First Read Tech

High-tech bus stop signs fall short … Behind New York’s illegal Airbnb empire … Mr. Cuomo goes to Israel … and more of today’s tech news

A bus stop with countdown clocks. | MTA Flickr account
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High-tech bus stop signs fall short
Countdown clocks have sprouted at more than 500 MTA bus stops citywide over the last five years, offering one way for commuters to learn how long they’ll have to wait, but in a spot-check of 40 countdown clocks across the five boroughs, one out of every five of the high-tech signs didn’t work. (The City)

Behind New York’s illegal Airbnb empire
From 2015 to 2019, an alleged illegal hotel scheme in New York City masterminded by real-estate agent Elvis Tominovic earned more than $5 million in revenue through Airbnb for booking 24,330 rooms and housing 63,873 guests in what city officials describe as dangerous and unsanitary conditions. (Wired)

Report paints picture of confusion at DoITT
After New York City’s wireless network went down in April, confusion, poor communication and a lack of coordination hampered attempts to get it working again, according to a report released on Friday. (The New York Times)

Mr. Cuomo goes to Israel
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is heading to Israel on Wednesday, in part to promote economic development for the state as he seeks to draw Israeli tech firms to New York to help modernize the subway and develop new drone technology. (Daily News)

Lawmakers grill TLC officials at hearing
The New York City Council excoriated the city officials who oversee the taxi industry on Monday, blaming them for a financial crisis that has ruined drivers and releasing a document that lawmakers said showed the officials knew for years that a disaster was looming. (The New York Times)

Putting a price on data
U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Josh Hawley are introducing legislation in a bipartisan effort to require Facebook, Google, Amazon, and other major platforms to disclose the value of their users’ data. (Axios)

U.S. considers ban on foreign-made 5G equipment
The Trump administration is examining whether to require that next-generation 5G cellular equipment used in the U.S. be designed and manufactured outside China – a move that could reshape global manufacturing and further fan tensions between the countries. (The Wall Street Journal)

Toronto debates Alphabet’s waterfront plans
Toronto got its first detailed look Monday at the vision from Alphabet for a high-tech remake of part of its waterfront, but the plan has faced pushback, with some asking whether Toronto was taking its embrace of technology too far by giving one company so much leeway to create a community. (The New York Times)


City should manage traffic, not taxi medallion values
Government cannot be in the bailout business, but it should ensure that people can get around town. Congestion fees must have that sole purpose and not be discounted for taxis out of sympathy or to boost medallion values. That’s not tough love – it’s responsible governing. (Crain’s New York Business)

School facial recognition is creepy
No one denies the safety of students and faculty is of utmost importance, but measures aimed at keeping them secure should be based on a myriad of factors, including actual risk, and in conjunction with local police departments and other law enforcement agencies. (Michael Sapraicone, Daily News)


Alphabet’s Toronto plan relies on data
Alphabet says data collection is essential to building a new kind of urban space, where traffic, pollution, and noise levels are calibrated to keep residents happy. The company’s approach follows the lead of tech-influenced urban planners, who believe a more rigorous approach to city planning might create places more pleasant for all. (Wired)


The WeWork for therapists
Alma, a membership-based group for mental health professionals, launched in October 2018 with a location on Madison Avenue, where local mental health providers can apply for membership to use the space to treat patients, as well as form relationships with other therapists. The company has raised $8 million in funding toward an expansion. (CNN)

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