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New Rochelle Competes in Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2018 Mayors Challenge

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY — Immersive technology is emerging technology- and as part of the Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge, New Rochelle is exploring how it can be leveraged to connect residents and businesses with the City’s growing downtown.

Last year, the City- in partnership with the Business Improvement District and IDEA New Rochelle (the Interactive Digital Environments Alliance) –proposed the idea of using virtual and augmented reality technology to help citizens visualize development plans and increase their involvement in the planning process. In January, the City team was pleased to learn that they were one of 35 semifinalist Champion cities from across the nation chosen by Bloomberg Philanthropies to test their idea with a $100,000 grant, and compete further in the Mayor’s Challenge for a grand prize of $5 million.

The first phase of the competition brings their idea out from the drawing board, explained Amelia Winger-Bearskin of IDEA New Rochelle. “It is exciting for me that this Bloomberg Challenge becomes like an ‘R&D Innovation lab’ for selected champion cities to experiment and try out emerging technologies. Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are already being used by major companies, architects and developers to create and design large-scale projects.  We are interested to see how citizens and our City officials can use these tools to become an example to other cities on how to foster civic engagement leveraging new technologies”

“Virtual reality headsets or augmented reality phone apps might be helpful when it comes to both visioning and envisioning development projects,” said Jennifer Furioli of the BID. “But in order to prove this, we need feedback from residents and businesses throughout the City.” To get that information, the New Rochelle team, during this first stage or “sprint” will be visiting parks, shopping centers and other locations during the spring with an online survey to gauge awareness and relevance of the technology. The survey will be available until August 1.  The survey results will be used to refine a hands-on session to follow in June. And, everyone who participates in the survey is entered in a drawing to win a $200 visa gift-card.

“Robust public participation is essential to shaping New Rochelle’s growth and evolution,” said Mayor Noam Bramson. “This exciting initiative will help all of us better visualize, design, and contribute to our community’s future.”

New Rochelle’s testing phase continues with an interactive workshop on Saturday, June 16th at the BID’s Downtown Grand Market, where the Mayors’ Challenge team will be on hand to talk with the public about this innovative idea and receive feedback on the different technology tools they are testing. The “Test, Learn, Adapt” phase is provided through a Bloomberg Challenge Grant of $100,000. For more information visit