brownsville for continuously working with us to build diverse and livable neighborhoods.”
This is great news, and let's hope this can reach all ends of all five boroughs.