Heard Around Town

Mayor Adams touts tech solutions at Smart City Expo

Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer also previewed a new RFP process that will give the private sector greater input on government projects.

Mayor Eric Adams delivers remarks at the Smart City Expo USA on May 22, 2024.

Mayor Eric Adams delivers remarks at the Smart City Expo USA on May 22, 2024. Michael Appleton/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adams – the self-proclaimed “tech mayor” – opened the Smart City Expo at Pier 36 on Wednesday, calling on the audience to step up with solutions to New York City’s problems.

Adams, who was introduced by his chief technology officer Matt Fraser, left the technical details behind in his brief remarks, instead shouting out initiatives like expanding broadband in public housing buildings and using drones for public safety. “Technology is more than what you do for economic benefits. It’s what we do to benefit everyday New Yorkers,” he said.

The mayor was followed by Maria Torres-Springer, deputy mayor for housing and economic development. She ran down a few specific projects that currently have requests for proposals or expressions of interest out, including a climate innovation hub at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and a life sciences center in Kips Bay. Torres-Springer also previewed a more flexible approach to procurement that she said the administration is looking to roll out. While traditional RFPs typically describe in great detail the kind of solution a government is looking for in advance, Torres-Springer said that “challenge-based procurement” would see the city issue a “challenge or problem statement” and invite the private sector to come forward with their own solutions. 

“I know many here have worked with government, tried to work with government, banged their heads against the wall working with government, as we try to pilot technologies. We understand that, we want to make that easier,” she said, though she provided few additional details on how challenge-based procurement would work.

Crain’s New York Business reported earlier this month that the city spent a quarter of a million dollars as a sponsor of the Expo.