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Digital services can restore trust in government, NYC official says

Improving digital services for city residents will play a role in the restoration of trust in government, John Paul Farmer, the chief technology officer of New York City, told a conference audience this week. “In the 1960s, Pew Research polled the American public and found that 88 percent have faith in their government institutions,” Farmer said Tuesday on a panel at the Smart City World Expo in Barcelona, Spain. “That number is now between 13 and 15 percent. There are a lot of reasons for that.”

That decline in trust, he said, puts a greater onus on government officials to connect with their constituents by providing digital services that reach them in their communities.

“There’s this growing divide between the experience that someone has getting services from the private sector, versus what they get from their own government,” he said. “That’s something we can fix. The trust that people put in their government has to be backed up by action, it has to be backed up by what we deliver to them.”

The divide between the quality of services offered by the private and public sectors presents a quandary for a city like New York, Farmer said, because the city needs to roll out more responsive, mobile-enabled services for its residents while still closing a digital divide that leaves many poorer neighborhoods without robust internet access. It’s up to city technology officials to address that gap, he said.

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