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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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Saturday, March 7

11:30am EST

Office Hours with NYC 311
Join 311’s Open Data Coordinator Chenda Fruchter to learn about 311 service request data, one of the City’s most popular datasets. Ms Chenda Fruchter will give an overview of 311’s data, answer questions, and talk about future plans.


Saturday March 7, 2020 11:30am - 12:30pm EST
2-118 - (14 ppl)

11:30am EST

How to improve NYC's Board of Election data
In the first part of the session, we will explore Crosstown, a new application to make historical election results data from the NYC Board of Elections easier to analyze. NYCBOE data is currently siloed and is difficult to use to compare vote counts from different elections and different years. Crosstown is intended to be useful for voters, candidates, and campaign staff/volunteers by providing data visualizations -- including a map of the city broken down by borough, Assembly District, and Election District -- that make our complex elections system easier to understand.

In the second part, we will brainstorm about additional uses for NYCBOE data in order to propose a format for an election results dataset that could live on the NYC Open Data portal. Depending on the interest/skills of the audience, we may use our time to develop a proposal to the NYCBOE to build and publish that dataset.

avatar for Alec Barrett

Alec Barrett

Democratic District Leader
Alec is the lead developer at TWO-N, a boutique data visualization studio. He is also a member of Manhattan Community Board 9 and regular student at trainings by BetaNYC and the Manhattan Borough President's Office. He is an alum of the Recurse Center.

Saturday March 7, 2020 11:30am - 12:30pm EST
2-113 - (14 ppl)

11:30am EST

Vacant Storefront App w/ Astoria Tech
Astoria Tech recently launched the Location Wishlist app (https://vacant.astoria.app), a tool to gather community input on what businesses / storefronts they'd like to see open up at specific vacant locations. It works as follows:

  • Anyone in the community submits a vacant storefront (with photo)
  • That location gets a unique URL, which we print out a QR code sticker for
  • We post the sticker near the vacant storefront
  • People scan the QR code and submit/vote on what they wish would open there

On top of gathering community opinions which aren't being gathered anywhere else, the app (and all Astoria Tech content) was developed completely by volunteer engineers from the Astoria Tech Group. We coordinate online and have a monthly hack day to plan out next steps and get work done/started.

A few core contributors to the project will go over the specific trials and lessons from developing this app, the immediate goals and hopes for the app, and the overall community project vision for Astoria Tech.

avatar for Peter Valdez

Peter Valdez

Community Engineer, Astoria Tech
avatar for Blane Cordes

Blane Cordes

Organizer, Astoria Tech
Hi There, I\\'m Blane an engineer living in Astoria. We started a tech community here and have been building some fun apps for the neighborhood.

Saturday March 7, 2020 11:30am - 12:30pm EST
2-115 - (14 ppl)

1:45pm EST

New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS) - Office Hours
Get the details behind the New York City Community Air Survey (NYCCAS): 10 years of neighborhood scale street-level air quality data that is funded by the city council. There may be no better data available to look at spatial variability of Air Pollution across NYC. Talk to the data analysts in charge of the project at NYC HEALTH to find out more about the data collection, how we analyze it, what it can be used for, what are some pitfalls to avoid when using it, what data products are available and where you can find them. Weigh in on alternative data formats! We can offer insights into how NYCCAS data can help New Yorkers interested in assessing air quality of their neighborhoods through community science projects.


Sarah Johnson

Director, Air Quality Program, New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Neighborhood air quality in NYC. Sources of air pollution.

Saturday March 7, 2020 1:45pm - 2:45pm EST
2-118 - (14 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)

1:45pm EST

Improving NYC parking violations dataset
An update on an ongoing project with NYC Parking Violations dataset. I have geocoded over 80% of the dataset. This talk would provide background on data quality issues and how to resolve them. I would also like to reach out to the community for suggestions on how to enhance the data sets and make them more usable. i hope to make this data available on the Data.Beta.NYC portal in advance of the event.


Saturday March 7, 2020 1:45pm - 2:45pm EST
2-119 - (30 ppl)

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

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)

3:00pm EST

Open Data + High School Selection / Workshop
New York City offers a wide range of high school choices. With more than 700 programs at over 400 high schools, selecting and ranking up to 12 schools for our son’s high school application has been a daunting task for our family. Fortunately, New York City offers extensive data on all schools and programs on its Open Data portal. Using the right tools and search techniques, this information can be of tremendous help, allowing students and their parents to quickly narrow down the number of choices. One effective search technique, that can help in this scenario, is referred to us faceted search, or faceted navigation. Faceted search is often encountered on commercial Web sites and data catalogues and provides an intuitive method to efficiently narrow a set of data to the precise desired subset. In this session we'll look at the high school data available on New York City's Open Data portal, discuss the various attributes that students may want to consider when making their choice and then we do a live demonstration of how to build a fully functional web-based faceted search application on New York City high school data in just minutes, using Oracle's Low Code development platform APEX, running on the Oracle Autonomous Database Cloud Service.


