Brownsville – a residential neighborhood located in eastern Brooklyn in New York City – will be the first to have its own Neighborhood Innovation Lab. The tech equity initiative brings together community members, government, educators, and tech companies to help address neighborhood concerns with cutting-edge technologies.
Brownsville Community Justice Center serves as the lead community partner for the Brownsville Neighborhood Innovation Lab, and has led the formation of a community tech advisory board. Over the next four months, these community advisors will work with the city to define neighborhood needs and explore how smart city technologies can help improve quality of life and support local economic development. The first community forum, with activities for all ages, is scheduled for May 2017.
Also, beginning this summer, the first set of new technologies – including trash cans that alert sanitation workers when they are full, solar-powered benches that offer free cell phone charging, and interactive LinkNYC digital kiosks – will be rolled out in Brownsville. Community residents will be invited to test out these devices and share feedback that city agencies will use to evaluate the impact and value of these technologies.
Neighborhood Innovation Labs are supported by an initial $250,000-a-year funding allocation from the city. Based on the outcome of the first Neighborhood Innovation Lab in Brownsville, the city will explore expanding the initiative to all five boroughs.
“New York is a city of neighborhoods and there is no better way to prepare communities for the future than by empowering residents to define their needs and help our shape technology investments,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Neighborhood Innovation Labs provide a unique opportunity to strengthen our collaboration with community, and also open new doors for local residents to learn about careers in technology, a fast-growing sector of our economy.”