TreesCount Data Jam 2016 Report Back


Congrats @nycparks #datajam winners!! NYC #opendata + #nyctreescount + #hackforchange!
Congrats @nycparks #datajam winners!! NYC #opendata + #nyctreescount + #hackforchange!

Event Report Back:

On Saturday, 4 June, NYC Parks hosted its second Data Jam, unveiling NYC’s latest urban forest dataset, the most spatially accurate map of New York City’s street trees ever created. Together with BetaNYC, NYC Parks hosted NYC’s fourth National Day of Civic Hacking event. This is the first time NYC government collaborated with members of NYC’s civic hacker and open data community to host a day-long civic engagement event. For the day, government staffers partnered with tree stewards and community groups, civic technologists, data experts, and designers to help transform the data into actionable insights.

The Data Jam is an extension of NYC Parks’ TreesCount! 2015 participatory mapping campaign to spark and sustain public engagement with NYC’s urban forest through data. Since May 2015, more than 2,500 volunteers have participated in mapping NYC’s street trees. To date, more than 530,000 trees, representing approximately 80% of NYC’s streets, have been mapped as part of the 2015 Street Tree Census.

On Saturday, 196 participants got their first hands-on look at the street tree data that has been collected to date. For the first six months of 2016, NYC Parks worked with TreesCount! Partners and held internal workshops to source problem statements and questions that were used to derive five Data Jam challenges. At the event, the challenges were represented by Parks staff and community stakeholders. Our collective goal was to spend the day building insights for a more equitable urban forest.

The day was broken up into two tracks. Twenty-seven participants engaged in a six hour long workshop teaching them NYC’s open data portal and the nuances of mapping and data exploration, while 144 experienced participants explored the five challenges.

By the end of the day, 23 projects were conceived and built to compete for six prizes.

The event was organized by NYC Parks in partnership with BetaNYC. Support for this event was provided by the Mayor’s Office of Technology + Innovation, NYC Open Data, our host Civic Hall, Microsoft Civic, and CartoDB.

The TreesCount! Data Jam embodies NYC digital priorities such as NYC’s vision for Open Data for All, and the NYC Digital Playbook.

  • Open Data for All laid out two core beliefs – that every New Yorker can benefit from Open Data, and Open Data can benefit from every New Yorker.
  • A central tenet of the NYC Digital Playbook is to foster more collaboration with engaged citizens and civic technologists.
  • Therefore, NYC Parks designed the Data Jam to bring together community members with civic hackers and Parks staff to collaborate on data challenges, and incorporated an Introduction to Open Data workshop for beginners interested in learning to use to Open Data.

Event Metrics

  • Total Participants: 196
  • Data Jammer Participants: 144
  • Workshop Participants: 27
  • Participant Diversity:  45% male / 39% female / 16% unspecified / 1% other
  • Community Group / Public Stakeholder Groups: 5
  • Children in on-site daylong childcare: 7
  • Projects built: 23
  • Winners: 5

The development of a user centered data release workflow.

The most important insights we developed was the evolution of a “user centered data release workflow.” Build off of user centered ideas, we believe that data sets should go through some user testing and like all products fit into a continuous improvement loop.

We’d love to hear your comments on the following three phased user centered data release workflow. Please leave a comment below.

Phase 1: Research & Discovery
• Establish target audiences
• Draft data standards that appeal to broadest possible audience
• Draft data dictionary

Phase 2: User Testing
• Release sample dataset for feedback
• Perform user testing and get feedback on data dictionary & dataset
• Develop a framework and/or guide as how to explore the dataset’s important values
• Allow time for revisions

Phase 3: Initial Deployment
• Upload data set and data dictionary to Portal with an event or video explaining the key features of the data.
• Allow time for user testing on Portal and gather open feedback.
• Share insights and communicate them out to the public. Continue to gather public feedback.



NYC TreesCount Data Jam Winners:

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

Title of Winning Project: NYGeog’s Maps Over Time NYC Trees Count Data Jam

Map with dropdown to select tree counts by year, percent change over years, density of trees per square mile and percent change in density of trees per square mile over years

Team Members: Daniel M. Sheehan

Project URL:


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

Title of Winning Project: Keeping You Safe From Hazardous Trees

Website containing heatmaps and bar graphs visualizing tree health as it pertains to the local community.

Team Members: Matt Waldron, Kate Meizner, Mary Burford,

Project URL:


GRAND PRIZE  + Challenge 3 :
What relationships can be drawn between the Street Tree Census Data and other environmental and economic indicators in New York City?

Title of Winning Project: Impact of Trees on Localized Weather

The qualitative effect of trees on improving pedestrian comfort is well known and intuitive; a quantitative assessment of the direct benefits of trees on reducing high temperatures and high humidity in their immediate vicinity would provide a valuable tool for reducing the urban heat island effect.

Team Members: Joe Di Dio, Mattia Fumagalli, Nick Culver, Jordan Contract, Bob Muska

Project URL:


Challenge 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?

Title of Winning Project: 311 request costs

In order to efficiently plan for the long-term health of trees, we wanted to benchmark costs. Using average costs for different work orders, such as pruning, removal, planting, we visualized 311 costs over time.

Team Members: Gerry Song, Kristy Choi, Jean-Ezra Yeung

Project URL:


Challenge 5 – TIE:
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?

Title of Winning Project: Treezy

Description: “Treezy” is a mobile app for matching users with nearby trees in most need. Users can update stewardship activities and alerts will be personalized and designed to build a connection between people and trees and their needs. Additionally, events can be organized within the app among users in the area.

Team Members: Nazia Parvez, Vianney Brandicourt, Madalena Mak, Bridget Keyes, Melissa Zavala

Project URL:


Title of Winning Project: When Engagement Works

Description: The goal of this project is to estimate the citywide water absorption that could result from the complete implementation of tree guards. We then provide a recommendation list for a specific community group to construct and install tree guards in their stewardship zones to improve tree health and reduce stormwater runoff.

Team Members: Rob Elliott, Leila Mougoui, Maria Rodriguez, Nandan Shetty,

Project URL: