June 3, 2021

Hi Civic Tech Family,

Summer is on the horizon! 

My name is Gabrielle Langston, I’m a Civic Innovation Apprentice and a Data Analysis and Visualization Student at the Graduate Center, CUNY. While working at BetaNYC, I’ve helped produce School of Data 2020, Open Data Week 2021, and hosted our virtual community educational programs though the pandemic.

I think we can all agree these past few months have been turbulent yet filled with optimism. That is not to say we are out of the woods, but rather (hopefully!) at the beginning of the end of this cruel pandemic. Although our nation seems as divided as ever, I believe we can use the positive momentum to work together, especially with people we disagree with, to rebuild our city, our nation, and our world. In this message, I have three important things to share with you.

Our municipal election is here!

It is refreshing to witness progress in the White House, and disheartening to observe the partisan division within Congress. Although midterms are not until next year, here in New York City we find ourselves in a unique primary season with the Mayoral, Comptroller, Public Advocate, 4 Borough President and 35 City Council seats up for election.

Now is the time to read about candidates, watch debates and candidate forums, and learn about rank choice voting. If you can’t vote, make sure your voice is heard because it still counts. If you need to vote absentee, know that the deadline to request an absentee ballot is June 15th while the deadline to return your ballot is June 22nd. If you plan to vote in person, you can also vote prior to primary day; there is early voting from June 12th to June 20th. Find out more info at NYC Votes.

If you need to find out who’s on your ballot, visit ElectNYC's voter guide where you can enter your address to find your candidates.

If you’re having trouble choosing your top 5 candidates for Mayor, The City has an interactive quiz to help you narrow your choices.

I implore all of you to take the June 22nd primary seriously, these winners will likely lead New York City though the next decade and beyond.

Vaccines are widely available!

As with many of you, I know someone who has lost their life to COVID. Last August, my cousin Donzelle passed away from COVID after a long battle; he was 68 years old. And in a cruel twist of fate, he seemed to be recovering and doing well until he wasn’t. But unlike so many victims, Donzelle was able to talk with his treasured aunt, my grandmother, before his passing. I share this story not to evoke anguish, but to emphasize it’s important to cherish our loved ones and friends while they’re still with us. This past year has been a sobering reminder that tomorrow is not guaranteed and we must appreciate every precious moment. 

When the vaccine rollout began, it was a bittersweet moment. I was excited to have a treatment on the market, especially for the vulnerable population. But at the same time, I was saddened Donzelle did not live to see that day.  Both my mother and I were initially hesitant to receive the vaccine, and if you are, you have nothing to be ashamed about. I won’t proselytize my ideas on the vaccine, but the turning point in my uncertainty came when I realized I wasn’t getting the vaccine simply for myself, but also out of love for my family, friends and neighbors. As of June 5th, I will be fully vaccinated and look forward to celebrating this anniversary annually. To get your vaccine, visit or, text your ZIP code to 438829, call 1-800-232-0233 or check your local pharmacy’s website.

June is for justice.

The afternoon of April 20th was an emotional and tense afternoon not only for our country but for the world. As I awaited the jury’s verdict in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, I felt a sense of anxiety and trepidation of history repeating itself. Once the guilty verdict was announced, I battled with a simultaneous mix of emotions - happiness as the jury made the right decision, relief for George Floyd’s family and saddened that accountability is far too rare. George Floyd, like too many people of color, was a victim of a broken system, a system of institutionalized racism. As the daughter of two retired NYPD officers, I do not take these issues lightly. George Floyd’s murder catapulted us into a new chapter in American history and we need to have police reform as well as massive changes to our justice system. Stating “All lives matter” or “Blue lives matter” is a dismissive and ignorant attitude to the injustices people of color face daily. 

June is a month when many portions of our history intersect and cause us to reevaluate where we stand in history. We recognize the Tulsa Race Massacre, Juneteenth, the Stonewall riots and Pride Month to emphasize there are still communities who to this day struggle for recognition, acceptance and justice. This time last year, we were marching peacefully in streets across the city demanding justice and accountability. It is more important than ever we take the time to educate ourselves regarding these events, and not forget our history. The moment we stop discussing these events, they will become lost in our history. 

