Miguel Gamiño last month moved from being San Francisco‘s Chief Information Officer to New York City’s Chief Technology Officer. Jonathan Andrews of Cities Today spoke to him as he settled into his new role and city
Were you headhunted from San Francisco to become New York City’s Chief Technology Officer? How did it occur?
New York City initially reached out to me asking if I knew of anybody for the role. The conversation just evolved into one of mutual interest. We talked through [the city’s] technology priorities and objectives and there was synergy.
Do you think a main reason for you being selected was because of your close connections in San Francisco–and successful partnerships you cultivated–with Google, Apple and others?
Before I moved into government, I created and managed a couple of startups, so I already had the technology connections and know-how, both of which have served me well in my public sector career. Being in San Francisco and literally next door to the biggest technology disruptors such as Twitter, Uber and Square with Silicon Valley in our backyard has allowed me to stay connected and plugged into innovative approaches and products. It’s been a tremendous influence on how we’ve moved in San Francisco and allowed us to deliver at scale to better serve the public. And, I’ll certainly be folding that knowledge and expertise into how we forge new relationships and cultivate existing partnerships in New York City while leveraging the relationships I already have in the Bay Area.
It’s only your first couple of weeks into the job but how do you compare New York’s smart city strategy to San Francisco?
There are a lot of similarities between New York and San Francisco. Becoming a smarter city is a priority for both cities and a topic we’ve discussed and where we’ve shared ideas. My aim now is to figure out the benefits and values of a ‘smart city’ and Internet of Things strategies and focus on how the outcomes can benefit the public and be measurable and sustainable.
New York is already smart. Now, it’s about elevating the work that we’re doing and becoming smarter.
What will be your main priorities as you take the helm?
Mayor de Blasio has made WiFi a priority with the goal of bringing the largest, fastest municipal WiFi network in the world and making internet accessibility inclusive for all.
We share a common belief that connectivity is the most important tool of the 21st century, the civilisation changer. The mayor pledged to bring connectivity to all New Yorkers by 2025, and I’m aiming to make that happen.
Second is our smart cities strategy. We won the Smart City Award in Barcelona for building a smart and equitable city. I’m thrilled to be getting on board with the best smart city in the world! My priority now is continuing to move the needle with the strategy and bringing the outcomes to life for the benefit of all New Yorkers.
Although different in size, population and scale, what experience can you bring from San Francisco to New York, and indeed El Paso, Texas where you were Chief Information Officer (CIO)?
I think I bring the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of El Paso and the startup culture and energy of San Francisco to New York City where I’ll be thinking bigger and elevating my game to take connectivity and our ‘smart city’ initiatives to the next level.
Do you think the role of CIO is becoming more transient–or more mobile–as many now move to different cities and bring with them their knowledge and experience?
Yes, absolutely. I think that the role of the CIO is less operational and more strategic than ever before. The CIO is looking at data and innovation to provide thought-leadership and guide better decision-making for the City as whole. Also, looking at the customer and how technology can provide better service. And, that’s relevant whether you’re in the private or public sector. For those of us in the public sector, the customer is the citizen.
While my role in New York City will be as Chief Technology Officer, I’ll be able to parlay my strategic thought-leadership as CIO for San Francisco into my new role.