New York is the largest city in the United States and an international center of the arts, communication, business services, finance, education and, increasingly, technology. More than 60 million tourists visit each year. The city is thriving by conventional economic measures.

Its population has grown 5.5 per cent since 2010 to a record high of 8.6 million in 2017. Employment has steadily grown since the recession of 2008 to the highest level on record, 4.4 million. Unemployment is at its lowest level in more than 40 years. Median household income increased by 25 per cent from 2006 to 2016 to CAD78,114.

The city has many basic strengths, including good public infrastructure. The public transit system serves 55 per cent of commuters (compared with 4.9 per cent nationally). As a result, the city has the highest percentage of car-free households of any US city. The 12,140 hectares of public parks occupy 14 per cent of the land in the city. Underground aqueducts bring a high-quality water supply from the Catskill Mountains. The New York City Housing Authority owns 176,000 low-income housing units (8 per cent of the city inventory). However, much of this infrastructure was built more than 50 years ago.

Some city agencies have an impressive record of innovation and accomplishment. The crime rate, for example, has steadily declined since 1990 to the lowest level since reliable records have been kept.

Although New York scores well on these measures, it remains a city of haves and have-nots. The poverty rate has held steady around 19 to 21 per cent for the past 40 years. The cost of housing and homelessness has risen. Repeated efforts to improve public education have not achieved the desired results.

Superstorm Sandy caused about CAD78 billion in damage from flooding in the New York City region in 2012. It highlighted a vulnerability to sea level rise and storm surge that will grow more acute.

In the past decade, the city has produced two plans that seek to prepare for the future and introduce new measures that go beyond traditional economic indicators. The first, issued in 2007, PlaNYC, set three main objectives: prepare for an increase in population of one million over two decades, repair aging infrastructure and reduce carbon emissions by 30 per cent. OneNYC, issued in 2015, set four goals: economic growth, equality (less poverty), sustainability and resiliency.

So far planning efforts have not led to adequate funding and implementation. The problems are particularly serious in transport infrastructure, where the approach of making the most of investments by earlier generations is no longer working. Efforts to address the exposure to sea level rise and storm surge have been undertaken at a local, rather than a regional level and may not be sufficiently comprehensive, especially if more pessimistic long-term forecasts prove correct.

PLACES

Score: 7.3/10
HOUSING

HOUSING

Score: 6.5/10

New York has a plan to build and preserve 300,000 units of affordable housing between 2014 and 2026. The New York City Department of City Planning has mandated an affordable housing component (typically 20 to 30 per cent) for residential developments requiring discretionary approval.

Despite these efforts, in the past seven years an annual average of 15,000 new housing units have been completed while the population has grown by more than 60,000 each year. Supply is not keeping up with demand. The residential vacancy rate is down to 3.6 per cent.

The New York City Housing Authority faces a massive challenge in maintaining aging apartment buildings that require an estimated CAD32.5 billion in repairs, reflecting reductions in federal assistance and many years of under-investment.

There is a growing mismatch between the rate of new residential construction and the cost of housing, and the rapidly growing population and the ability of many residents to pay market rents. Homelessness is on the rise. Although the city has developed plans, incorporated affordable housing requirements into the land-use approval process and invested money, housing affordability remains an intractable problem. Ironically, the overall economic health and growth of the city has undercut these efforts.

PUBLIC REALM

PUBLIC REALM

Score: 8.0/10

New York City has invested heavily in parks and public spaces and has steadily dedicated more street space to pedestrians and bicycles.

Many miles of waterfront areas that had been devoted to port and industrial uses have been converted to parks and walkways. These include the Hudson and East River waterfronts, Governors Island and the Gateway National Park. The High Line Park, built on an unused elevated freight rail line, has established a new standard for innovation in park design. The massive Fresh Kills Landfill is becoming a park.

URBAN GREEN SPACE

URBAN GREEN SPACE

Score: 8.0/10

In the past 10 years, the city has planted more than a million trees in its parks, on its streets and on private land, increasing its urban forest area by more than 20 per cent. These trees provide several benefits, including improving air quality, reducing urban temperatures, and sequestering carbon dioxide, while also mitigating stormwater runoff.

In addition, New York’s 2010 Green Infrastructure Plan has resulted in the construction of more than 4,000 green infrastructure assets, including rain gardens (bio-swales) and green roofs, which has reduced stormwater runoff and combined sewer overflow events.

SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

SOCIAL INFRASTRUCTURE

Score: 8.0/10

Ensuring adequate social infrastructure to support New York’s educational and healthcare needs presents ever-changing problems. Although home to some of the world’s leading universities and healthcare facilities, providing equitable education and healthcare for all New Yorkers is always a challenge.