As we continue to have conversations on transparency and equality, I am confident we can use our voices to create a better society for everyone. The process will not be easy, but no change is seamless. I am thankful to be in a family that is not afraid to confront change and will help lead the way in the next chapter of our history. Recently, the BetaNYC team made our first commute to the office in over 14 months. It was wonderful to see everyone after so long and continue our strong, loving camaraderie.  

Our lives will never be the same; we will not return to normal, but rather a new normal, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it a better normal. 

Until we can see each other in person, please take care and help us fight for a better world.

Wishing you all the best,

Gabrielle Langston
Civic Innovation Apprentice, BetaNYC
M.S., Data Analysis and Visualization, Graduate Center, CUNY (Current Student)
BetaNYC Civic Innovation Fellow '20
CUNY New York City College of Technology, Class of 2020, Valedictorian

Recent News

Open Data Week 2021 👀

BetaNYC and the Mayor's Office of Data Analytics (MODA) hosted a virtual Open Data Week festival in March. Thousands of people from across NYC and the world tuned in for 136 events organized by civic tech community members and allies. 

📺 Check out the nearly 90 event recordings at or in this YouTube playlist, which were made possible by the Internet Society - New York Metropolitan Chapter. 

One highlight during the week was that certified teachers and teachers-in-training from the NYC Open Data Ambassadors program we developed with MODA and Queens Public Library hosted 10 Open Data classes. Participating in that cohort was this year's Civic Innovation Fellows. They helped introduce over 360 people to NYC Open Data, and one of the classes was our first ever Open Data training in Spanish. We applaud you and the other ambassadors for your teaching success.

Thank you to everyone who made Open Data Week so successful during such an eventful and unpredictable year. We appreciate you!

Cities x Digital Rights at MozFest 🦊 

 For 10 years, MozFest has brought us together to ensure that the internet benefits humanity. This year, we teamed up with the Cities Coalition for Digital Rights (CCDR) and UN Habitat to take action around digital rights and cities. In Become an advisor for the Cities’ Digital Rights Helpdesk, participants shaped a concept for a Digital Rights Helpdesk that would connect officials and workers in city governments with expert advisors on ethical AI and digital rights. You can watch the session here and read CCDR’s summary of the event here

Continue to experience MozFest until June 16th by accessing on-demand resources and recorded sessions here

RADAR supports the Queens Borough President 👏

Recently, we teamed up with the office of the Queens Borough President to redesign the Queens community board application and analyze demographics of newly appointed community board members. Our mission has been and will continue to be to increase diversity and accessibility in any way we can. Community boards should reflect the communities they serve, and there is no better place to do so than in Queens— the most diverse county in the United States!
Learn more about Queens Borough President Donovan Richard’s recent reforms and check out the stats on this year’s community board members.    

BetaBagels is back this Tuesday! 

Join us this Tuesday, June 8th at 9:30am for a morning briefing on The New York City Internet of Things (ioT) Strategy with the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer.

When: Tuesday, June 8th at 9:30am
Details: The NYC Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer recently published a strategy for creating a healthy, cross-sector IoT ecosystem in New York City that is productive, responsible and fair. It is structured around six key principles: Governance + Coordination, Privacy + Transparency, Security + Safety, Fairness + Equity, Efficiency + Sustainability, Openness + Public Engagement.
Please join us in reviewing it and meeting with their team to identify areas for improvement, and share a vision for connected technologies and good governance in NYC. The goal of bringing people together around this topic is to better understand where you see the risks and rewards of IoT in cities, where we require more information, and how we can ensure everyone has a say in shaping the strategy.

RSVP and tell us what your fave bagel is here in our bagel survey.

What's up?

Here are some recent content picks from our team and community. Share yours in next month's newsletter here.


Who's on your ballot? Prepare for the NYC Primary Elections with the ElectNYC Voter Guide.