Marc Sewtz

Senior Software Development Manager, Oracle

Saturday March 7, 2020 3:00pm - 4:00pm EST
2-117 - (14 ppl)

3:00pm EST

Unintended consequences - hunting for monsters in open data
In this workshop we will use the metaphorical figure of the monster to help participants question potentially dangerous assumptions about the provenance and validity of data, and identify areas of potential future concern caused by uncertainty and ambiguity. This questioning helps demystify the under reported work that underlies data (such as data gathering and cleaning), and encourages participants to think and act critically with regard to technology. The session is informative, instructive, and interactive. It lasts 1 hour and is divided into three stages:

1) Why monsters? (15 minutes)
To start the workshop we reintroduce participants to the figure of the monster to show its original purpose was to act as a warning, particularly with regard to the unknown. We use familiar examples from popular culture, and historic examples from across the world, to show how the monster can be more complex and ambiguous than is typically understood today. We use the example of Dr. Frankenstein, and the creature he creates, to highlight the need for designers and developers of new technology to proceed intentionally and with care for their creations.
2) How to find monsters: (15 minutes)
In the second stage, participants are introduced to the 5WsH technique for creatively probing a topic, and to the specially designed hexagonal worksheets we use for identifying places where monsters might lurk. The 5WsH technique teaches participants to pose Who, What, Why, Where, When, and How questions about a topic. The hexagonal worksheet allows us to approach these questions in any order, without privileging any particular one. Where there is uncertainty, or the answer to a question is unknown, we mark a potential monster hiding place.
3) Practical monster hunt: (30 minutes)
In the final stage of the workshop we ask participants to hunt for monsters themselves. Using an example data set, for example NYC 311 open data, we ask participants to:
a. Come up with a set of 5WsH questions that will probe the provenance and validity of the data, e.g. by considering How, by Who, and for What purpose the data were gathered.
b. Pose the questions they come up with to the data set
c. Identify the warning signs of uncertainty and ambiguity at the places where assumptions are being made, and so from where monsters might emerge
d. Consider how the monster might be domesticated, problems mitigated, and uncertainty reduced.

avatar for Graham Dove

Graham Dove

Research Assistant Professor, NYU's Tandon School of Engineering
I am a design focused Human-Computer Interaction researcher with a focus on participatory approaches to working with machine learning, and personal or open data

Anne-Laure Fayard

New York University

Saturday March 7, 2020 3:00pm - 4:00pm EST
2-113 - (14 ppl)

4:15pm EST

Hands on workshop - R + Election Data, learn to create a walk sheet for every election district in the county
Every political campaign, no matter how big or small, needs walk sheets to guide canvassers during door-knocking and petitioning.  Larger political campaigns have the resources to purchase cleaned voter files and pay for apps to create bespoke walk sheets.  Smaller campaigns use public data (the raw voter file from the Board of Elections) to create walk sheets. Brooklyn has over 2 million voters and 1,800 election districts, so it is especially time-consuming.  In this workshop, we’ll walk you through our open source R script to create a walk sheet for every election district in the county for the Rep Your Block campaign in Brooklyn.   

Rep Your Block
The Brooklyn Democratic County Committee is the most local level of Democratic party governance. The County Committee’s duties include choosing local judicial candidates, choosing the Democratic nominee in special elections (1 in 3 current New York State legislators were elected via a special election), and creating the Democratic party platform, among other things. There are roughly 5,000 members in the committee, but unfortunately, many of these seats lie vacant. The RepYourBlock campaign was created in an effort to organize Brooklynites interested in participating in the party and to support candidates running for County Committee by providing the funds and resources necessary to complete the campaign process.

In this workshop we’ll cover: 
  • What’s in the raw voter file
  • The process for correcting some of the many misspelled street names and other idiosyncrasies of the Brooklyn voter file
  • Ordering the sheets in an approximation of how a canvasser might walk the streets
  • Highlighting recently active voters for each district
  • Creating maps of each election district using shapefiles from NYC open data
  • Creating the file structure and writing out the maps and walk sheets formatted for print and digital
  • Making the ED walk sheets accessible to the correct canvasser
Along the way, we’ll discuss the privacy concerns of working with the BOE voter file, lessons learned, and how we would have done it differently if we had more time.  We’ll talk about how to fork the script on github and generalize it for other counties in New York or beyond.  Finally, we’ll turn it over to participants to brainstorm ways to improve the script, point out things we missed, and maybe even start improving it.
This will be a hands-on workshop, so experience with R, and a laptop with R installed will make this workshop especially worthwhile.  Beginners welcome!  We’ll discuss many topics outside of R along the way so non R-users are also welcome.


Sara Hodges

Director of Data and Visualization, EdBuild

Saturday March 7, 2020 4:15pm - 5:15pm EST
2-113 - (14 ppl)

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)