Here in New York, a reporter covering IT can feel like he or she is a little off the beaten path, hundreds, if not thousands of miles away from technology meccas like Boston or the Silicon Valley.

One report I read Monday on the way to work says that’s not the case. (Commuters here aren’t just more environmentally friendly, we also get to feed our brains while traveling).

A just-released report, “Buried Treasure: New York’s Hidden Tech Sector,” says that the Big Apple – if you include northern New Jersey – has nearly 620,000 technology workers. That’s twice as many as Silicon Valley.

How so? Popular Sciences rated New York 39th among high-tech cities in 2005.

The latest report counts those who work in research and development departments at medical institutes and other organizations. That’s one possible explanation for the variance.

From this report in commuter newspaper am New York (owned by Long Island’s Newsday), Russell Hancock, chief executive of Joint Venture: Silicon Valley Network, a non-profit that specializes in regional planning, doesn’t buy it.

“Place still matters,” he’s quoted as saying. “What’s in the Silicon Valley is a critical mass, just this dense, fibrous network of innovators, of technology people bumping into each other like molecules in a gas.”

But I’d bet him that whether walking the streets or riding to work, more people are literally bumping into each other here.