NYC Celebrates Open Data Week 2020, Making Free Public Data Accessible

Today marks the beginning of Open Data Week, a citywide festival celebrating New York City and the public data available on nyc.gov/opendata. Convened by the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) and BetaNYC, the goal of Open Data Week is to advance open government, technological literacy, and civic engagement through fun, thought-provoking, and mostly free events. Events during this festival are organized by academic institutions, artists, City agencies, entrepreneurs, companies, non-profits, and individual New Yorkers, all of whom will share their unique perspectives about using NYC Open Data.

Open Data Week 2020 starts February 28 with the opening of the Data Through Design art exhibition, and concludes on Saturday, March 7, with the day-long NYC School of Data community conference. In between, New Yorkers can attend events to see and make their own data-inspired art; build apps; join a squirrel counting expedition; explore tools for data visualization; go on a scavenger hunt; and learn about how Open Data can be used to understand topics such as the environment, social services, transportation, real estate, and public health. To learn more about the festival and view a full calendar of events, visit open-data.nyc.

“We are proud to launch into the next decade of NYC Open Data with the most diverse offering of Open Data Week events yet, from an art exhibit to a live squirrel census,” said NYC Chief Analytics Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics Kelly Jin. “What all these events have in common is that they are community-driven and inspired by the vision of Open Data for All. This week, all New Yorkers are invited to join us in learning how the City’s data can inspire curiosity, build insights, and empower communities.”

“New York City’s Open Data portal is an incredible resource for those working in government, advocates, researchers, and all New Yorkers,” said Jeff Thamkittikasem, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations, which oversees MODA. “Open access to data means open access to the information that makes our city run. We are excited for this year’s Open Data Week, and hope people take advantage of these great events.”

“Open data keeps City government honest, accountable, and strategic as we work to improve the quality of life for millions of New Yorkers,” said Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Commissioner Jessica Tisch. “I am committed to government transparency and, as such, DoITT takes its management of the Open Data Portal seriously — including helping to identify, prepare, and preserve these invaluable datasets.”

“When BetaNYC and MODA first started Open Data Week in 2017, we had no idea that it would grow to the citywide festival it is today,” said Adrienne Schmoeker, Deputy Chief Analytics Officer and Director of Civic Engagement and Strategy at MODA. “The diversity of events, organizers, and attendees is not the only representative of all that we love about New York City, but also demonstrates the vast potential of making information available to the public through a public data service like NYC Open Data. We are looking forward to another inspiring Open Data Week, and we hope you’ll join us.”

“Open Data is vital to public engagement and participatory solution-making that serves all New Yorkers,” said NYC Chief Technology Officer John Paul Farmer. “Not only does it increase transparency, but it is also core to true innovation and the development of new tools and applications that serve the public. The series of events during NYC Open Data Week is an opportunity for New Yorkers to learn about open government, technology, data, and how each of us can take part in efforts to enhance lives here in New York City.”

Most Open Data Week events are free of charge and open to the public. Some highlights are listed here, and the full event schedule and details are available at open-data.nyc.


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February 29 – March 10: Data Through Design Art Exhibition: Digital Twin (No Registration Required)
Wallplay Gallery, 12:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m.
357 Canal St, Manhattan, NY 10013

Data Through Design is a week-long exhibition celebrating tangible and multimedia expressions of New York City’s Open Data. The objective of the exhibit is to enable curious makers such as technologists, artists, and designers to create novel methods of map-making, present new narrative perspectives, and develop a deeper understanding of life in the city using data as a medium. The theme of this year’s exhibition is “Digital Twin,” a term used to describe a virtual replica of a real-world object or phenomenon. For more information about exhibiting artists or Data Through Design, please visit: 2020.datathroughdesign.com/.

March 4: DATA2GOHEALTH and Ourhome.NYC Scavenger Hunt (Register)
Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, Cadman Plaza West, Brooklyn, NY 11201
3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Join Measure of America for their second-annual Scavenger Hunt. You’ll gain exposure to fun and interactive data tools, DATA2GOHEALTH.NYC and OurHome.NYC, developed for understanding the social determinants and disparities in health and well-being in NYC. Using these tools, you’ll find nearby locations that match clues, and submit photo proof via Twitter. The winning team will be announced at a networking happy hour at the end of the event and will be awarded with a donation to the nonprofit of their choice.

March 5: Exploring Bronx Community Health Data (Register)
CUNY on the Concourse2501 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY 10468
1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Hosted by Lehman College’s Bronx Business Tech Incubator, experts from the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Pratt Center for Community Development will talk about their work using NYC Open Data to analyze community health statistics. Learn how to incorporate resources from NYC Health’s Community Health Profiles and EpiQuery tools, and Pratt’s Neighborhood Data Portal into your research, grant writing, programming, and evaluation at this training, and keep a tab on your community’s health.

