BetaNYC group looks and smiles at the camera after the M4E 2024 Spring Field Mapping Event

2024 Spring Mapping for Equity Events Re-cap

Walking the walk

BetaNYC is committed to empowering the public by demystifying open data, and the Mapping for Equity events are how we put that vision into action! In celebration of NYC Open Data Week 2024, we partnered with North Brooklyn Parks Alliance (NBK Parks), Senator Kristen Gonzalez, Assembly Member Emily Gallagher, City Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez, and City Council Member Lincoln Restler to map McCarren Park and learn about our Mapping for Equity (M4E) project. With M4E, we focus on collecting open data about our environment to create and advocate for more equitable public spaces in our communities. 

We hosted a new two-part version of M4E events for NYC Open Data Week. Typically, we have hosted Mapping for Equity events that only focused on field mapping. Previous Civic Innovation Fellows have taught participants how to collect data on the public realm and survey civic space by understanding what to look for. But this was just the beginning. With more experience, planning time, and capacity, we added a second part event where Fellows also taught the public how to enter that data into OpenStreetMap (OSM), the open data mapping platform. 

Genevive and Ashley hold up their mapping papers to show off the benches they documented.

Field Mapping in McCarren Park 

Our first event around field mapping took place on a gorgeous Saturday morning in one of the largest north Brooklyn parks, McCarren Park. BetaNYC, NBK Parks, and attendees gathered in the McCarren Parkhouse to enjoy croissants, listen to a presentation on the project, and hear earnest words from our local officials. Council Member Lincoln Restler spoke on advocating for parks in his district and accessible green space for his constituents.

During the opening presentation, we shared what data existed already on OpenStreetMap about McCarren Park’s public amenities.

Civic Innovation Fellows were then off to the races, leading their groups with maps, clipboards, and pens throughout McCarren Park as they taught newcomers how to survey public space. 

Participants learned how to read a map and mark out different amenities on their mapping papers while noting all essential details. We got feedback from our participants, and here’s some of what they found the most interesting:

Learning how few trash cans there are in McCarren park

Paying attention to all the details I wouldn’t notice otherwise

Seeing so many people enjoy the park!

This process sewed many seeds as many attendees returned to the second part of our event series. Their enthusiasm and engagement reinforced our beliefs in the value of mapping for equitable space.

Dimitri (Fellowship Associate) and Bianca (Fellow) guide attendees on OpenStreetMap (OSM).

Data Entry at Greenpoint Library 

We didn’t have the luck we had on Saturday with the weather as the rain drizzled throughout Wednesday, but dedicated and engaged members of the public still showed up and showed out to learn how to import data onto OSM. We all gathered in a classroom space on the second floor of Greenpoint Library with open windows that looked out onto Norman Avenue. 

Fellows meticulously led groups and showed them the ins and outs of OpenStreetMap. Returning attendees used their mapping papers from Saturday, but a challenge for newcomers who did not attend on Saturday was that they received the notes and marked maps of other Saturday mappers who could not attend. This challenge meant translating these foreign notes into OSM, and drove home how vital uniformity in note-taking and teaching a set way to document amenities when out in the field is, because in an ideal world, anyone could receive anyone’s mapping papers and be able to upload that data into OSM. 

The fellows taught a variety of nuances, such as understanding whether a feature is a point line or polygon, tagging the material of the amenity, and learning how to toggle on Mapillary footage that our Fellowship Associates have captured as a visual support. 

Surveying and documenting notes onto mapping papers is one thing, but understanding how to translate those notes to a community-agreed notation onto OSM is another skill. The Fellows met the challenge as McCarren Park was filled up on OSM after uploading data. Here are attendees’ thoughts on what they enjoyed from the data entry event:

I liked how we immediately had impact

Seeing how I can access and improve public knowledge and amenities

Learning how to explore.

Here are our results after adding our data to OSM…

Thank you to all of those who attended either both or one of our events! We could not have made such an impact on the map without your dedicated work and interest. The hugest thank you also to the local NYC OSM community members who supported in validating this data!

Fellows and attendees smile with accomplishment after they uploaded so much data to OpenStreetMap (OSM)!

What’s Next? Support Our Work!

We have more in store for you! By the end of May 2024, we will publish and print our Mapping for Equity zine, a playful booklet for all ages to learn about the project and encourages folks to engage in their public space. We’re also creating a Mapping for Equity campaign video to spread awareness and interest about our work. 

The Fellowship team wants to share our work to an even larger community. We are fundraising to go to State of the Map US 2024, OSM’s annual in-person conference, in Salt Lake City! We want to network with other OpenStreetMappers, identify potential new partners, share our vision, and learn about additional resources to strengthen the Mapping for Equity project. Help send us there! Go to to fund our participation! Any little bit helps. 

Dig this work and want stay up to date? Here are some pathways for you: 

  • Interested in testing out our M4E toolkit with your own community?
    • Email <> to be added to our list of test users!
  • Want updates of BetaNYC’s work?
    • Sign up for updates at + sign up for our newsletter 
  • Want to attend our next Fellowship event?
    • Join us on Friday, May 10th 3-6 PM for a collaborative event with El Puente and Community Tech NY for their May Discotech which will feature our 23-24 Fellows’ Graduation at 5:15 PM