Civic Innovation Lab


The Civic Innovation Lab enables us to learn about and solve problems with our neighbors. We work with elected officials, government agencies, and community-based organizations to address pressing research and technology issues. We use data, technology, design, and our own internal knowledge of New York City civics to address emergent requests and help provide digital services to as many organizations as possible, especially under-resourced organizations.

What We Do

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

The lab’s main activities are responding to research and data assistance requests inquiries, better known as RADARs.

If you need ANY technical assistance, data analysis, or research, our Research and Data Assistance Requests (RADARs) can help. Read more about our RADAR process.

Lab services:

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

Lab Values:

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

How we work

Research and Data Assistance Requests (RADARs) are 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. 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 allows them 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.