Civic News

NYC Planning Department launches ‘Labs’ unit to boost innovation

The group will be led by longtime mapper Chris Whong.

A map in the NYC Facilities Explorer. (Screenshot)

A new unit from the NYC Planning Department will aim to make the work of planning the systems of this enormously complicated city easier, more efficient and more open. (The group’s full charter was posted to GitHub, for example.)

The NYC Planning Labs announced itself to the world Monday morning, with a promise to incorporate state-of-the-art technology and best practices to the Planning Department. Mapping guru Chris Whong will head the unit.

“We are focusing on small projects that can go from concept to shipped in 4 to 6 weeks, with our customers being the internal divisions of the agency,” a message from the NYC Planning Department reads. “These can be web map explorers similar to the NYC Facilities Explorer, interactive data visualizations and animations, or simple purpose-built data tools that replace or complement our Planners’ routine workflows.”

Whong has for years been one of the most impressive people working in the mapping and civic tech space. He’s mapped the city’s subway commutes, property taxes, taxi trips and quite a bit more. Formerly at Bushwick’s CARTO, Whong joined the NYC Planning Department in April of 2016.

Series: Brooklyn

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