When the mayor revealed his intention to hire individuals for a new unit less than a month before leaving office, the de Blasio administration agreed that New York City is in desperate need of a Digital Service Organization (DSO). “NYC Digital Services” is a program that applies best practices in modern, open source software development to New York City’s numerous software and technology concerns. Within two weeks of the first job advertising, the unavoidable occurred: Mayor Adams announced the appointment of a new Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to begin his administration on January 1.

The new CTO is Matthew Fraser, and he will be in charge of a newly created Office of Technology and Innovation. Which will consolidate nearly a half-dozen existing technology agencies and units under his leadership, including the Department of Information. And Technology (DoITT), Cyber Command, 311, and the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, thanks to Executive Order No. 3 of Adams (MODA).

So, who is Matthew Fraser, and what is he supposed to do?

A simple Google search for “Matthew Fraser New York City” yields the Linkedin and Twitter profiles. Which provide some hints that can help us answer the question that the city and state of New York have categorically posed. “The new technical chief by Eric Adams Could Bring New York Out of the Dark Ages?”

According to Fraser’s Linkedin profile, he was the NYPD’s Deputy Commissioner and Chief Information Officer for nearly two years. He previously worked as the Director of Consulting Services at Gartner, a technology consulting business. Prior to that, he worked for the NYPD for four years in technology strategy and for “New York City” for nine years in technology project management.

As far as I am aware, the NYPD has not implemented any of the DSO-style practices. That I and many other technologists frequently advocate for. The NYPD is not list on Github, a famous code-sharing platform where many important Digital Service Organization, such the Federal Government Postcode 18F. The United Kingdom Government UK Postcode, collect user feedback and recruit technical talent. In fact, the github.com/NYPD profile is owned by someone with an anime avatar. Indicating that the NYPD is uninterested in Github. The NYPD’s Github problem is one degree more embarrassing than DoITT’s blank Github page. According to the Digital Service Organization community, which sees submitting code and issues on Github as a critical element in their workflow. At the very least, DoITT has a catchy screen name!

Gartner

is known as a technology research firm & it is also one of the gatekeepers of the existing technology status quo. As well as one of the leading proponents of the kind of expensive proprietary business. Software that has repeatedly failed with government agencies and New York City residents. still.

Gartner and his colleagues at large enterprise IT software manufacturers perceive the open source Digital Service Organization movement as a threat to their primary business. They understand that if New York City excels at using open source software to develop their own solutions. Those corporations will lose hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts. Take my word for it, but don’t take my word for it. See how industry lobbying groups reacted to the success of 18F and the country’s largest DSO. He battled tooth and claw and attempted to use his congressional influence to weaken 18F’s capacity to compete with corporate suppliers!

Digital Service Organization – Twitter Information:

But just because Fraser worked for Gartner and the NYPD doesn’t imply he’s beholden to the IT suppliers that orbit both organizations. Or that he won’t be able to give current digital services to New Yorkers. Take a peek at Fraser’s Twitter page for more information.

As of January 20, 2022, the @NYPDTECH handle on Twitter. Still bears Matthew Fraser’s name and image, as well as a banner image of CompStat, the police department’s data-centric crime reporting tool. The feed’s content is standard NYPD fare, with nothing particularly tech-related. Fraser sends us this brief but informative film on his job and views. We can, however, read between the lines.

In this Twitter profile, Fraser is the epitome of NYPD technology. And if Mayor Adams has made one thing plain about his aspirations for the city. It is that he wants CompStat New York City.

CompStat is a system for collecting, analyzing, and displaying police data that was first introduced in New York in 1994. And is now used worldwide. It is not a single computer software, but rather a method of organizing crime and police information utilizing databases, GIS. Data analysis tools, which is subsequently used for situational awareness, success metrics, commander evaluation, responsibility, and other purposes. CompStat is incredibly important to the NYPD and Adams.

The following is an excerpt from the New Yorker article:

Adams was a member of the team that helped put together the initial releases. “I was simply a computer nerd,” he explained. “We were laying the groundwork for this new way of thinking. We had no clue we’d make such an influence. “Trust me, it was wonderful. “

The NYPD, in fact, adores data reports and dashboards, and if Fraser’s Linkedin profile is any indicator, putting them together is a significant part of his job. A brief examination of the NYPD website’s reports and dashboard section indicates that they are built with proprietary Microsoft technology. Rather than the open source technologies that a DSO would employ to construct the same type of interfaces. It’s likely that Fraser isn’t as conversant with open source solutions as many civic technologists would prefer, but that’s fine. Anyone who has built real systems with actual users understands the importance of starting with what works. And if Microsoft is delivering for the NYPD for around $ 2 million per year in contracts, then so be it. However, the issues he is going to encounter will necessitate far more intricate labor.

Digital Service Organization – Fraser

had the advantage of working within a single agency, governed by a central bureaucracy, with a (relatively) uniform system of procurement and assembly of technology solutions as the NYPD’s chief of technology. In his current post, his task with integrating key technology efforts across municipal agencies into a cohesive plan. He will undoubtedly confront many of the same issues that surfaced when the Obama administration sought to implement the program for the first time. HealthCare.gov, which has undertaken an audacious attempt to connect a plethora of proprietary software developed by several commercial companies. It utterly failed.

There has been a lot written about why it failed and the crack teams that arose to fix the problem utilizing open source components and startup-style development methodologies. After we fixed HealthCare.gov, those individuals went on to form America’s first Digital Service Organization, the US digital service and 18F.

Now, ten years later, there are a plethora of books, best practice guidelines, organizational models. And open source code available to assist in overcoming the challenges of building new digital services within government. With all of these advancements, it’s never been easier, technically speaking, to achieve. CompStat’s ambitious, reasonable (and, dare I say, necessary) vision for the city.

Conclusion

To gain access to this wealth of information, Fraser will have to leave the familiar world of proprietary software vendors and monolithic contracts. Journey into a less familiar, but highly friendly and collaborative open source environment of government digital services. If he and Adams are sincerely motivate the larger goal of reinventing city government. In the same way that CompStat revolutionized the police, I have no doubt that they will be enormously successful.