City Council Reso. # 1495
The New York City Council's Resolution # 1495 is the focus of this page.
- Council Approval - pending
- Council Hearing - October 17, 2008
- Resolution #1495 Introduced - June 29, 2008
- Council Hearing - Audio Report
- City Council Hearing Transcript (Partial)
- Connecting.nyc Inc. Council Presentation (See below.)
- Notice of October 17, 2008 City Council Public Hearing
- City Council Resolution # 1495 - June 28, 2008
- The .nyc TLD -
Creating Space on the Internet for a More Livable New York
Connecting.nyc Inc.’s presentation to
the New York City Council’s Technology in Government Committee
Honorable Gale Brewer, Chair
October 17, 2008
By Thomas Lowenhaupt, Founder and Director
• Good morning. I’m Thomas Lowenhaupt, other than my college years, I’m a life long New Yorker, having lived in Queens and Manhattan. For the past 27 years I’ve lived in JacksonHeights with my wife, Patricia. My career for the past 30 years has been as a developer of state-of-art interactive technologies, developing projects for giants such as Citicorp and Verizon’s predecessor organizations. But I’ve mostly worked for smaller organizations. Beginning in 1992 I served for 14 years as a member of Queens Community Board 3, holding several positions including vice chair and chair of its Technology Committee. My education includes a B.A. from QueensCollege with a focus on government studies, and a masters from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. Since 2005 I have been engaged full time advocating for the acquisition and development of the .nyc TLD.
• I’d like to begin by offering my thanks to the committee’s chair Gale Brewer for introducing and providing this opportunity to comment on Resolution 1495. And I would like to thank the co-sponsors, Council members Leroy Comrie, Robert Jackson, Letitia James, John Liu, Annabel Palma, Larry Seabrook and Thomas White Jr.
• I am joined at the table by Michael Palage, our ICANN advisor. Michael is an attorney, an expert on Internet’s domain name system, and a former board member of ICANN, the organization with the responsibility for issuing the .nyc TLD. Michael will comment on the ICANN application process. And I’m joined by Hannah Kopelman, a technology advocate and artist and head of our Resident Advisory Network. Hannah will comment on the ways the public can participate in our decision making processes.
• My presentation will touch on 5 areas:
• First: What’s a TLD and why is it important to New Yorkers and New York City?
• Second: I’ll review the origin of our organization and what we’ve done to date.
• Third: What still needs to be done
• Fourth: How city government can help
• Finally: Some closing remarks
• First, What’s a TLD and why is it important?
• The .nyc TLD (or top level domain) is like .com, .org, or .gov but just for New York City.
• Upon acquiring .nyc we will have the ability to issue the entire set of 2nd level domain names under .nyc. Familiar second level domain names in the .com world are aol, yahoo, amazon, google.com, etc.
• The first thing we get with a TLD are good domain names. Good domain names are those that are short, descriptive, and memorable. Coke.com. IBM.com. In New York City, short is especially important in the realm of retail, where stores need to identify themselves using the available signage above their establishments. Joes-Bar.nyc might fit on that sign above the store while Joes-bar-in-New-York-City.com doesn’t. So good domain names are short, descriptive, and memorable.
• Our effort originated in JacksonHeights where most of the residents are immigrants or young adults just starting out in the business world. Neither of these groups were around in1995 when the good .com names were available. Today, there are no good domain names left in the .com TLD. None. 80,000,000 .com names have been issued.
• When we receive the rights to .nyc we will have a full set of domain names. Good domain names for small businesses. Joe-the-plumber.nyc. Juliaswritings.nyc, Igors-bright-idea.nyc, juans-cars.nyc.
• The second thing that comes with domain names is identity. Every one of these good domain names will say “made in” or “from” New York City.
• Portals are a third benefit. Names such as schools.nyc and hospitals.nyc will organize our resources for residents. And for tourist and business visitors there will be portals such as hotels.nyc, and tours.nyc.
• Perhaps more important is the role .nyc can play in enabling residents to connect with one another. A city’s traditional role is that of a meeting place where ideas and goods are shared and exchanged. With the globalization that was enabled in large part by the .com Internet, our city no longer benefits from proximity as it once did. And there is no New York City on the Internet.
• There are other benefits such as a more intuitive internet, and being more findable in search engines. These benefits are discussed in detail on our website.
• Next, a review of Connecting.nyc Inc.’s origins and those things we’ve done to date to make .nyc a reality.
