The_Message: February 2024

Happy Black History Month, and soon-to-be Lunar New Year, and Valentine’s Day! This month, we want to kick things off with a message from our Executive Director, Noel Hidalgo. Read on for Noel’s reflection on the year ahead, some exciting team news, and a celebration of Black History Month!

— BetaNYC 🏂🏽

A Message From Noel 💬 

Twelve years have gone by since the passage of the City’s Open Data Law, and the future is unwritten. While the City has an exemplary team executing the existing set of laws and raising efficiency across agencies to address public needs with data, we also face a prolonged austerity budget. The current hiring freeze and municipal budget cuts strain government services and the people who staff them. While our government and civil society friends do more with less, I can’t help but wonder, how will the City sustain its work?

When BetaNYC wrote the People’s Roadmap to a Digital New York City, we outlined the need for proper service design strategies within government, universal broadband, broad digital and data literacy, affordable housing, and education. We’re still fighting for those things twelve years later and have added a few more items to the punch list. In 2024, BetaNYC is driving efforts to make the City work better with less. We’re engaging more people than ever in using open data to increase government accountability and transparency. We’re strengthening the capacities of local nonprofits and civic groups through hands-on data analytics services. And we’re ushering in the next generation of civically savvy public sector leaders. 

This year, we will reach new milestones. In March, we will showcase the most comprehensive NYC Open Data Week and School of Data alongside the NYC Office of Technology and Innovation (OTI). In doing so, we will provide a platform for our colleagues in and out of government to engage thousands of New Yorkers in their work. This Spring, we will be close to graduating our 100+ Civic Innovation Fellow while teaching community organizations to collect missing datasets. Again, with OTI, we will certify our largest class of Open Data Ambassadors to teach you and your neighbors how to use open data. Lastly, we will address more research and data assistance requests than ever and build a new home for public interest technology in New York City.

We want to sustain our friends in and out of government and shape an inclusive, sustainable future. All of this will happen because we will stay focused on building the city of tomorrow. 🫶  

What’s New at BetaNYC? 😃 

Discovering NYC Open Data classes are in full swing. 📊 The next class is Wednesday, February 7, at 6pm. Check out the full NYC Open Data Ambassadors program schedule at

BetaBagels is back! 🥯 Join us for a morning Zoom chat this Thursday, at 9am with NYC’s Chief Analytics Officer, Martha Norrick. You’ll learn how NYC’s Office of Data Analytics works with City agencies and their data. Bring your choice beverage and favorite bagel (BYObagel!) – see you on Zoom!

Early bird gets the worm. 🎟️ NYC School of Data early bird tickets will open this week! Bookmark and sign up for our weekly LinkedIn newsletter for the announcement. 

Call for Volunteers at NYC School of Data! ✋ We’re looking for people to participate in our annual conference and create an unforgettable experience. Join us for a fun and informative day! Learn more and apply by March 1.

Expanding our family! 💗 We recently welcomed a new Data Analyst Lab Associate, Audrey Leung! We are so thrilled to have you on our team Audrey, and can’t wait to collaborate with you on research projects. Welcome! 

Spreading mapping awareness. 🗺️ Our beloved Dimitri Mimy represented BetaNYC and the Civic Innovation Fellowship team’s work at the Mapping USA virtual conference. If you missed it, no worries – check out our recap (and an exciting announcement!) in this blogpost.

Celebrating Black History Month 

Marie Van Brittan Brown invented the first closed-circuit television and home security system. Brown’s invention for the home security system was inspired by the security risks her home faced, and her work influenced systems that are still used today. 

Alan Emtage transformed how we find information when he created ARCHIE, the First Internet Search Engine. The techniques developed in the creation of ARCHIVE paved the way for creating search engines such as Yahoo and Google.

Valerie Thomas is a scientist and inventor who created the illusion transmitter. NASA subsequently adopted this technology, which has since been used in surgery and the production of television and video screens.

