Thursday, July 15, 2021

Hello friends,

Spring 2021 was a challenging semester for students, supervisors, employees across the country and world. A full year into the pandemic, Zoom fatigue, the digital divide, and technology problems were increasingly real for most. The arrival of the vaccine was a massive milestone and achievement, but represented several stressful steps for those taking it, to navigate around school and work schedules.
In spite of all this, here in New York City, after taking one semester off to recalibrate, the CUNY Service Corps launched. Fifty organizations and agencies in New York City signed up to host students remotely, and a few hundred students landed placements. BetaNYC was lucky to match with six stellar Service Corps fellows from John Jay College, Queens College, City Tech, and LaGuardia Community College. After an intensive training where fellows learned to teach Open Data to the public during Open Data Week, they then had six weeks to dive into datasets of choice and use their new analytical and visualization skills to tell stories. Below, please read about these awesome earthlings’ discoveries in NYC Open Data.

All in all, the Spring of 2021 was a testament to the resilience and dedication of people around the world to continue meeting their responsibilities amid quickly changing turf. To find an upside, one might look back at the intimate moments of connection that occurred along the way.

Wishing you a joyful summer,

— Emily, Civic Innovation Fellowship Program Director

Civic Innovation Fellows '21 NYC Open Data Stories

Housing Codes! NYPD Complaints! Women Resources! Film Permits! NYC Schools!
 In their final assignment, this year's Civic Innovation Fellows explored NYC Open Data across a variety of topics and built their own data stories. Here are some highlights of their work.
How are NGOs addressing the needs of women and families?
by Aaryan Nair
Using the NYC Women’s Resource Network Database, Aaryan explored the distribution of women and family service providers across the city. He investigated questions such as what percentage of female empowerment programs address primary (education, employment, health homelessness among others) and secondary needs (art, business, child care, youth service, faith etc.). NYC Map of Headquarters of Organizations by Zip Code

Investigating housing maintenance code complaints
by Kiona Barnes

Kiona used her experiences as a psychology major and prior work with community organizations to analyze the Housing Maintenance Code Complaints dataset. Through the dataset, she found how complaints were distributed across the five boroughs and zip codes.
Analyzing NYPD complaint and arrest data
by Joseph Liu

Joseph was curious about how many crimes occurred throughout the five boroughs, and how many of them were solved by the NYPD in recent years. With the NYPD arrests and complaints datasets, he discovered trends throughout precincts.

How did the pandemic affect film shoots in NYC?
by Sarah Park

While attending John Jay College of Criminal Justice, Sarah noticed there was frequent film shoots on campus, and became intrigued by NYC's film permits dataset. She decided to look at how the pandemic might have affected the number of film permits being granted across the city, as well as by borough.
Exploring the density of students and schools in Queens and the languages taught at them.
by Vansh Sharma

As a Queens native, Vansh looked at the number of high schools in Queens, how many students are enrolled and what languages are being taught. He found that the top three languages taught are Spanish, French and Mandarin respectively. 

Recent News


Informing NYC’s Internet of Things (IoT) Strategy

We spent a morning with Paul Rothman and Kate Hohman from the Office of the NYC Chief Technology Officer discussing their recently published NYC Internet of Things Strategy. Thank you both for a very thorough presentation, and participants, for all your great questions. The report details steps to creating a healthy, cross-sector IoT ecosystem in NYC that is productive, responsible and fair. You can read it here and you can view the event recording here. They’re looking for your feedback. If you see areas for improvement or want to share your thoughts please do so here.

S.T.O.P. x RadTech: Combating the Digital Divide with Privacy-Preserving Public Broadband

The Surveillance Technology Oversight Project (S.T.O.P.) x RadTech host a monthly event series on technology, social justice, and community. At their June event, Noel joined a panel with H. Trostle and Christopher Mitchell, moderated by Albert Fox Cahn, to discuss the current state of the digital divide and how to advance the movement for public broadband forward. Check out the event recording and look out for their next event on Meetup

State of GovTech 2021

BetaNYC, CivStart and the Office of the Public Advocate participated in the State of GovTech conference to discuss a project in the works to engage residents in the decision-making process of government around digital services and tech policy. Kate joined a panel moderated by Barbara Cohn with John Katt and Nick Lyell. View the event recording here.

Queens Tech Night

For our first in-person civic tech event in a WHILE, Onedeige, Kate and Zhi attended Queens Tech Night with Cornell Tech, NY Hall of Science, Pursuit, Office of the Queens Borough President, Queens Chamber of Commerce Tech Council, Queens College Tech Incubator, Queens Public Library, and Tech:NYC. We had a great time meeting new friends and hearing from speakers Julie Samuels, Executive Director and Founder, Tech:NYC and Dennis Walcott, President and CEO, Queens Public Library. It is SO nice being in a room with people excited about civic tech and the city. Thank you for inviting us, organizers!

YOU are invited to bring NYC Open Data to life with us at "NYC Alive! presents 'The City Is Yours Parade'" on Sat 7/31.

