Launching, NYC’s online home to #civictech, #opendata, & #opengov!


Talk.Beta.NYC is NYC’s online home for civic technology, open data, and open government!


“TALK” is a collection of communities who are fighting for a 21st century city. Built on the open source platform and customized by Volkan Unsal and Ontodia, TALK.beta.NYC is NYC’s one stop shop for all conversations relating to civic technology, open data, open government, BetaNYC’s workgroups, and the City’s data.

Discourse is a 100% open source platform. It is designed for touch devices and optimized for reading. As members become trusted regulars, they earn abilities to help maintain the ecosystem. Though community moderation and likes, the community helps curates the good stuff! Similar to twitter or facebook, we have the @and private messages. All-in-all, it is a community conversation platform designed for the 21st Century.

Talk wouldn’t be possible without the generous support of Digital Ocean and Code For America’s Brigade Program.


TALK.beta.NYC is a platform for NYC’s open communities. This platform is offered for free for all conversations relating to NYC’s civic tech, open data, and open government! As of 25 Feb, all of BetaNYC’s workgroups and discussion groups have moved to talk.

This online platform is designed to incorporate as many communities as possible. If you are a community group that deals with open data, civic technology, and open government, contact us

Why Talk?

New York City’s civic technology ecosystem is growing rapidly. In 2015, there are dozens of communities.

As we have grown rapid, so have our problems…

The community workgroup problem:

Over the past year, BetaNYC discovered how hard it was to maintain several google groups. To keep things straight we created a spreadsheet that kept growing and growing and growing, example BetaNYC’s data resources spreadsheet. Then, just last month, we had a situation where three different workgroups were discussing NYC’s snow plow data. Those three groups should have been talking to each other.

Talk provides a central location for all of these communities.

The data discussion problem:

While NYC’s open data program is ranked number 1, it can be better. Like any technical object, objects need platforms for discussion. Nothing is black and white. For example, Aaron Swartz said

The problem is that reality doesn’t live in the databases. Instead, the databases that are made available, even if grudgingly, form a kind of official cover story, a veil of lies over the real workings of government.
Aaron Swartz – Transparency is Bunk

Yes, data is a story that needs to be probed and analyzed. Stories need to come out and then advocacy is layered on top. When data is produced, it tells a story – not all stories. For NYC’s data program to improve, we need a platform for data conversations. As a prototype, we present talk and have integrated it with NYC’s community data portal, These two tools bring datasets alive and enable open conversations.

Read about data and talk integration on Ontiodia’s blog.

The stakeholder problem:

Not only are there specific issues, we need a platform that enables end users, data stakeholders, and data maintainers to have broad conversations. NY’s MTA has demonstrated how an email list can address users’ needs. This is a great example of the future, but how do you expand that to the City’s 100 agencies?! 100 google groups? No.

We see talk as centralized platform to enable all stakeholders – government and the public – to collaborate. We are already exploring options and will continue to provide a safe space for all.

Join us!

NYC is fortunate to have the density and resources to build one of the most robust municipal open data programs in the world.

We present TALK as a platform for the 21st Century. Join us as we build a city, for the people, by the people, for the 21st Century.

General Discussion Boards:


Other important links