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Welcome to NYC School of Data — a community conference that demystifies the policies and practices around civic data, technology, and service design. This year’s conference concludes NYC’s annual Open Data Week & features 60+ sessions organized by NYC’s civic technology, data, and design community! Our conversations & workshops will feed your mind and empower you to improve your neighborhood. Follow the conversation #nycSOdata on twitter and tune into our live stream (provided by the Internet Society New York Chapter).

To attend, you need to purchase tickets via eventbrite. Venue is fully accessible and content is all ages friendly — free, professional on-site childcare is provided for ALL participants! If you have accessibility questions or needs, please email us at < schoolofdata@beta.nyc >.

View Sessions by detail - room - grid. If you have any questions, please see our welcome to 2020 post or FAQ.

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Demo [clear filter]
Saturday, March 7

11:30am EST

Two Sigma's Data Clinic and a demo of their tools.

Data Clinic, the data and tech philanthropic arm of Two Sigma, encounters these hurdles on a regular basis, and actively develops tools and products designed to empower users to uncover value in open data. In this session, we will walk people through the use of two of our tools and kickstart a workshop to identify known pain points that still exist with open data and their potential solutions.

The solutions we will demo are:
  • smooshr: A tool for generating and sharing useful taxonomies derived from open data.
  • Newerhoods : A Data Clinic project that aggregates NYC Open Data at the tract-level and uses Machine Learning techniques to re-imagine neighborhood boundaries


Erin Stein

Two Sigma

Stuart Lynn

Two Sigma

Saturday March 7, 2020 11:30am - 12:30pm EST
1-204 - (24 ppl)

1:45pm EST

Popeye - Demo Session
"Popeye", a collaboration between Winnie Yoe and Rui An, is a data-driven interactive project that encourages critical reflection on weather modification and climate engineering. 

The project is informed by research in bioprecipitation, military history on weather modification programs, climate engineering and public policy debates. In the face of an imminent global climate crisis and lack of global action, some scientists believe that climate engineering is inevitable. As with the introduction of other new technologies, the implementation of climate engineering could be beneficial but is not without risk. As we think of ways to mitigate the effects of climate change, how much uncertainty is too much? What variables should go into risk assessment? 

With these questions in mind, we created "Popeye" — an interactive machine with a tongue-like and built-in barometric sensor that records weather and altitude data, which is visualized in a mobile app accessible to all audience. Aside from a barometric sensor, "Popeye" carries “rain-making bacteria” Pseudomonas syringae (the bacteria has been developed into a commercial product sold to ski resorts, and is now being researched for its properties in bio-precipitation). Both the sensor and bacteria are carried by a weather balloon and released into the atmosphere if specific weather conditions are met and if launch permission is granted through a democratic public voting.

Through the introduction of new technologies and public voting, we used "Popeye" as a metaphor for the precautionary principle debate. The precautionary principle, incorporated into many International laws, is based on the idea that when human activities may lead to morally unacceptable harm that is scientifically plausible but uncertain, actions shall be taken to avoid or diminish the harm. If one adheres to a strict interpretation of the principle, climate engineering research shall be halted for its potential damage. Yet, others would argue that we need to be realistic and accept some degree of environmental damage in exchange for climate protection. Through "Popeye", we use a participatory and accessible way to post questions and reveal the complexity in climate engineering debates, thus inviting the audience to engage in a constructive discussion in determining where should we draw the line.

*The project was first performed on Governors Island on Sep 2, 2019.


Winnie Yoe

New York University

Saturday March 7, 2020 1:45pm - 2:15pm EST
3-115-116 (Commons)

1:45pm EST

Pratt Center for Community Development - Demo of Neighborhood Data Portal
In 2016, Pratt Center for Community Development created the Neighborhood Data Portal (NDP), a free online mapping application that integrates 63 datasets to break down New York City’s neighborhoods by the numbers. By democratizing access to open government data and pairing it with essential planning tools like mapping and data analysis, the portal advances Pratt Center's mission to support low-moderate income communities to plan for the future they want to see.

In this interactive workshop, Pratt Center will demonstrate how the NDP acts as an intermediary between open data and community stakeholders who advocate for more equitable neighborhoods. Participants will gain a sharper understanding of the role that intermediary platforms like the NDP can play in transforming raw data into spatial and visual formats that help communities tell their stories. The workshop will also address the importance of trainings to help ensure that community development practitioners and community organizers are equipped to use intermediary tools regardless of their background in data collection, analysis, and representation. The importance of understanding metadata will also be highlighted.