• I set our official birth date of our effort as April 19, 2001 - the date Queens Community Board 3 passed the Internet Empowerment Resolution, calling for .nyc’s acquisition. After its passage in 2001, our council members, congress member, and borough president took steps to make the Resolution a reality. City Hall also took notice. But the 9/11 tragedy took .nyc off the front burner as we addressed far more vital matters.
• In 2003, when the ICANN issued a Request for Proposals for a “proof of concept” for new TLDs, I initiated an effort to encourage City Hall to submit an application. But more pressing matters faced the city and the opportunity passed.
• In 2005 I was contacted by the developers of the .berlin TLD who encouraged me to again pursue the effort. My initial inclination was to encourage an existing organization to do so and I contacted several. But after some discussions and recalling my failure to ignite interest in 2003, and more importantly, having examined the nature of the operation of a TLD, I concluded that a not-for-profit corporation, broadly representative of our diverse city, and committed to the operation of the TLD in the public interest, was the best approach. And in 2006 we initiated steps to create Connecting.nyc Inc. as a New YorkState not-for-profit.
• Connecting.nyc Inc. seeks a more city-friendly Internet, where a carefully planned and managed TLD will make it easier for both residents and visitors to locate city resources within a safe environment.
• Third, What we’ve accomplished.
• We created a not-for-profit corporation to acquire and develop the .nyc TLD. Our not-for-profit status arises by virtue of our long-term role as educator of the public about .nyc and the multiple roles it can play in our city’s growth and development. That educational role will be small at the outset but sustained for the long term as we train and educate New Yorkers about the role and possibilities of a TLD. Our application for IRS 501(c)(3) status is pending.
• We’ve developed several online resources:
• We have a website at www.connectingnyc.org, that includes a petition feature. If you’ve not had the opportunity to sign it, please do so.
• We have a wiki with over 100 pages of ideas and resources on how to the .nyc TLD can become a reality that serves the public interest of New York and New Yorkers. It works much like Wikipedia and enables the public to participate in our deliberations.
• And in December 2007, we started a blog. To my mind it’s the most engaging part of our online efforts.
• We’ve met, in person, with over 85 organizations to explain our proposal. Chambers of Commerce, Civic organizations, Kiwanis Cubs, community boards, government departments...
• We’ve made presentations at conferences such as the Grassroots Media Conference and New Media Day at LaGuardia community College.
• We’ve attended dozens of civic events to explain our effort, answer questions, and seek suggestions.
• In January we initiated The Civic Project to identify the names of neighborhoods and civic organizations so that we might set them aside to be made available when we begin to issue .nyc domain names.
• We’ve met with our local city and state elected officials, with members of the city council, DoITT, three of the Borough Presidents, and we’ve reached out to NYC&Company.
• In June, during Internet Week, we handed out flyers in front of the MunicipalBuilding asking city employees to provide their ideas on domain names we might set aside to aide the operation of local government.
• We reached out globally to work with and learn from other cities:
• We’ve developed the Paris Understanding, an emerging agreement on sharing best practices by developers of dotCity domains for Paris, Barcelona, Berlin and New York City.• We’re working with ICANN to create, on their website, a place where their experiences with governance, particularly multistakeholderism, will be organized for use by the developers of city TLDs.
• We’ve attended ICANN related meetings in Prague, Paris, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, and WashingtonD.C. to familiarize the ICANN community about the needs of cities and the role of TLDs in facilitating local communication.
• And we’ve met with the U.S. Department of Commerce to apprise them of the importance of a city domain to good city governance and the creation of a more livable city.
• Finally, we recently began a round of meetings for our Civic Names Project that will take us to the city’s 59 community boards.
• Fourth, What remains to be done:
• We need to develop an application that convinces ICANN that we are capable of operating the .nyc TLD, with the technical, management, and financial wherewithal to do so.
• We need to convince ICANN that we have the support of the city and community of New York.
• The most challenging task that I’ve faced, that we face, has been creating a governance structure for our organization. As we’ve met with dozens of organizations and hundreds of people over the past few years, a consistent issue I’ve raised is governance, how do people think .nyc oversight should be organized and if they’d like to participate.
• Today we have four members on our board of directors and I believe a fifth coming on board soon. These are all individual members who are enthusiastic about our effort, technologically adept, and who have committed time to devote to the effort.
• But there’s a more important membership cadre that we seek to include in our governance structure, existing institutions. For example, last year we discussed with Queens Borough President Helen Marshall about her interest in serving on our board. She suggestion that all of the Borough Presidents be represented in ex-officio capacities. We are working to implement that now. We would also like to have a representative of the city council on our board. As well, several city entities that will have a special connection with domain names should also be represented in our governance processes: NYC&Company, DoITT, Consumer Affairs, and Small Business Services, mimimally. Finally, the chambers of commerce should be represented and civil society.