March 5: NYC Open Data for History Nerds & Archives (Register)

1 Centre Street, 19th Floor, Manhattan, NY 10007
7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

The Urban Archive team is on a quest to make the digital collections of museums, libraries, and historical societies more accessible to the broader public through their platform. Join the team for a discussion on how the organization addresses the challenge of accessibility of historical photos through the power (and magic) of open data, design, and collaboration. Urban Archive will talk about their platform, the open data tools they are using to build it, and set aside time to answer questions from the audience during this event hosted by the Manhattan Borough President’s Office. See historical NYC come alive through archives and Open Data.

March 7: NYC School of Data (Register)
CUNY Law School, 2 Court Square, Queens, NY 11101
9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

NYC School of Data is a community conference, organized by BetaNYC that demystifies policies and practices around civic data, technology, and service design. This year’s event concludes NYC’s annual Open Data Week and will feature over 55 sessions organized by The City’s civic technology, data, and design communities. The conversations and workshops will leave you more knowledgeable about the NYC data ecosystem and equip you to become civically engaged in your neighborhood. Join BetaNYC and the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics to celebrate the end of NYC Open Data Week in style! Scholarships and free childcare are available.

“We are excited to kick off the next decade with Open Data Week and we hope to see you at the conclusion on Saturday, March 7th at NYC School of Data, with over 55 sessions, panels and workshops at CUNY Law School!” said Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC and organizer of School of Data. “Ten years ago, when we first met Gale Brewer, peered into the City’s open data mine, and started celebrating International Open Data Day, we realized the need for a broad, interdisciplinary community that would build and sustain new systems and practices. This has been a collective effort. Through passage of the transformative open data law, its amendments, system upgrades, hearings, hackathons, classes, partnerships, events, enshrining the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics in the Charter, and building the City’s Civic Innovation Fellowship, we have collectively set a solid foundation. Let us continue working together to build our future. Happy Birthday NYC Open Data!”

“We are always excited to be a part of Open Data Week,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. “I sponsored the Open Data bill years ago, in order to make government more transparent and efficient, and I believe that is just what open data does.  This year my office will host several informative sessions and I look forward to speaking at School of Data at the end of the week.”

“I’m a believer in all possible data being free and open to the public to improve government transparency,” said Council Member Robert Holden, Chair of the City Council Committee on Technology. “I’m happy to see the city partner with organizations like Beta NYC to create initiatives that support the increased accessibility of data for all New Yorkers.”

“Data about how our city works can help us tell stories about who we are, where we are going, and what we need to do to build a better future,” said Council Member Brad Lander. “Open Data Week helps New Yorkers learn about how to access information and how to use it to make sense of our shared city. The researchers, non-profits, agencies, and individuals who make use of this information help us build public accountability, shed light on problems, and better serve our city.”

“Information is power and the work New York City has done to improve and expand access to Open Data is making New Yorkers more powerful,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “Streamlining Open Data and launching a more open and dynamic platform is invaluable and will undoubtedly be an asset that New York City benefits from. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for his vision and foresight in making sure our City has a plan for Open Data that will endure the next 10 years. I hope that people attending the Open Data Week Festival will experience the multitude of ways that data can be adapted and applied usefully to a variety of fields.”

“For this year’s Data Through Design exhibit, we chose the theme ‘Digital Twin’ in order to foster critical dialogue about the role that data plays in our civic lives,” said this year’s Data Through Design Committee. “The artists will exhibit their own ‘Digital Twins’ — using avatars, simulation models and artificial intelligence — through interactive and experiential pieces that reflect on how individuals, societies, cities and natural systems are impacted by digital world-making.”

The events during this festival will also help to advance the strategic plan for NYC Open Data, a 10-year vision to launch a more open and dynamic platform, build greater capacity within City agencies to benefit from and contribute to Open Data, establish program-level policies and metrics, bring in new publishers whose work affects the lives of New Yorkers, and foster connections between people whose questions might be answered with public data and tech-savvy communities who are interested in helping to find solutions.

NYC Open Data contains thousands of free datasets from City agencies and is jointly managed by the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT).

MODA promotes the use of Open Data both within the government and in the broader community. DoITT oversees the more technical aspects of the Open Data platform by working with City agencies to identify and make data available, and by coordinating platform operations and improvements. Each City agency also has an Open Data Coordinator, who serves as the main point of contact for the Open Data team and the public, and works to identify, document, structure, and manage the agency’s public datasets.

With billions of rows of data, and more than a million visitors each year, Open Data is the definitive source of information about New York City for every New Yorker. Learn more at nyc.gov/opendata.

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