BetaNYC

Join us for NYC's School of Data

Join us on Saturday, 5 March 2016, we invite government, civic hackers, and community based organizations to learn from each other and share how we can improve our communities and our data. Let this network improving the City’s data ecosystem and enrich our communities through technology, data, & design.

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For the third time in the past 20 years, together with our hard-working volunteers and stewards, NYC Parks is conducting a comprehensive inventory of our street trees to improve NYC Parks’ ability to manage our urban forest.

As part of TreesCount! 2015, NYC Parks has engaged with our voluntreers, tree-oriented community groups, and non-profit partners to identify how street tree census data can help improve equitable care of our urban forest. NYC Parks, with the assistance of BetaNYC, has turned this feedback and NYC Park’s own questions into these Data Jam challenges.

Now, we are asking you to help us make sense of the Census! Join us by RSVPing via eventbrite. Childcare and scholarships available.


#1. How has NYC’s urban forest changed over time — comparing 1995, 2005, and 2015?

TreesCount! 2015 is the third decadal effort to completely inventory New York City’s street trees! To date, 530,000 trees, representing approximately 80% of the City’s streets, have been mapped as part of the 2015 census, and NYC Parks is releasing all the data that has been reviewed to date. The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island have all been completed. It is the most spatially accurate street tree dataset New Yorkers have ever seen. We need your help visualizing, comparing, and understanding changes across tree census datasets.

By building maps or visualizations, your goal is to help us begin to understand how changes in our urban forest affect NYC’s neighborhoods.

#2. How can we visualize Street Tree Census Data to improve our understanding of the urban forest and help educate New Yorkers?

The Street Tree Census provides us with a wealth of data. Turning this into useful information through maps and visualizations helps us understand the urban forest. Maps and visualizations can help us build an understanding of this shared resource, and enable data-driven management decisions.

Your goal is to make beautiful maps and visualizations that enable all types of New Yorkers to learn more about our urban forest.

#3. What relationships can be drawn between the Street Tree Census Data and other environmental and economic indicators in New York City?

NYC’s urban forest is an integral component of a healthy and equitable city. Understanding the urban forest’s relationship to the City’s health and economy will help urban forest stakeholders advocate for more resources to build a healthier and equitable city. Understanding these relationships will help demystify our urban forest’s impact.

Your goal is to use tree census data to help us understand our urban forest’s relationship to specific environmental and economic indicators.

#4. How can we use the Street Tree Census Data to more efficiently plan for the long term health and growth of the urban forest?

With the 1995 and 2005 street tree censuses, NYC Parks has been able to catalyze major advances in urban forest management, making science-based operational decisions and quantify the benefits of the urban forest. In addition to understanding patterns in resource distribution and condition over time, long-term urban forest management decisions must consider factors such as climate change, pests, diseases, land use, and species diversity.

Your goal is to help us explore these factors using census data and help us develop strategies to address the future of the urban forest.

#5. How can we use Street Tree Census Data to better engage with and target the efforts of community stewardship volunteers to improve the health of the urban forest?

Trees in urban settings face many challenges from both people and the environment. We believe that tree stewardship by the community is an essential part of achieving our urban forestry goals. Resources for tree care are finite, and so it is important that we better understand tree stewards and the challenges they face, and maximize the effectiveness of our volunteers by supporting their stewardship activity.

Your goal is to explore Street Tree Census data to help develop insights that can measure the impact of stewardship on the health of our urban forest, and help us understand where stewardship efforts are most needed.

To attend the event, you need to RSVP via eventbrite. Childcare and scholarships available.

Support for this event is provided by the Mayor’s Office of Technology + Innovation, NYC Open Data, our host Civic Hall, Microsoft Civic, and CartoDB.

Today, NYC.gov launched a new digital front door. We welcome this experiment known as AlphaLabs, civic tech office hours, and, all the other things that the Mayor’s Office of Digital Strategy is doing to make government more accessible.

ALSO – We love that Alpha.nyc.gov is built on BetaNYC’s award winning ReinventNYC.gov hackathon idea!

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Team BetaNYC’s mockup for ReinventNYC.gov hackathon.

 

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Today’s launch of Alpha.NYC.gov.

