Policy in Practice Series: Councilwoman Brewer

Posted on Aug 23, 2013

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We are so honored to host the candidate for Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer as one of our policy speakers. Special thanks go to Brian Schaitkin for helping us to initiate the series.


Meetup Announcement:

Big Data and Tech Policy Conversation with Council Woman Gale A. Brewer


Gale A. Brewer has represented the Upper West Side and northern Clinton in the New York City Council since 2002. Her service in the Council is a continuation of nearly 40 years of public service to the people of New York.

CM Brewer has been Chair of the Committee on Governmental Operations since 2010. It oversees governmental structure and organization with an eye toward increasing both efficiency and accountability, particularly in the delivery of services and the use of technology. The Committee is also responsible for oversight of the New York City Board of Elections, the New York City Campaign Finance Board, the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the Department of Records and Information Services, and other agencies.

From 2002-2009 she chaired the Committee on Technology, where she focused on the  use of technology to increase transparency, save money, improve city services, and bring residents, businesses and non-profits closer to government and their communities. CM Brewer is integrating many of the best practices of the Technology Committee with Governmental Operations. Council Member Brewer’s work on tech issues includes leading the charge to acquire the dot NYC domain name as early as 2008; the passage of the most progressive Open Data legal policy ever adopted by a municipality; the creation of a Broadband Advisory Committee, which examined issues of broadband adoption in all five boroughs; introduction of legislation to require all public meetings in New York City be webcast; and more. All of the City Council’s hearings are now webcast live, thanks to CM Brewer’s recommendation.

Other committees on which CM Brewer serves include: Aging; Finance; General Welfare; Higher Education; Housing & Buildings; Mental Health; Technology; Transportation; and Waterfronts. In addition, she co-chairs the Manhattan Delegation, sits on the Council's Budget Negotiating Team, is a member of the Rules Committee Working Group, and represents the City Council on the Commission on Public Information & Communication (COPIC), the Report and Advisory Board Review Commission, and the Mayor’s Management Report Update Roundtable.

In addition to serving on the aforementioned committees, CM Brewer has been a member of the Digital Literacy and Community Outreach Action Team (part of the New York State Universal Broadband Initiative); a member of the New York State Attorney General’s Real Estate Working Group/Subcommittee on Enforcement and Mediation; the New York Foundation Center Library Advisory Committee; and the Information Technology and Communications Committee of the National League of Cities. CM Brewer is a frequent attendee of tech events such as the NY Tech Meetup tech events, and she recently served as a judge at an NYC BigApps event.

She has been the sponsor of numerous laws that represent her commitment to open government, health and human rights, and quality of life. These include the first-in-the-nation Protection for Domestic Workers law (June 2003); creation of a blue-ribbon Broadband Advisory Committee to improve broadband services citywide (December 2005); establishment of an Electronic Death Registration system (February 2004); and legislation requiring City Publications to be made available via the Web (February 2003). Her latest initiatives signed into law include: A ban on smoking in parks and beaches (February 2011); a law to encourage the purchase of locally grown food (August 2011); the creation of an Accessible Pedestrian Signal program (April 2012); the landmark Open Data law (March 2012), requiring the city to publish most of its databases online in open, machine-readable formats; and one of the most progressive pieces of legislation ever adopted in the City Council, a law requiring that most businesses in the city of New York provide their workers with paid sick leave (May 2013).


- Opening remarks from CM Brewer (15 minutes)

- Question and Answer session with CM Brewer (30 minutes)

- Small group workshops on particular tech issues (15 minutes)

- Campaign office sharing general operation, daily tasks and volunteering opportunities( 15 minutes)

- Taking suggestions from audience to run campaign about using data(15 minutes)

- Final presentations / discussion (15 minutes)


- Tech issue:
Gale's technology issue paper can be found here: http://www.galebrewer.com/technology. This provides some more detailed information about some of the work Gale has done on tech issues, and what she would like to focus on as Borough President.
Another useful resource for what NYC is doing on technology, and where there is work left to do, can be found here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/digital/html/roadmap/roadmap.shtml.

- Campaign analytic need:
Gale's team has used Google Trends but not as a big resource. Facebook ads data is also available for analytic.  She has volunteers to do phonebanking every day. Responses are coded into NGP VAN in order to determine supporters and potential volunteers. undecided voters will be followed up.

- Fundraising analytic need:
Gale's team primarily uses events and emails. Email usage is restricted. Dear Neighbor letters are also distributed across the borough.

- Call for volunteering data scientists:
Any suggestions this meetup group can make as far as other opportunities for data usage and/or analytics would be greatly appreciated.

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