Brownsville’s Neighborhood Innovation Lab Teaches High School Students

Earlier this year, it was announced that Brownsville – a residential neighborhood located in eastern Brooklyn – would be home to NYC’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab. A series of strategic planning sessions and community forums focused on defining neighborhood needs were held and top priorities were defined of improving safety and cleanliness of public spaces, and strengthening access to healthy foods. The Lab has quickly become a hub for local collaboration, supported by the effort from residents, teachers, city staff, and tech companies to identify and to confront shared problems.

“We are thrilled to see the launch of the Brownsville Innovation Lab which will connect residents to resources, dynamic education opportunities and deliver a significant boost to economic development in the neighborhood,” said New York Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Osborn Plaza, a public space in Brownsville, serves as the anchor site for the lab. Technologies such as a solar-powered smart waste and recycling system and smart benches – which use solar power to offer free charging for mobile devices – have been demonstrated.

A new education program recently featured a youth innovators program workshop on how to develop solar-powered toy cars. The smart city education initiative aims to place 36 high school students into a program that teaches digital skills such as application development and product design. The goal is to reach about 1,000 Brownsville youth by the end of 2017. The workshops are part of a new “Young Innovators Program” designed to spur interest in technology careers.

“Neighborhood Innovation Labs are 21st century incubators for experimenting with how we can make our urban spaces more livable,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams. “I commend all the partners involved in rolling out these new smart city and tech education tools in Brownsville, a neighborhood that has been historically neglected while facing generational poverty.”