• How can the city help us.
• The ICANN, the organization responsible for issuing the .nyc TLD, requires that a city-TLD applicant provide evidence of approval by its city. If we are to move forward in an expeditious manner, we require a clear indication of support from the city council. As well, to avoid possible confusion, we require a similar indication of support from the office of the mayor.
• The ICANN will soon issue the draft RFP indicating among other things, the fee that must accompany our application. We expect that it will be in the six figure range. Council and mayoral approval of our effort will assist us in meeting our funding needs.
• Our application will also require approval of the U.S. Department of Commerce. City support of our effort will enable us to begin taking steps to secure Commerce’s OK of our effort.
• Finally, governance. As I mentioned, there are a number of city entities that we would like to have involved in our governance processes. We have postponed making certain decisions until we have a broader and more diverse governance structure. With the council’s approval of our effort, we would speak from strength in encouraging the chambers of commerce and entities representing the libraries and other civil society members to participate in our governance processes.
• Closing Remarks
• In closing I’d like to address two frequently asked questions.
• The first question I’m asked is "Is there money in it?"
• Once the ICANN made its June 25th decision that cities can have TLDs, money became a frequently asked question. My answer is that there’s big money or there’s enough money.
• BIG MONEY - If we were to give the .nyc TLD to an avaricious developer, without any limitations on its use, there’d be a quick fortune to be made modeling the TLD as real estate. “How much am I bid for TimesSquare.nyc?” “What’s the bid for CentralPark.nyc?” Such an auction would probably raise considerable bank account for an individual of firm, and I’ve no doubt that a community benefits package would offer to put some of it back into our neighborhoods. The down side of this is we'd sell our city's soul, and have little control over our future. And when a digitally organized .Berlin or .Paris present themselves as livable cities where people happily visit and businesses fruitfully operate, we'll be at a disadvantage. And we'll have missed a huge opportunity (probably the only one) to plan our city's place in the digital world.
• ENOUGH MONEY - We can allocate names to those who need or will best develop them - city government, civic organizations, small businesses, to help boost our tourism resources, to build the .nyc brand. AFTER we've used the TLD to help create a more livable city, .nyc domain names will be highly desirable with their sale generating excess financial resources that we’ll dedicate to our education efforts aimed at reducing the digital divide.
• The second frequently asked question is: "Why wouldn't NYC&Company or DoITT take this on?"
• First, it's a totally different line of business. Most basically, operating a TLD involves the highly technical operation of a domain name registry that must always work, that must comply with evolving global Internet standards, and that must network with various root servers around the globe.
• As well, it is imperative that the registry operator coordinate with ICANN and other Internet governance entities; establish standards and processes for determining who gets which name; that it educates the New York City community on the effective use of .nyc domain names to support business, community, and the city's global brand.
• There are many different needs that can be met by the .nyc TLD. For example, of the millions of possible .nyc domain names, NYC&Company, will be interested in developing various "tourist names" - hotels.nyc, tours.nyc, visit.nyc and the like, names that promote the city's brand. It is unlikely that its priority would be assuring that civic names are equitably distributed, that Joseph Smith the 3rd gets his josephsmiththe3rd.nyc domain name in a timely manner. And that Mr. Smith uses it within the standards established by the community.
• As well, I don't see a city agency being eager to make decisions on sensitive names, e.g., the-mayor-sucks.nyc. We selected our not-for-profit model after seeing the success of the governance model created for cable TV's public access channels in the early 1980s. In that instance, one not-for-profit per borough was created - MNN, QPTV... This arms-length governance removed city government from a censors role, and, in case a bare breast might be seen on the channels, distanced council members and the mayor from irate citizens.
• Most important a dedicated entity such as Connecting.nyc Inc. can support the multitude of roles the TLD must play in promoting tourism AND small businesses, civic organizations, city government, neighborhoods, individuals, and making .nyc a medium for addressing the issues and opportunities that face our city.
• NYC&Company, the Police Department, Consumer Affairs, DoITT, Small Business Services and for-profit companies could operate the .nyc TLD. But we've established a broad view of the .nyc TLDs role as supporting the entire New York City community. And, with 10 years involvement with its development, and important connections with New York City and the global Internet community, Connecting.nyc inc. brings the expertise and focus to develop the city’s TLD in an effective manner.
• Thank you.
Thomas Lowenhaupt then introduced Michael Palage who said a few words on governance and project timing. And finally, Hannah Kopelman who spoke on the need to engage people in our processes.
We then entered into a Q & A Session on governance.