Community News, Events and Announcements

Here are some content picks from our community. Share yours in next month’s newsletter.

State of the State Recap 

Governor Hochul held the State of the State address, outlining her agenda for the next year. The New York Times recapped the top 5 takeaways. New York Focus featured a synopsis of every topic covered. NY1 covered the Governor’s message to working-class New Yorkers. And City & State New York highlighted some of the key topics the Governor covered.      

State of the City Highlights

Mayor Adams delivered the State of the City address and discussed various issues. Gothamist featured a high-level breakdown of the issues the Mayor covered. THE CITY highlighted the Mayor’s new initiatives against upcoming battles. Hell Gate categorized issues by what’s new, existing, and outstanding. And AM New York focused on one of the new initiatives, the Department of Sustainable Delivery. 

Civic Tech and Legislation Updates 👀 

Don’t forget— Community board applications are open for BrooklynManhattanStaten Island, and Queens.  

A push for transparency: We partnered with Reinvent Albany and five additional advocacy groups to issue a memo supporting Senate Bill S3257

Long-standing sidewalk sheds: Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine continues to highlight sidewalk sheds that have been up for over a decade. Our Lab team is honored to have worked with the Borough President’s office to explore this data. If your organization needs data assistance, consider submitting a RADAR.

Families for Safe Streets met with state lawmakers and urged them to pass Sammy’s Law. One of the co-founders — Amy Cohen, Sammy’s mother, was featured in a riveting post.  

Speaking of street safety, it has been 10 years since Vision Zero launched. Transportation Alternatives and Families for Safe Streets analyzed ten years of traffic fatality data, and the results have disparities.     

Air quality data friends! The NYC Environment and Health Data Portal now includes a download function that enables you to download hourly data going back to October 2019. Let us know what you do with it!

Make your voice heard on NYC transportation. The DOT is a developing a new Strategic Plan and needs your input.

The MTA’s Data Engineering Team wrote an insightful article on how they leverage productionalization analytics in their day-to-day operations.   

The FPWA developed the NYC Funds Tracker to highlight the City’s funding across all revenue streams and expenditure resolutions.

Gothamist analyzed fare evasion tickets and arrests per 100,000 riders. Nearly 70% of summonses were handed out at just a quarter of the city’s stations.

Stefan Baack and Mozilla Insights published an informative article on Common Crawl’s influence in generative AI.

Interested in getting local problems fixed? Check out this informative guide.

Upcoming Events 📆

Feb 7 at 6pm Discovering NYC Open Data: Online Session

Feb 8 at 9 am BetaBagels 010: A morning briefing with NYC’s Chief Analytics Officer, Martha Norrick

Feb 8 at 6pm Public Space Advocacy Happy Hour: Bringing Activism to Community Boards!

Feb 8 at 7pm Wikipedia:Meetup/NYC/Hacking Night February 2024 

Feb 9 at 10am NYCT Subways Open House

Feb 14 at 12pm ​​Bridging Design and Climate Science

Feb 16 at 9:30am U.S. Productivity Growth: Looking Ahead

Feb 20 at 11am Symposium: Generative AI, Free Speech & Public Discourse 

Feb 21 at 6pm Wikipedia:Meetup/NYC/February 2024

Feb 22 at 5pm AI Meetup (February): AI, GenAI, LLMs and ML

Mar 8 at 12pm Developing the FloodNet NYC Community Engagement Strategy

Mar 16 at 11am Queens Name Explorer Edit-a-Thon

Mar 16-24 Open Data Week – Sign up for announcements

Mar 23 NYC School of Data – Save the Date!

Announcements, Job Openings and Opportunities 📢

Submit to this list by filling out this form and see our #Jobs channel in Slack for more posts.

Join our community! 🛸

Like this newsletter and what we do? Donate to our 2024 campaign. Your support will help sustain our apprenticeship programs, civic data research and assistance capabilities, and public programming in 2024.

See you next month! Peace, openness, and gratitude 🗽