One of the city’s largest educational successes was the introduction of one year of pre-kindergarten to public schools, which is proposed to be expanded to two years.

The city provides support to many private educational institutions and has given funds and land for the new Cornell-Technion engineering school. In addition, the city provides funding support to its many cultural institutions.

CLIMATE CHANGE

CLIMATE CHANGE

Score: 6.0/10

In the past decade, New York has emerged as a global leader in efforts to pinpoint climate risk and implement policies to reduce the city’s contributions to Global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emission levels. In 2008, the New York City Panel on Climate Change developed projections of climate change effects that have been used to assess the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure assets. In addition, the city has developed a plan to reduce its GHG emissions by more than 90 per cent below 2005 levels by 2050, becoming one of the first global mega-cities to develop such an ambitious plan.

As a coastal city, New York is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Current projections for 2100 are for a high probability of a one-meter sea level rise and about a 10 per cent chance of a two-meter rise. There is potential for a storm surge of considerably more meters on top of the sea level rise.

Despite the devastating destruction of Superstorm Sandy (a surge of almost three meters at the southern tip of Manhattan), the city does not have an effective strategy to protect the 870 kilometers of coastline in the harbor against the storm surges expected at the end of the century. The city’s approach is to build a perimeter protection along the shoreline. Plans are in development for southern Manhattan, Red Hook, Staten Island and other neighbourhoods, but the feasibility of building such barriers, which by the end of the century would likely need to be six or more meters tall, is uncertain. The required funding is not in place.

New York is one of the most vulnerable big cities in the USA to sea level rise and storm surge. The number of people and the value of the assets exposed to potential inundation in the long-term make addressing this problem perhaps the top priority in preparing for the future.

Mobility

MOBILITY

Score: 6.3/10
INFRASTRUCTURE: PUBLIC TRANSIT

INFRASTRUCTURE: PUBLIC TRANSIT

Score: 5.5/10

New York has extensive subway and commuter rail systems that attract greater patronage than other US cities. The system was largely put in place more than half a century ago. It has not been expanded enough to meet a growing population and is starting to show its age. After years of increases, subway and bus ridership has declined and the quality of service (measured by travel times, frequency of outages, and on-time performance) has deteriorated. Extended closures of rail lines to make repairs have become a fact of life. Flooding from Superstorm Sandy and other weather events have added to the disruptions and reduced the reliability of service.

This year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) released its Fast Forward plan, which calls for replacing the subway signal system, which dates back 100 years on some lines, to increase both the frequency and reliability of the service, and taking a comprehensive look at the bus service.

The MTA has extended the No. seven subway line to service a dense new office and residential district on the West Side of Manhattan and recently opened the first segment of a new Second Avenue Subway line. These are significant steps forward but fall short of the expansion in capacity needed.

New York State is expanding Penn Station, the busiest station in the US, into the landmark Farley Post Office which will become Moynihan Station. The railroads have not agreed on a plan for increasing the track and platform capacity at the overcrowded station. Plans for a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River — the first since the early twentieth century — have been developed but funding is not in place.

The region has multiple transit agencies that serve portions of three states. They have yet to agree on an integrated fare payment system.

LOGISTICS & FREIGHT PRODUCTIVITY

LOGISTICS & FREIGHT PRODUCTIVITY

Score: 6.5/10

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s container port facilities are the busiest in the eastern US and the volume of freight has been growing. There is capacity to accommodate the increasingly large container ships, which can access the ports now that the ship channels have been dredged and the roadbed of the Bayonne Bridge raised. Many of the terminals are served by rail. A port master plan is nearing completion that will establish a strategy for moving ahead.

The Port Authority has prepared a regional goods movement plan that provides a framework for all government jurisdictions in the region to address growing freight volumes.

Rail freight access to the city is extremely limited. It is not clear that enhancing freight rail service into the city will be achieved, given the capital and operating costs, the nature of the freight travelling in and out, and the constraints of the existing infrastructure. There are no separate, dedicated routes for trucks in the city.

New York airports continue to be leaders in the quantity and value of air freight.

GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY

GLOBAL CONNECTIVITY

Score: 5.5/10

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey operates three airports in the New York metropolitan area; LaGuardia and JFK in New York and Newark International in New Jersey. The airports service a multitude of destinations but are notorious for flight delays and do not provide the quality of service and amenity found in other world-class cities. Vice President Biden famously described LaGuardia Airport as a Third World experience. Newark International is the only airport providing one-seat rail access to Manhattan.

Moves have begun to substantially rebuild LaGuardia, replace a major terminal at Newark International and provide better rail access. The funding to bring JFK and Newark up-to-date is not in place. A Port Authority study has established that it will be necessary to build at least one additional runway to meet growing demand.

