Local civic hacking has had a boost in many cities in recent years with the help of Code for America Brigades, volunteer efforts to bring open gov communities together. In New York, the group is called BetaNYC, organized by Noel Hidalgo and Chris Whong.
Last week, it kicked off an eight-week project called Beyond Transparency to craft tools in the areas of land use, transit, public safety, 311 and education. Attend their next meeting at the Blue Ridge Foundation, “Crime and Public Safety Data Hack Night.”
On its first night, the group broke into small teams in each of the issue areas and came up with a list of statements using the construction: “If I had __________. I could do _______.”
Here are some of the statements that they came up with:
- “I could set better Community Board agenda topics, if I had better 311 information.” 
- “If we had a commute time filter we could build better school choice tools for students.” [Education]
- “We could do better street planning if we had access to an editable map.” [Transit]
- “We could assess the benefits of traffic calming measures if we had better government data, and if we had better crowdsourced/community-generated data. “[Transit]
- “I could provide a better interface for crash data entry if we were able to work with the NYPD to facilitate a unified entry point for data.” [Public Safety]
- “If I had: a list of all building violations, I would: not waste time looking at apartments in a moldy building.” [Land Use]
- “If I: knew how many trees were in a neighborhood, I would: know which neighborhoods I would like to live in.” [Land Use]
That last comment is slowly but surely being addressed with TreeKit, though it would go much faster if the Parks Department committed to getting behind the tree mapping application.
See all the statements that came out of the group and get more detail on Beyond Transparency’s kickoff here.
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