Space and related requirements for this workshops include: a microphone (depending on size of space), a projector, and a computer.

avatar for Sadra Shahab

Sadra Shahab

GIS Specialist and Planner, Pratt Center for Community Development
Sadra Shahab is a GIS specialist + city planner at Pratt Center for Community Development. He provides GIS analysis and planning support to Pratt Center’s community planning and economic development projects. Prior to joining Pratt Center, he worked on several physical planning... Read More →

Saturday March 7, 2020 1:45pm - 2:45pm EST
2-116 - (30 ppl)

1:45pm EST

Transparency of the County Committee
ccsunlight.org has collected, digitized, and made available the membership of New York City's county committee system with the help of many local activists and citizens over the past 3 years. Attendees will learn about what county committee is, how it's relevant to them, and how local organizers are using open data to get a seat at the table.

avatar for Jonathan Crockett

Jonathan Crockett

Co-Founder, County Committee Sunlight Project
A software engineer by trade and passionate about citizen engagement, with the help of many dedicated citizens over the past four years, Jonathan co-founded CCSunlight.org to shed light on the county committee system in NY. Other projects Jonathan has been involved in include LetNYVote.org... Read More →

Isaac Anderson

New Kings Democrats
avatar for Angela LaScala-Gruenewald

Angela LaScala-Gruenewald

Field Director, Jesse Pierce for District Leader

Saturday March 7, 2020 1:45pm - 2:45pm EST
2-113 - (14 ppl)

2:30pm EST

Versioning NYC Open Datasets with Qri, a demo of their software
Demo details forthcoming.

avatar for Brendan O'Brien

Brendan O'Brien

caretaker, Qri
Brendan is a leader in the open source software development community and open data movement. He founded Qri (pronounced “query”) to help bring the benefits of open source software to public data. He helped to launch DataTogether.org, a network of communities, data scientists... Read More →

Saturday March 7, 2020 2:30pm - 2:45pm EST
3-115-116 (Commons)

3:00pm EST

Gaps in Climate and Flood Risk Data: What's Missing?
As decision making around flooding grows increasingly complicated, municipalities across the country are turning to data analysis to make better informed decisions. While hazard modeling is incredibly useful, it only tells part of the story. Proprietary datasets and predictive models must be combined with granular, on-the-ground data to be made actionable. Historically, this data has been hard to come by. Join us for a presentation and discussion on the state of national flood risk data. We'll share the work Forerunner is doing with coastal communities and offer perspectives on ways that municipalities are empowered to act.


JT White


Susanna Pho


Saturday March 7, 2020 3:00pm - 4:00pm EST
2-115 - (14 ppl)

3:00pm EST

Demo of the Hazard History & Consequence Tool and Office Hour with NYCEM data managers
The Hazard History & Consequence Tool is a database of historic hazard events and associated consequences that impacted New York City. It serves as a central repository of when, where, and what happened in the city during past events, and helps provide a local detail on the impacts of these events. We will demonstrate this tool, describe how it was created, and provide data samples for participants to work with. We would like to hear from the audience about suggestions and use cases for the tool and associated datasets. We are also available to answer general questions about NYCEM’s data.


Shraddha Ramani

NYC Emergency Management

Mohamed Amin

NYC Emergency Management

Saturday March 7, 2020 3:00pm - 4:00pm EST
3-301 - (60 ppl)

3:00pm EST

NYCDB, what is it and how to use it, by Housing Data Coalition
NYCDB is an open-source project of the Housing Data Coalition intended to make it easier for housing justice advocates to fight displacement in New York City.

Through this interactive workshop, you'll learn about the basics of NYC's housing-related open data by asking questions of NYCDB. You'll learn what a BBL (Borough-Block-Lot) is, and how to query NYCDB using a language called SQL. You'll also learn how to use other tools that build on NYCDB, like Who Owns What and the Displacement Alert Project (DAP) to aid you in housing research. At the end of the day, you'll have completed a NYC Housing Data Treasure Hunt and will have a better understanding of NYC's Open Data landscape.

No prior experience with open data or databases is required to attend this session.

Note: if there’s enough interest, we could actually split this session into two tracks, one of which is the workshop described above. The second track would involve contributing to the NYCDB open-source ETL tool itself and would require competency with Python, SQL, and the command-line.


