Picture in front of city hall stairs

Civic Innovation Lab


The Civic Innovation Lab is where BetaNYC learns about and solves problems with government agencies and community-based organizations. We use data, technology, and design as well as our own internal knowledge of New York City civics to address emergent requests and help provide digital services to as many under-resourced organizations as possible.

What We Do

Our lab focuses on strategy, events, design, technology, and data wrangling. Our goal is to rethink civic engagement for the 21st century.

Lab Values
  • Develop a clear understanding of the need.
  • Use lightweight solutions to address immediate needs.
  • With our associates, foster leadership and grow experience.
Lab Services

The main activities of the Lab are to respond to New York City’s community technology and data inquiries better known as RADARs. Our services include:

  • Releasing, preparing and vetting open data
  • Data scraping
  • Data visualizations
  • Data analysis and modeling
  • Online maps and visualizations
  • De-duplicating and linking data (Dedupe)
  • API development
  • Geospatial analysis and transformation
  • Mobile Application and Website development
  • User research
  • Open source software development
Lab Team

The Lab Manager manages day-to-day operations and three Lab Associates.

Lab Associates are graduate students working towards degrees in urban planning, data analysis, policy, and other digital humanities related fields. Associates receive personal attention from BetaNYC staff. We aim to deepen their professional experiences and while they are given exposure to civic tech work, and learn how to work with New York City government, municipal data, mapping, communication tools, and developing their teaching skills. 

Research and Data Assistance Requests (RADAR)

If you need ANY type of technical assistance, data analysis, or research, our Research and Data Assistance Requests (RADARs) can help. RADAR is BetaNYC’s Civic Innovation Lab’s response to a growing need for public interest technology, data and research assistance. It grew out of a trend in New York City stakeholders approaching us with a diverse collection of data, technology, and information design inquiries. Simply, RADAR works like this: anyone from a mission-aligned purpose can submit a request to receive support from our lab on a civic technology or open data challenge. 

We triage RADARs using the following questions as our criteria: how much time will it take?, what skills are needed?, will it benefit the public good?, does it align with our goals?, does the resolution already exist somewhere?. 

Once in our system, we engage the client in a collaborative process that meets their needs and serves them as an opportunity to gain new civic data and analytical capacities. For requests that don’t pass our filters, we refer them to our community network of allies who have expressed interest or ability.

Dig Deeper

Open Data Curriculum

The lab developed a number of workshops and tools to demystify open data and turn it into action.

SLA Mapper (SLAM)

A data aggregation tool for community boards reviewing liquor and sidewalk cafe applications.

NYC Batch Geocoder

Import a spreadsheet with New York City addresses and get latitude and longitude information in a heart-beat.