We can't wait to parade around on the LES with NYC Open Data friends on Saturday, July 31st (it WON'T be 20 degrees F like in this picture!). Join us for a sassy, in your face data-driven parade celebrating the re-awakening of New York City!! Artists will be building props and painting artworks for the remainder of July at Grace Space, 182 Ave. C on the Lower East Side and will hold a parade on Saturday, July 31st. They'll provide the paint and cardboard, NYC Open Data will provide the data, you bring your ideas and attitude!
Contact Jen Ray for more details to get involved at:

RSVP to join the fun!

A friendly reminder to relive NYC Open Data Week!

BetaNYC, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics and Data Through Design banded up with 120+ amazing organizers and tons of their events were recorded! Session videos are now available for you to watch at < >.

What's up?

Read on for recent content picks from our team and community. Share yours in next month's newsletter here.


Air quality is on many of our minds. Purple Air has a nifty real-time air quality map that #LESbreathe has been contributing to by the Williamsburg bridge. We also mapped our AQ on our morning commute with an ATMO tube loaned to us. And, NYC DOHMH took a look at the effects of the stay home order on air quality in NYC (maybe we need more pandemics?)

What Do We Know About Who Voted Early In The New York City Primary? by Brigid Bergin, WNYC and Jake Dobkin 

Jehiah Czebotar created a sankey diagram that illustrates rank choice voting in the NYC mayoral race.

How Weird Is the Heat in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver? Off the Charts. By Aatish Bhatia, Henry Fountain and Kevin Quealy

Price Parity in the United States by Anastasiia Komissarova

Check out these visualizations of the hanabi from the 1880’s!


New York’s Vaccine Passport Could Cost Taxpayers $17 Million by Sharon Otterman

“Making Sense of Maps and Data” at the Leventhal Map and Education Center by Tess McCann

How To Manage The Social Anxiety Of Your Workplace Return by Lydia McMullen-Laird

NYC Translation Law Often Ignored, at High Human Cost in the COVID Era by Christine Chung

Does It Hurt Children to Measure Pandemic Learning Loss? By Dana Goldstein

Failure to Thrive: NYC’s $100 Million ‘Diversion Centers’ for Mentally Ill Sit Empty or Barely Used by Greg B. Smith and Reuven Blau 

COVID Segregation Is Worsening Even As NYC's Vaccine Rollout Succeeds by Nsikan Akpan, Jaclyn Jeffrey-Wilensky and Mirela Iverac 

Good Decisions Need Good Data by Marisa Miodosky and María Lago

The Doctors are Not All Right by Julia Belluz

STOP reports on the serious consequences of facial recognition tech for the civil & constitutional rights of New Yorkers and how strong legislation at the municipal and federal levels is urgently necessary.

Tim Berners Lee auctioned a NFT representing his source code web by Alex Hern


On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed

Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall of the Secret Service by Carol Leonnig

Empire of Pain by Patrick Radden Keefe

Power to the Public: The Promise of Public Interest Technology by Tara Dawson McGuinness and Hana Schank

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion

On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century by Timothy Snyder 

While Justice Sleeps by Stacey Abrams

🎧  Listen

Surveillance and the City Episode 28: COVID-19 by William Owen

Check out this list of the Top 45 Women in STEM Podcasts 

 🤩 Accounts we’re following

21 in ‘21

Cornell Tech

Steven Romalewski



Our Park


Rachael Fauss

NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

Ariel Kennan

#️⃣ Hashtags we're watching









Upcoming Events

Jul 8 - 29 NYC Streets Plan Virtual Public Workshops hosted by NYC DOT

Jul 12 - Aug 12  the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission hosts a series of virtual meetings concerning regions across New York State

Jul 19 at 12pm Designing Universal Early Care and Learning in the United States hosted by New America

Jul 20 at 11am Demo Event: Four Innovative Apps for Food Pantries and Food Banks hosted by TechSoup

Jul 21 at 12pm Artificial Intelligence & Algorithms: How we train surveillance tools hosted by S.T.O.P. - Surveillance Technology Oversight Project

Jul 22 at 12pm The Future of New York City Streets hosted by APA-NYM Transportation Committee and Open Plans 

Jul 22 at 2pm Using Google's Data and Analytics Tools hosted by NJIT Digital Skills Bootcamps

Jul 29 at 6:30pm Docu-Talk: Filmmaker Tobe Carey on Building the Catskill Water System

Jul 31 at 11:30am New York Alive! presents "The City Is Yours Parade" on the Lower East Side

Announcements and Opportunities

To contribute to our listings, be sure it is mission aligned and submit your announcement, job listing, opportunity or request here.
Civic Fact of the Month 

Photo Credit: US Global Mail.

Ever wonder where zip codes originated? On July 1 1963, the United States Post Office formally implemented zip codes, with Adjuntas, Puerto Rico receiving the first zip code, 00601. However, not everyone was happy with the new system. People feared “being turned into numbers” according to U.S. Postal Service historian Jennifer Lynch. To help alleviate fears, the post office introduced Mr. ZIP, a cartoon character who grew to become popular with audiences. Learn more about the events leading to the adoption of zip codes, society’s reluctance and the immediate aftermath of zip codes. 

Support the public interest tech talent pipeline! 

Donate $21 to our 20$21 campaign this month to help us employ Civic Innovation Fellows and Apprentices to continue working and growing with us. We have a lot of work in store this next year!

Keep in touch on these channels: 

Peace, openness and gratitude  🗽

— BetaNYC
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