INFRASTRUCTURE: PEDESTRIANS & CYCLING

INFRASTRUCTURE: PEDESTRIANS & CYCLING

Score: 8.0/10
The city has almost 200 kilometers of bicycle lanes. The Citi Bike sharing system has 750 stations and 12,000 bicycles, and is continuously expanding its footprint and ridership. During temperate months, the number of daily Citi Bike trips regularly tops 70,000. The number of bicycle injuries and fatalities per kilometer of cycling has steadily declined since 2000. BUILT FORM: PARKING PROVISIONS

BUILT FORM: PARKING PROVISIONS

Score: 7.0/10
Parking demand has declined in the central business district and at the airports. The rapid growth of for-hire vehicles using app-based technology and a decline in cars entering the central business district (between 2006 and 2016) have contributed to the decline in demand for parking. FUTURE MOBILITY: SERVICES

FUTURE MOBILITY: SERVICES

Score: 5.5/10
New York has more than 100,000 for-hire vehicles, including more than 50,000 vehicles providing app-based service through Transportation Network Companies (TNC). The number of these vehicles has doubled in the past few years and this year the city imposed an interim cap on any further increases. As a result, New Yorkers have access to a wide variety of price-competitive on-demand and ride-share services. The private sector also offers car rental for short periods of time. The proliferation of TNC vehicles has resulted in increased congestion in the central business districts. FUTURE MOBILITY: TECHNOLOGY

FUTURE MOBILITY: TECHNOLOGY

Score: 6.0/10

In the past few years the city’s Department of Transportation has been conducting a Connected Vehicle Pilot program, in conjunction with the US Department of Transportation Intelligent Transportation Systems Joint Program Office, to deploy, test and activate mobile and roadside technologies and enable multiple connected vehicle applications. The pilot is focused on developing and deploying more than 15 safety applications to provide in-vehicle warnings to motorists behind the wheel. The pilot involves installing Vehicle to Vehicle technology in up to 8,000 vehicles, including cars, taxis, trucks, pick-up trucks and buses, as well as infrastructure as part of the Vehicle to Infrastructure (V2I) portion of the pilot throughout Midtown. This includes upgrading traffic signals with V2I technology along several bridges, highways, avenues and cross streets.

For the past decade, there have been repeated efforts to introduce congestion pricing to the Manhattan central business district. On two occasions, cordon pricing proposals, modeled on the systems in London, Stockholm and Singapore, have failed to pass in the state legislature.

New York State is supporting an effort to test autonomous vehicles in the city in 2018.

One goal is for all vehicles sold in the city to be plug-ins by 2025. The city plans to accelerate this shift to electric vehicles by investing CAD13 million in the installation of 50 fast-charging hubs across the city by 2020.

Technology

TECHNOLOGY

Score: 7.5/10
CONNECTIVITY & INFRASTRUCTURE

CONNECTIVITY & INFRASTRUCTURE

Score: 8.0/10

The city has taken big steps towards building its connectivity, creating new positions focused on telecommunications infrastructure and policy, and establishing the Broadband Task Force.

It is estimated that New York accounts for about three per cent of the world’s web traffic, even though it is home to only 0.1 per cent of the world’s population. At present 22 per cent of city households lack broadband internet at home. Affordability of internet services is cited as the main barrier to broadband adoption in New York. Thirty-six per cent of households below the poverty line do not have internet access at home, twice the rate of households living above it.

Under the OneNYC 2018 report, the city plans to provide affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband service to every resident and business by 2025. The city will conduct research on the latest broadband developments and trends to help inform the city’s strategy on connectivity.

FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS

FIXED INTERNET: SPEEDS & FEEDS

Score: 7.0/10

New York is a competitive market when it comes to broadband coverage in the US. With 59 per cent of the population covered by 72 fiber providers, the city ranks fourth in the country. Its gaps in broadband choice are still troubling. The city has strengthened its regulatory powers and developed a stronger relationship with telecommunications through continuing implementation of Connect NYC Fiber Access to create broadband redundancy.

The average download speed in New York is 49.19 Mbps. This is 28 per cent faster than the national average.

MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT

MOBILE INTERNET: WI-FI, 5G, NARROWBAND IOT

Score: 8.0/10
New York and CityBridge, a NYC-based consortium, brought LinkNYC, a first-of-its-kind communications network that will replace more than 7,500 pay phones across the five boroughs with new structures called Links. Each Link provides fast, free public Wi-Fi, phone calls, device charging and a tablet for access to city services, maps and directions. OPEN DATA

OPEN DATA

Score: 8.0/10
The City of New York, New York State and the Federal Government all have free websites containing published government data that are accessible to any citizen who can get online. NYC Open Data makes the wealth of public data generated by various city agencies and other city organizations available for public use. As part of an initiative to improve the accessibility, transparency and accountability of the city government, this catalog offers access to a repository of government-produced, machine-readable data sets. INFORMATION & DATA SECURITY

