BetaNYC pre-history

Timeline of action, change, and progress:

Background & 2008

During the US Presidential election a number of civic minded technologists, developers, designers, advocates, activists, and journalists untied under the banner of “Twitter VoteReport.” Spurred on by a Personal Democracy Forum blog post from Allison Fine, fanned by Nancy Scola, the Associate Editor of techPresident, and the pioneering work of Ushahidi, concerned citizens worried about voter fraud and interested in new ways of civic engagement did something never done before. Working across America, they rallied together to create a website, mobile app, and administrative dashboard where citizens could “check-in” to their poll site, report on wait time, election shenanigans, and see others’ reports.

This series of events, hackathons, and developer / designer days, set the foundation for what would become the Open New York Forum. (Rocketboom VideoFast Company ArticleTwitter BlogOm Mailk)




  • Partnered with New Work City, an NYC coworking office space, to be part of New Work University. New Work City University was a series of monthly classes and workshops focusing on cutting edge conversations affecting the NYC technology / start up community.
  • Introduced NYC’s Chief Digital Officer to the technology community.
  • Hosted OpenGov Camp, an unconference about tools for change.
  • In Spring, spearheaded the creation of the Transparency Work Group linking together NYC’s civil society and civil liberty organizations with policy technologists to advocate for the passing of’s open data legislation.
  • At, a municipal hackathon to re-imaging, members of the Open NY community won the best interface award –
  • Through Spring and into winter, Open NY’s organizing efforts were invested in working and negotiation with NYC’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) and NY City Council to bring about the right legal language we want to see in the City’s Open Data Law.


  • Focused efforts on private conversations with City Councilmembers and NYC’s DoITT to further developments on (then Intro-29a) Local Law 11 and open data efforts in NYC.
  • Local Law 11 of 2012 is passed. This law is heralded as the most progressive municipal open data law.
  • NYC Open Data Policy Hack Day, members of the community pre-organized responses and attended with a list of suggestions that were incorporated into the OpenData Standards.
  • Continuing our tradition of placing an event around Personal Democracy Forum, members of the Open NY community organize PDF Applied, bringing leading civic “hackers” together with practitioners in government and NGOs to build tools that enhance civic life through technology-driven innovation.
  • In response to the Superstorm Sandy, NY Tech Responds was formed and members of the Open NY community stand up several tools to help the affected region.
  • Sandy Coworking, as half of Manhattan sat without power and the area’s coast line in ruin, New Yorkers needed a place to reconnect, recharge, and reengage with their community. The Sandy Coworking map connected offices with available capacity with individuals and organizations who needed a warm place, electricity, and connectivity – physical, emotional, and digitally.
  • Code for America hires Noel Hidalgo to be their NYC Program Manager and official takes over as Open NY Forum’s sponsor.