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Team Appleseed with “Best User Interface” trophy.

Back when we were just a couple of kids and a meetup.com account, a few of us participated in the City’s first hackathon — ReinventNYC.gov.

Our idea was to build a google like interface powered by NYC 311’s inquiry API. We envisioned a super simple, search driven interface.

The more you searched or called NYC 311, the better NYC.gov would get at returning relevant information. NYC.gov would mirror NYC 311’s ambiguity. You didn’t need to know who provided the service. All you needed was a question and we would provide you with relevant results.

With this idea, we won best user interface. Many of the other participants featured similar interfaces. These ideas were so good, many of them are baked into the NYC.gov we know today!

Alpha.nyc.gov is exactly the type of NYC.gov we envisioned a little less than five years ago.

We are happy to see the NYC Digital Playbook be put into action (and follow in the footsteps of NYC Council Labs, the City Council civic hacker SWAT team). As the Mayor’s office has embraced participation and feedback as a fundamental part of Alpha.NYC.gov, we want to see this tool’s core, the code, and product roadmap opened in a way that truly embraces the NYC Digital Playbook.

Now, more than ever, it is important for the alpha.NYC.gov team to stand on the shoulder of giants, embrace the same software development practices embraced by the US Federal Government (and UK, NY State Senate, Code for America).

These software practices are secure, smart, resilient, and they save us money!

The direction is clear. NYC DOITT has already set forth the path with their Citywide-GitHub-Policy (link to the City’s GitHub collection of repos). Now, we need the Mayor’s Office of Digital Strategies to develop the future of NYC.gov for the people, with the people, in an online/offline transparent practice. (Yes, we know they are holding office hours, but that’s not enough. We say that with all the love in the world.)

We congratulate this administration on taking the second step and look forward to working with them as they take the next.

Join us for NYC Parks’ TreesCount! Data Jam!

On Saturday, June 4th, we will unveil NYC’s latest urban forest dataset, the most spatially accurate map of New York City’s street trees. Join NYC Parks, TreesCount! partners, tree care volunteers, and other civic hackers to learn about your urban forest and what impact street trees have on our daily lives.

We are looking for data scientists, statisticians, developers, designers, visualizers, cartographers, and quants. Bring your skills, questions, and creativity to this data jam!

To spark and sustain public engagement, NYC Parks launched the TreesCount! campaign. To date, more than 2,300 New Yorkers have voluntreered helping complete the first comprehensive map of our city’s street trees.

Now, it’s your turn to help us transform the data, gathered thus far, into actionable insights. Whether you are new to hacking or experienced, bring your data expertise and join us for NYC’s first TreesCount! Data Jam and Workshop.

Join us to improve our understanding of and plan for the future our City’s urban forest!

Register via eventbrite and help us plan for the future!

Cost – $10, scholarships available
Date – Saturday, 4 June 2016 from 8:00 am till 6:00 pm
Location – Civic Hall, 156 5th Avenue, 2nd Floor, New York, NY

Support for this event is provided by the Mayor’s Office of Technology + Innovation, NYC Open Data, our host Civic Hall, and CartoDB.

Today is a great day to be a New Yorker. With a straight forward vision of intentional inclusion, iterative design, transparency, flexibility, & mobility, New Yorkers have a Mayor and City Council who fundamentally support the use of technology, data, and design to build governments that work for the 21st century.

“With the launch of the NYC Digital Services Playbook, technology, data, and design become the corner stone of a 21st century New York City,” said Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC. “We are excited to see the Mayor launch a Digital Services Playbook that brings together the best ideas from inside and outside of government. This digital services playbook lays down a unified foundation for the first half of 21st century.”

The City’s twelve strategies will enable advocates inside and outside of government to champion equitable services built for the 21st century. We look forward to using these strategies to build a stronger, smarter, and more resilient City.

In the coming year, we hope to demonstrate the need for a unified digital services department to unify these principals and strategies. NYC needs an agency who can shepherd these principles across agencies and truly deliver collaborative digital services. Using a model shared by the US Federal Government’s Digital Services Department and 18F, we look forward to building a broader bridge and help reorient government services around we, the people.