Atul Varma

Lead Engineer and Tinkerer, JustFix.nyc
avatar for Maxwell Austensen

Maxwell Austensen

Housing Data Coalition
I'm a member of the Steering Committee for the NYC Housing Data Coalition. I am also the Data Manager for NYU Furman Center. Pronouns: He/Him
avatar for Noelle Francois

Noelle Francois

Founder, Heat Seek

Sam Raby

Data Lead & Engineer, JustFix.nyc

Saturday March 7, 2020 3:00pm - 4:00pm EST
1-204 - (24 ppl)

3:00pm EST

Open Data for All by All - a working session around data.beta.nyc
Subtitle: A proposal to co-create an Open Source Data Management Platform to help prepare for the next decade of Open Data

New York City has been on the forefront of the Open Data revolution, pioneering several innovations to advance Open Data as an integral part of its digital infrastructure in the first decade of Open Data.

To mention a few - passing one of the first municipal Open Data Laws, creating the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics, creating the Chief Technology Officer position, supporting various programs like NYCBigApps and the Open Data Advisory Council, etc. all supported by a vibrant civictech ecosystem with pillars like BetaNYC, CivicHall, and numerous other good government organizations, foundations and corporations.

As it starts on its second decade of continued Open Data innovation, NYC continues to build on this solid foundation.

In its 2019 Open Data Annual report, the City shared its Strategic Plan to prepare for the Next Decade of Open Data.

One of the key initiatives in this Strategic Plan is to "explore an open source platform that allows for continuous design, development, piloting, and implementation of new features—while ensuring equitable access to the underlying code for this public service."

In this presentation, Joel Natividad shares lessons learned over the last decade helping several dozen governments in the US with their Open Data platforms - starting with his first NYCBigApps win in 2010, parlaying that into co-founding a civictech startup that was supported by the City, being acquired by a Silicon Valley govtech firm, and joining a professional services helping the US federal government with its multi-tenant CKAN platform.

Joel also demoes the revitalized BetaNYC data portal that applies some of these lessons towards creating a viable community data commons, and how it can be harmonized with other community projects like NYCDB.

The session ends with a call for co-creation for the community to continue iterating on the platform.

avatar for Joel Natividad

Joel Natividad

Co-founder, datHere

Saturday March 7, 2020 3:00pm - 4:00pm EST
2-118 - (14 ppl)

4:15pm EST

NYC Tenant Problems, a data dashboard

NYC Private Housing Maintenance Problems - a Data Dashboard app

As an NYC tenant myself, I wanted to better understand the overall conditions of NYC private buildings, namely what type of maintenance problems people have to deal with.
Through the NYC Open Data portal, I accessed the main database of this study: 311 HPD Complaints (HPD, Dep. of Housing Preservation and Development is the agency that regulates housing conditions), where it is shown a list of tenant complaints about poor housing conditions on private multi-dwelling buildings. It includes problems like heating, electric, heat/hot water, unsanitary conditions, etc. Using this data, I applied statistics, GIS and R coding magic and I ended up learning insights about: 

1. The proportion and type of maintenance problems that private tenants face, currently and historically, as well as emerging and ongoing problems.

2. Where are the complaint hotspots, what neighborhoods are the worst vs. best? And who is most affected by the overall NYC's bad housing conditions?
Check out the study and the data dashboard here: NYC Housing Problems NYC

avatar for Vanessa Mateus

Vanessa Mateus

Geospatial Scientist, GeoBI Lab
I'm a geospatial scientist developing work about and around location intelligence. I'm interested in the development of location-based apps and dashboards.

Saturday March 7, 2020 4:15pm - 4:30pm EST
3-115-116 (Commons)

4:15pm EST

A new way to build apps with open data - an introduction to Signalpattern™
An interactive talk/workshop (anyone with a cell phone - smart or non-smart - tablet or laptop can participate) that proposes to empower NYC civic innovators and residents to create and share curated collections (“playlists”) of interesting data points and interactions for the NYC OpenData portal, with the goal of raising awareness, encouraging diverse community engagement and providing tangible social value from this important informational resource. Come get introduced to a public, free, web-based tool that help you learn NYC open data --> signalpattern.com.

The proposal envisions a 30-minute presentation followed by a 30-minute, full-audience-interactive session where everyone will learn how to use Signalpattern to search, use and share “playlists” and/or specific playlist items using live NYC OpenData APIs. This section could easily be longer and more in-depth if participants desire it and the time/room is available. Participants will leave with everything they need to continue building, sharing and using the “playlists” we create in the workshop.

avatar for Peter Semmelhack

Peter Semmelhack

CEO, Bug Labs
Peter Semmelhack is the founder and CEO of Bug Labs, which develops open source web services platforms for IoT. Peter authored Social Machines, and as a founding member of the rapidly growing open source hardware movement, and he is a frequent speaker at events around the... Read More →

Vishal Kumar

Director of Engineering, Bug Labs

Saturday March 7, 2020 4:15pm - 5:15pm EST
2-115 - (14 ppl)