Civic Innovation Lab

The Civic Innovation Lab is where BetaNYC learns about and solves problems with government agencies and community-based organizations using data, technology and design, as well as our own internal knowledge of New York City civics. 

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

We use data, technology, and design to address emergent requests and help provide digital services to as many under-resourced organizations as possible.

Our 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

If you need ANY type of technical assistance, data analysis, or research, our Research and Data Assistance Requests (RADARs) can help you.

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. 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.

Lab Values:

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

About our 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. They work with us to build their portfolio and gain exposure to municipal work. The main activities of the Lab are to respond to New York City’s community technology and data inquiries better known as RADARs.

  • Zhi He – Lab Manager
  • Associates


  • Research and Data Assistance Requests (RADARs)
  • Associates Program
  • Tools