Check out NYC’s Digital Services Playbook and vote for your favorite ideas.

Note – In 2013, the BetaNYC community co-wrote the People Roadmap to a Digital New York City. Many of these ideas have been adopted by this Mayoral administration. 

Dear Chairperson Vacca and members of the Technology Committee,

We are supportive of Intro 0564 – 2014. We strongly believe that New York City needs an internal technology and design team to help accomplish the goals of this legislation. Similar to the US Federal Government’s 18F or US Digital Services, New York City is at a point where its digital applications need to be developed in house, through open source tools, and be done in a way where they are expandable to any type of device, regardless of platform.

As part of this legislation’s’ goals, we hope you would include language that such a system is designed around an Application Protocol Interface (API). This would allow any eligible individual to apply for a permit, licenses, or application anytime, anywhere, and regardless of platform. Additionally, this API would maximize the initial investment and permit the city to grow and adapt the application with minimal cost.

With most New Yorkers using cellphones to access the internet, it is fundamental that this tool be build with a 21st Century values and technology.

We thank you for the opportunity to submit electronic testimony, and apologize that the flu has incapacitated me from being in your company.

 

PDF – BetaNYC-TestimonyforIntro564-2016

As part of Noel Hidalgo’s fellowship at Data & Society Research Institution, he hosted the co-chair of the NYC Transparency Working Group and the Executive Director of Reinvent Albany, John Kaehny. If you ever wonder why NYC has a great ecosystem around cycling advocacy, civic technology, & open data advocacy, you must know John Kaehny’s history.
 
As the former Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives, he pioneered the use of data liberation AND mapping to engage in a conversation around pedestrian and cycling street crashes. You can see this descendant in Transportation Alternative’s CrashStat map and the City’s current initiative around Vision Zero.
 
Now, John Kaehny is once again spearheading open data advocacy. This video outline NYC’s #opendata law’s past, present, & future. This is a very important video to watch.
 
Watch this video via YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KR9JRIvbv6M
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B.P. Brewer speaks during the NYC School of Data conference keynote session.

At “School of Data” conference, B.P. Brewer announces she will bring data science curriculum to NYC high schools.

NEW YORK – Today at BetaNYC’s NYC School of Data conference, Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer announced she will bring data science classes to New York City high schools, making public that her office is forming a task force to develop a data science curriculum and implementation plan.

“As the world changes, it’s critical that our schools keep up. That doesn’t just mean putting computers in classrooms – it means offering our students coursework that will help them understand and even shape the world they’re inheriting from us,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Data science is behind expanding access to parks and playgrounds, the rates MetLife charges for insurance, and which search results Google shows us. It can literally show us how to make our world work better.”

Data science is the interdisciplinary field focused on deriving knowledge insights from data. It exists at the intersection of math, statistics, information science, and computer science, and has growing applications in everything from social and economic research to marketing, data mining, software design, and more.

In 2012 the Harvard Business Review called the role of data scientist “the sexiest job of the 21st century.” In 2014 the Washington Post called the field “newly hot” and concluded “[t]his is where the jobs are,” observing that “[i]t will take an estimated 2 million new computer scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and statisticians to sort through the cacophony of data and find meaningful patterns that will help, among other things, to target customers, track diseases and find crime hot spots.”

In announcing her commitment to bring data science education to the city’s schools, Brewer pointed to the success of her Open Data Law, which has generated a mountain of civic datasets for use in civic hacking, data analysis, and data science projects, and her office’s CUNY Service Corps program, which trains and deploys CUNY students to assist Manhattan’s Community Boards with open data and data science-based projects.

“We have a pioneering open data policy here in New York City,” said Brewer. “Using that data to give our high school students concrete, inquiry-driven experiences is a win-win, and will prepare them for greater opportunities and full citizenship in the digital century.”

The Data Science Education Task Force

The Data Science Education Task Force’s goal will be building an actionable plan to bring data science in the New York City public schools, including: a working outline of a curriculum, professional development solutions to help teachers lead data science courses, and pursuing city- and state-level policy changes to clear the way for data science’s incorporation in city high school curricula.

