In a new recurring feature, First Read Tech will be talking to leaders in government and technology about the intersection of the two fields and how New York can lead through innovation. Today’s interview is with Amit Agarwal, chief information officer at the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
You joined the Taxi and Limousine Commission as CIO eight months ago. What are some of the biggest responsibilities on your plate right now?
I think the biggest thing today is that the taxi and ride-hail industry is evolving a lot. The drivers, in particular, are stressed. From my perspective, I want to ensure that we provide the best technology we can to make life as simple as possible from a technology standpoint. And what that means is probably building newer and better systems to interact with our ride-hail licensees – safeguarding their data – and, at the same time, being able to share their data more transparently.
What is the TLC doing to protect that data?
We don’t have all the citywide policies in place and we’re working on it as a city. But the TLC is collaborating with the Department of Transportation, for example, to see how we can improve and evolve these kinds of security and privacy standards. As we keep getting more and more data today, this policy will need to keep evolving as well.
Any other big projects underway?
We collect, on average, close to a million trip records a day. And we’ve got to make sure we have all the resources in place to safeguard this data. We’ve got to make sure we have all the resources in place to ensure that this ever-growing volume of data, that we have enough storage for it. And we also have to make sure that we can collect the data in a cleaner and quicker way. Today that’s not the case; sometimes, we don’t get great data. We have to go back and forth with all the providers and we’ve got to make sure that the data is clean and then we process it. It takes a long time. Our goal, really, is to provide some sort of a portal and innovate with the Ubers and Lyfts to understand how they can give us better data more frequently, so we can make better decisions around public safety and reduce overall processing time.
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Correction: Agarwal referred to an "ever-growing volume of data." The phrase was originally transcribed incorrectly.