Spend All Day With This Interactive Map Of NYC's Astounding Linguistic Diversity by Christopher Robbins

El asesinato cambia el mundo / Assassination changes the world by Teresa Margolles

Engage your senses via these set of visualizations by the Decolonial Atlas

Join the Tech Hustle Culture on their mission to change the world

Check out NYCLU’s Teen Activist Project 

Signal’s project on ads and privacy is mind boggling 

NY Tenants and landlords can finally apply for Emergency Rent Assistance Program  - Here's a helpful thread by @TheCityNY

A Blue Big Bird Stars In Alex Da Corte's Roof Garden Installation At The Met by Scott Lynch

The nyccensus package, courtesy of Natalie O’Shea, is a simple data-sharing package meant to ease the pains of accessing and wrangling publicly-available response rate data from the 2020 Decennial Census as well as other relevant demographic data from the American Community Survey at various geographic levels in New York City. 


Demystifying open data tells the backstory of this year’s Open Data Week

In Covid Vaccine Data, L.G.B.T.Q. People Fear Invisibility by Jillian Kramer

Citizens-created science for change by Laura Scherling 

Tech in the Post-Pandemic World by Kara Swisher

How will New York convert unused buildings into housing? By Rebecca C. Lewis

Should cops have to live in NYC? By Kay Dervishi

Why is New York City Called Gotham? A Nickname with a Millennium of History by Noah Sheidlower

NY Government Needs a Really Big Dose of Sunshine by Reinvent Albany

Ranked Choice Voting Information by New York City Board of Elections and New York City Campaign Finance Board

If You Care About Privacy, It’s Time to Try a New Web Browser by Brian X. Chen


Heart of Fire: An Immigrant Daughter's Story by US Senator Mazie Hirono

Glitch Feminism: A Manifesto by Legacy Russell

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee 

The Robotic Imaginary: The Human and the Price of Dehumanized Labor by Jennifer Rhee

Surrogate Humanity: Race, Robots, and the Politics of Technological Futures by Kalindi Vora and Neda Atanasoski

Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty

An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice by Khizr Khan

🎧  Listen

The Brian Lehrer Show - Meet the Candidates Series

Visualizing COVID-19 with Carl Bergstrom courtesy of Data Stories 

James Coupe: Warriors courtesy of Gesso

Color with Karen Schloss courtesy of Data Stories 

 🤩 Accounts we’re following

Common Cause NY

City & State NY


Adrienne Schmoeker

Streetsblog New York

Gersh Kuntzman

LES Breathe (Our Park)

Office of the Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams

NYC Mayor's Office of the Chief Technology Officer

Data & Society


LWV of New York

Citizens Union

New York City Council Committee on Technology

Center for Responsible AI @ NYU


#️⃣ Hashtags we're watching

















Upcoming Events 

Jun 6th at 11am Primary Election Debate: Mayoral Republican "Leading Contenders"

Jun 8th at 9:30am BetaBagels with the office of the NYC Chief Technology Officer to discuss their NYC Internet of Things Strategy

Jun 9th at 10am Bloomberg & NYC Media Lab host Machines + Media 2021

Jun 9th at 6pm Queens Tech Night 

Jun 10th at 7pm Primary Election Debate: Comptroller Democratic

Jun 15-16 State of GovTech 2021

Jun 10th at 7pm Primary Election Debate: Comptroller, Democratic on Spectrum News NY1

Jun 15th at 12pm Going Beyond "Gender Studies": June's Design for Women Conversation

Jun 16th at 7pm Primary Election Debate: Mayoral Democratic "Leading Contenders" on WNBC-TV

Jun 19th Juneteenth 🙌🏾

Jun 20th at 9:30am Primary Election Debate: Comptroller Democratic "Leading Contenders"

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 

Do you know the story of Oliver and Linda Brown? 
Perhaps you know their names from a landmark Supreme Court case...

In 1951, Oliver Brown filed a lawsuit against the Board of Education of Topeka after his daughter Linda Brown was denied admittance to the all-White elementary schools.

On May 17, 1954, the US Supreme Court made an unanimous ruling in the Brown v. Board of Education case. Furthermore, the chief attorney for the plaintiffs was none other than Thurgood Marshall, who would become the first Black Supreme Court justice just 13 years later. Learn more about the backstory of Brown v. Board of Education along with the preceding laws.

Source: AP (Associated Press)
Linda Brown was 9 in this 1952 photo.

Image; Linda Brown Smith

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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