The Los Angeles school district, UCLA, and the National Science Foundation have already partnered to pilot data science classes in 10 public schools, with promising findings. Students who had failed previous math classes or state algebra assessments were passing sophisticated data science courses. Proponents cited the hands-on, concrete, relevant nature of the coursework compared to conventional mathematics curricula as a significant positive.

The task force is in formation, and Brewer will bring together education experts, civic technology advocates, and technology entrepreneurs to participate. The New York City Department of Education will be included.

About the NYC School of Data Conference

BetaNYC’s NYC School of Data conference, held at Civic Hall in the Flatiron District, brought together open data advocates, civic hackers, technology entrepreneurs, government officials, and students to discuss New York City’s data ecosystem. The day’s programming included a workshop teaching data science basics to high school students, demonstrations of open data-based work CUNY Service Corps members have done for Manhattan’s Community Boards, and a discussion on potential improvements and updates to the 2012 Open Data Law and government open data policies.

Source Link https://madmimi.com/p/a1df57
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Open source advocates providing testimony to New York City Council.

To: NYC Council – Committee on Contracts
From: Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC
Re: Int 365-2014 & Int 366-2014

Tuesday, 22 February 2016

Dear Chairperson Rosenthal and the NYC Committee on Contracts,

It is an honor to have this opportunity to represent New York City’s civic technology, design, and data community.

I am the Executive Director of BetaNYC, a member driven good government organization. Currently, we are over 3,300 members. Our mission is to improve people’s lives using technology, data and design while advocating for a City government, for the people, by the people, for the 21st Century.

In 2014, we published a “People’s Roadmap to a Digital New York City where we outline the need for New York City government to adopt more free and open source software. We fundamentally agree with Intro 366-2014’s preamble. “The acquisition and widespread deployment of free and open source software can significantly reduce the city’s costs of obtaining and maintaining software.”

We applaud the Council and this committee for holding this hearing and exploring innovative ways to save the City money, grow small businesses, and bring government technology into the 21st century.

We support Int 365-2014 & Int 366-2014 and have a few ideas.

Intro 366-2014 — Free and Open Source Software Act

From my professional experience working in and out of Government, open source software provides the greatest flexibility and efficiency. Intro 366-2014 is a great start.

We are very happy to see New York City government explore the need to adopt a unified open source workflow and reporting mechanisms.

Municipally developed open source software leads to small business growth. Currently, DoITT’s GIS department is an excellent example of how municipal open source software empowers small business. The City maintains a free geocoder that saves small businesses millions of dollars in address translation look up fees.

  • We feel this bill doesn’t go far enough to detail current adoption of open source software. It would be great to know how much of the City’s software infrastructure is open source. We are not asking for a listing of all adopted open source libraries, just a reporting structure where a single agency can report on its open source adoption and light the path for sibling agencies. An excellent example is Department of Transportation’s adoption of Drupal and Shareabouts.
  • This law doesn’t go into details around the adoption of open file formats. The City’s reporting mechanism should have some middle ground for proprietary applications that produce open file formats.
  • A point of note, this bill doesn’t address internet of things issues. As the Mayor’s Office of Technology Innovation and the Economic Development Corporation develop their Neighborhood Labs and evangelize the manifestation of a “smart city” embedded devices and the internet of things (IoT) needs to be taken into consideration.
  • Lastly, great open source applications have clear documentation, design documents, and are open from the start. Any annual report should highlight applications and tools that promote good open source ecology.

 

Intro 365-2014 — Civic Commons Act

In general, we love this idea. In 2009, when I was the Director of Technology Innovation at the State Senate, I begged for a catalog of free and open source software used in Government—a Civic Commons— to become a boy. Sadly, this Pinocchio’s dream never came true.

As a staff member of Code for America, and now at BetaNYC, I have witnessed first hand the need for a catalog of free and open source software used in Government. We continue to congratulate this City’s adoption and publication of code on GitHub, but this isn’t enough. DoITT’s tip-toeing through the adoption of open source is too slow. Open source software is mature and safe and our City should be leading the path to municipal adoption. This Pinocchio dreams for this City to adopt a free and open source practice and produce a catalog of how free and open source software is adopted.