INFORMATION & DATA SECURITY

Score: 6.0/10
New York is making progress on data privacy and protecting valuable assets online. The mayor has appointed the city’s first Chief Privacy Officer, a position created to enhance and coordinate responsible citywide data-sharing practices and to further improve how the city uses data to inform responsible, equitable policies. New York is creating a Citywide Data Integration legal framework that will establish a governance structure and the data security protocols required when agencies exchange data in multiagency initiatives to benefit citizens. PLANNING & POLICY

PLANNING & POLICY

Score: 8.0/10

The city has taken big steps towards building its capacity, creating positions focused on telecommunications infrastructure and policy, and establishing the Broadband Task Force, an advisory body of experts in broadband technology, real estate development, venture capital and digital equity. The aim is to create new franchises or enlarge existing ones and embrace alternative service models to expand infrastructure, produce more competition, and increase affordability by 2025. Investment will go into providing high-speed residential access either free or at low cost for low income communities.

The city also plans to expand the LinkNYC network. It has called for innovative ways of targeting the needs of under-served residential and commercial customers, perhaps by leveraging public and private infrastructure.

Urban Systems

URBAN SYSTEMS

Score: 7.5/10
POWER GENERATION & DISTRIBUTION

POWER GENERATION & DISTRIBUTION

Score: 7.3/10

New York’s power supply is among the least carbon-intensive in the US, with nuclear and hydro generation accounting for half its needs. Although distributed generation resources are growing, the city does not control the grid generation assets. The official goal is to achieve 50 per cent renewable energy by 2030.

Con Edison serves the private market, and New York Power Authority has a role in suppling public-sector buildings. The city and Con Edison have supported state-level initiatives to improve energy efficiency, increase renewable energy and reduce GHG emissions.

However, New York has a very dense core, especially Manhattan and Brooklyn. Electricity must be imported to these core areas and, if generated locally, cannot take up a large footprint. Solar power is simply too diffused to service the needs of big high-rise buildings, even if every rooftop is covered.

Offshore wind is a nascent technology that will be a major contributor to New York’s power grid in the future. The offshore wind leases are handled by the US Government and bids are being managed by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

New York and Con Edison are leaders in smart grid infrastructure. By 2022, five million more smart meters will be installed. Con Edison has many time-of-use rates that support smart grid technology investments. Because of historically high energy prices, demand management has been a business in New York for longer than most areas of the country. Private investors are working to install energy storage technologies behind the meter to support load shifting and ancillary electric services.

The city and Con Edison are also leaders in supporting emerging energy generation technologies. Con Edison, pushed by the New York State Public Service Commission, enacted a first-in-the-country process of soliciting Non-Wires Alternatives (NWA) to the Brownsville substation upgrades. The NWA process seeks alternatives to costly substation upgrades and has been replicated for all big upgrades.

New York State has been working on a comprehensive process of regulatory reform called Reforming the Energy Vision or NY REV. The city and Con Edison have been working within that framework to allow new business model innovation, although the process has been criticized for taking too long and being too comprehensive. On-site power generation has been increasing at an exponential rate.

WATER TREATMENT & DISTRIBUTION

WATER TREATMENT & DISTRIBUTION

Score: 9.0/10

The New York water supply system is one of the most complex and sophisticated in the world. Almost entirely gravity fed, it supplies the city with almost four trillion liters of water daily, drawn from a watershed hundreds of kilometers away in the Catskill Mountains. The city has invested heavily to preserve land in the watershed, preventing development that could affect water quality.

The city is in the process of developing an energy master plan for its water supply and wastewater treatment system, designed to be a zero-net energy system through the use of biogas and other strategies. In addition, the city’s green infrastructure planning requirements help to avoid the release of untreated sewage due to combined sewer overflow events during storms.

WASTE MANAGEMENT

WASTE MANAGEMENT

Score: 6.3/10

New York has set an ambitious goal of achieving zero waste sent to landfills by 2030, eliminating the need to send its waste to out-of-state landfills and minimizing the environmental impact of solid waste management practices. The city has robust commercial and residential recycling requirements. It has invested in infrastructure to expand these efforts and plans to introduce single-stream recycling by 2020.

There are no active landfills within the city. The last — Fresh Kills, one of the world’s largest — was closed in 2001. All six of the city’s former landfills are actively managed and Fresh Kills is being converted into an 890-hectare park — almost three times as large as Central Park.

The city also has expanded its organics efforts, collecting food scraps, food-soiled paper and yard waste for composting, thus removing this waste from the city’s landfill waste stream. City data reveal a reduction in the waste generation rate of residents and an increase in the amount of electronic waste collected.

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