(Photo by April Joyner)
New York City is widely recognized as a leader in the open data movement among local governments. The city now makes more than 1,600 data sets available to the public. But posting those data sets online, as we’ve discussed here at Technical.ly, is only the first step toward making city government truly transparent and accessible to residents — especially those without coding chops.
The civic-tech organization BetaNYC recognizes this. It’s partnered with the city on several initiatives, including the People’s Roadmap to a Digital New City, a manifesto for how open data should be implemented. Since its publication in 2013, the roadmap has led to 14 proposals before City Council, seven of which have become laws, according to the group.
Now BetaNYC is looking to update the roadmap.
Just as the original 2013 version was written in advance of that year’s mayoral election, this year’s revision falls during a similar political occasion. Thursday night, BetaNYC is leading a brainstorming session for version 2.0 of the roadmap at the Bushwick headquarters of Carto. The event, which is free to attend, will be held from 7 to 9 p.m.
Carto itself is a proponent of the open data movement, as evidenced in this post last year from former sales engineer Chris Whong, now the director of NYC Planning Labs. On several occasions, the company has sponsored and hosted events in relation to the city’s open data portal. Most recently, on Tuesday night, the company hosted a class, taught by employees Jeff Ferzoco and Tyler Bird, on using its platform to make maps from NYC open data.
Tuesday’s event was held in conjunction with the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics and the Department of Parks and Recreation. The instructional content reflected that partnership: one exercise, for instance, involved plotting the city’s trees alongside points where 311 requests have been made for new trees to be planted. In addition to the instruction in using Carto, the evening also featured lightning talks from developers and analysts who demoed projects making use of the city’s open data.
By the end of the night, the company’s enthusiasm for the city’s open data initiative was readily apparent.
“We would not be what we are as a company without open data,” Ferzoco said.