  • Our primary concern with the Civic Commons Act is around cross municipality procurement. Would this prevent the City’s ability to acquire free and open source software. This language is a bit confusing.
  • Would this Civic Commons Act be a catalogue, app store, or showcase? Who will maintain the Civic Commons Act software?
  • What happens when another city sees New York City software and wants to “procure” a copy?
  • Will the Civic Commons Act software platform allow for me to submit bug reports, read documentation or implementation documents?
  • If I have questions about code, will the Civic Commons Act platform be my one stop shop?

 

 

 

 

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The New York City School of Data is a collaborative conference improving the City’s data ecosystem. This year, we invite government, civic hackers, and community based organizations to learn from each other and share how we can improve our communities and our data.

This year, we explore two questions:

  • How is civic technology and open data working for you?
  • Can we improve to build smarter communities?

This year’s School of Data conference is a day-long showcase. Additionally, we will host workshops and collaborate on some of NYC’s most pressing issues—including a data jam with the NYCLU to address economic and social injustice.

Join us as we celebrate the fourth anniversary of New York City’s Open Data Law and make open data and civic technology work for all of us.

Register for NYC School of Data, Saturday – 5 March, via https://schoolofdata.nyc

Selected Speakers:

  • Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
  • City Council Member Ben Kallos
  • John Kaehny, Reinvent Albany & Co-Chair of the NYC Transparency Working Group
  • John Paul Farmer & Matt Stempeck, Microsoft Civic
  • Mark Headd, Accela
  • Jackie Lu, NYC Parks Department
  • Liz Berry, TreeKit & Public Laboratory
  • Representatives from NY City Council Speakers Office, Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA), Department of Information Technology and Telecommunication (DOITT), and CartoDB

Sessions include:

  • Day long data jam with the NYCLU to address economic and social injustice.
  • Day long workshop on how to use NYC 311 data and the city’s open data portal.
  • Workshop on how to NY/NYC’s freedom of information law / act (FOIL / FOIA).
  • Panel on the future of open data standards.
  • Panel on how to use unlock NYC’s open data.
  • Sessions on how to use open data and civic technology to increase Community Board / Community Based Organization engagements.

NOTE – Childcare will be provided!

Saturday, 5 March 2016
9 am – 6 pm
at Civic Hall, NYC’s collaborative work and event space for the support of civic tech

Register at https://schoolofdata.nyc

Dear Chairman Vacca and Councilmembers,

New York City’s open data ecosystem one of the world’s best. We are very sorry that BetaNYC’s leadership can’t be there in person.

First, BetaNYC and NYC open data community has experienced an amazing 18 months. We are excited to see the Council and this administration commit to making open data work for all.

Our community’s explosive growth is a testimony to the success of the City’s open data program. We are excited to work with the the Council, the Mayor’s Office, and Agencies improve access to information and build a government for the people, by the people, for the 21st century.

This testimony is broken into three parts:

  • A recap of BetaNYC’s partnership with NYC open data ecosystem.
  • An introduction to NYC’s Civic Innovation Fellowship, a program to strengthen open data use within government.
  • Methods to strengthen our open data ecosystem.

As of this month, BetaNYC’s community 3,000 members strong.

We continue to offer weekly open data programing to all who want to learn.

In February, we partnered with the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) to host our third winter hackathon, Code Across NYC. At this event, over 600 people attended to learn about the City’s open data program and to use data, technology, and design to improve their communities.

In August, Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS) unveiled an updated City Record with improved events data that allows you to subscribe to local public hearing notifications. Throughout that process, we worked to educate DCAS and the Mayor’s Office of Technology and Innovation (MOTI) on the value of detailed location data. We hope to continue this partnership, and continuously improve the City Record’s data.

Currently, we are a part of NYC BigApps–providing a community data platform and evening workspace for projects to develop.

Community tools that power NYC’s open data ecosystem

Last October, we launched Citygram.NYC. Over the last year, we have improved the program where you can subscribe to 311 service alerts, vehicle collisions, and restaurant inspections.

http://www.citygram.nyc

In the Spring, we launched two community support tools.

First, we launched NYC’s community data portal – Data.Beta.NYC. It is a community data portal designed for NYC by NYC. We have a five person, volunteer team maintaining 112 datasets and assisting 19 organizations.

http://data.beta.nyc

Data.beta.nyc is an example how agencies can inexpensively run their own data portals. Additionally, we think we have solve the perplexing issue of conversations around datasets.

https://talk.beta.nyc

In complement to data.beta.nyc, we launched talk.Beta.NYC – online home for NYC’s civic tech community. “Talk” is the central clearing house for questions on the city’s open data, civic tech events, and thematic workgroups. On average we have 400 monthly users.

…this is just the beginning.

Introducing NYC’s Civic Innovation Fellowship

In partnership with Manhattan Borough President’s office, we’ve launched the NYC Civic Innovation Fellowship (CIF). This program is building the next generation of civic hackers, policy wonks, and hopefully a few City Council members.

We are creating new working relationships between NYC Community Boards and the next generation of community leaders through training and employment in human-centered, data-driven decision making.

Our objectives are three fold:

Community Boards – Build capacity through digital civic literacy and mapping, planning, and improvements tools.

CUNY Service Fellows – Educate and empower a new generation of community leaders who know how to use civic design, technology, and open data.

Borough Presidents’ Offices – To train & support Community Boards to better communicate and engage with their constituents.

In the short term (next 5 years), a successful outcome of the CIF program would be the establishment of a basic, effective curriculum and the solidification of the relationship between Community Boards and the Service Corps program. These accomplishments would improve the experiences of both youth and Community Board members as well as increase the NYC’s commitment to (and implementation of) open data quality & standards. After two successful cycles completed for Manhattan Community Boards, the program will reach out to the other 4 Borough President’s offices with the eventual goal of establishing the program for all 5.

In the long term (5-10 years), the goal of the project is to expand the number of participating youth and Community Boards. Ultimately the program should be able to accommodate Community Boards from all five boroughs, as well as have the resources in place to serve City Council member offices, as well as selected New York State Senate and Assembly offices in the same fashion.

Opportunities to strengthen NYC’s open data practice

BetaNYC’s future depends on a mature open data program. Our ideas are not directly in conflict with any of these pieces of legislation. We can see that the Council has listened to our observations and worked to inshrine them into law. We are thankful and grateful for having an attentive City Council.

In general, we see the underlying message behind these bills as a much needed adjustment to the City’s existing open data law. With a shared frustration, we too want a more transparent, accessible, and accountable open data program.

Here are our recommendations to improve our shared frustrations.

Into 0916-2015 – Compliance audit

We would love to have an oversight body that doesn’t cherry pick oversight. We need a body who’s mission is to fully engage with the community of data users and provide detailed assessments of how and where improvements can be made.

This might be an opportunity to invigorate the Commission on Public Information and Communication (COPIC) who has a mandate to oversee the City’s public information.

Int 0915-2015 – Updating datasets

In a paper world, three day notifications are great. In the digital world, notifications are instant. If agencies were resourced to run their own open data portals, we believe we would receive higher quality data and notifications. By developing an ecosystem of data portals, there would be no need to “send data” to the city’s single open data portal.

We believe that the City can maintain efficient open data management tools. There are many open source data management tools that are operated by small teams. These teams collaborate with each other to maximize feature development.

Fundamentally, agencies need to be responsible for their own data. We feel that empowering agencies to own and manage their own open data repositories will give the public better access to data handlers and improving data quality.

We encourage the City to explore the use of open source data management tools to ensure that data quality is increased and agency empowerment is maximized.

Int 0890-2015 – Archiving of datasets

This proposed legislation is exciting but offers two questions.

  1. To what extend to we need archival data?
  2. Why don’t we consider the technical standard’s manual a living document?

  3. To what extend to we need archival data?

In an ideal world, we copy every bit and have them behind a version controlled, application programming interface. This would provide an ideal time machine!

Our current experience indicates our current open data practice is really bad at time travel. We have no data dictionaries, a variety of formats, and at times conflicting data. Not only do we share the desire for historical data, we are passionate about agencies having the internal capacity to improve their data quality.

Our City’s open data practice needs to expand their technical resources to own and maintain a variety of data ideals. We need additional talent to help agencies liberate data, consider their long term use, and ensure data proliferation.

  1. For the last two years, we have encouraged the City to join us in an open conversation to update the technical standards manual. We have always seen the standards manual as a living document.

We always thought having the public help update the standards manual was part of the plan. The current legislation doesn’t ensure the standards manual is updated with public participation.

We agree that the open standards manual needs to be updated, and the public should be included. To strengthen this legislation, public engagement needs to be enshrined in the City’s open data law.

Int 0898-2015 – plain language data dictionary

We absolutely agree that every dataset needs a data dictionary. This issue brings up a fundamental issue of who is maintaining our data formats, data quality, and what is the long term plan to empower agencies to maintain their own data?

This bill makes it clear we need more communication around datasets, and we’re not sure that singling out additional data dictionaries is the appropriate solution.

First, we do need data dictionaries. Second, we need conduits to data maintainers and subject matter experts to improve errors. We created talk.beta.nyc as a home to help address this issue.

We hope to work with the Council and the Mayor’s office to help improve access our City’s datasets maintainers.

Int 0900-2015 – standardizing addresses

We think that this issue is closely related improving the technical standards manual. We shouldn’t have to legislate specific data formats–addresses included. Then again, some of our most frustrating conversations around the City Record’s data were around address data standardization.

While we feel uncomfortable mandating address location data, we do feel that all addresses need to be as detailed as possible. As address are added to the City’s data portal, they should be converted to human readable formats. Every agency should maximize the City’s own geocoder.

Lastly, we need agencies to own this issue. We can not depend on DOITT to be responsible for all data translation issues. We need participating agencies to be empowered to improve their own data. Addresses are just one small part of the data ownership issue.

Int 0908-2015 – sharing FOIL data

We believe that all FOIL’ed data should be made available and the City should default to open. This bill expresses that intent, but is vague around prioritization. Additionally, it doesn’t address how those datasets would be kept up to date, nor how FOIL’ed records would impact the release of the larger dataset.

Int 0914-2015 – responding to dataset requests

We are in absolute agreement around dataset request transparency and building platforms for public <> government engagement.

Looking at the City’s own data, there are close to 180 datasets requests. Six have been approved; seven rejected.

From our experience, we need more agency engagement. We need conversations with the dataset’s owner, identify the important dataset parts, and have an ongoing conversations about data quality. We don’t always need more data, we need better data.

Conclusion

These are very exciting times. New York City has one of the World’s best open data ecosystems. To have so many Councilmembers actively interested in improving NYC’s open data ecosystem is important. We can not build the future without you.

While we support the intent of these bills, we are not sure all of these bills need to move forward. We encourage the Council to act as a broker and bring together dataset users and agency maintainers to address our issues.

In conclusion, we thank the Council, the Administration, and this Committee’s leadership in bringing us where we are today. Your leadership is indispensable in building an open data ecosystem for all.

If you have feedback or comments please leave them on talk.beta.nyc

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Join us for NYC Parks’ TreesCount! Data Jam! On Saturday, June 4th, we will unveil NYC’s latest urban forest dataset, the most spatially accurate map of New York City’s street trees. Join NYC Parks, TreesCount! partners, tree care volunteers, and other civic hackers to learn about your urban forest and…

Statement of support for NYC’s Digital Services Playbook

Today is a great day to be a New Yorker. With a straight forward vision of intentional inclusion, iterative design, transparency, flexibility, & mobility, New Yorkers have a Mayor and City Council who fundamentally support the use of technology, data, and design to build governments that work for the 21st…

In Support of Int 0564 – 2014

Dear Chairperson Vacca and members of the Technology Committee, We are supportive of Intro 0564 – 2014. We strongly believe that New York City needs an internal technology and design team to help accomplish the goals of this legislation. Similar to the US Federal Government’s 18F or US Digital Services,…

VIDEO – John Kaehny on the future of NYC’s Open Data Law

As part of Noel Hidalgo’s fellowship at Data & Society Research Institution, he hosted the co-chair of the NYC Transparency Working Group and the Executive Director of Reinvent Albany, John Kaehny. If you ever wonder why NYC has a great ecosystem around cycling advocacy, civic technology, & open data advocacy, you must…