New York City

New bills makes NYC data more accessible

From school bus routes to DNA analysis

December 7, 2015 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn tree census data, in map form. Data courtesy of Open Data for All
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 Looking for information on the millions of trips taken by yellow cabs in New York City? How about the city’s data on rat inspections or daily school bus breakdowns?

Mayor Bill de Blasio signed a package of bills last week making city data easier to find and understand, through an extension of the Open Data for All program.

“Open data makes it easier for New Yorkers – the tech savvy and the tech un-savvy alike – to access, navigate, and understand city data,” de Blasio said at the Monday bill signing.

“We’re already traveling all over the city talking to graduate students in Queens, talking to entrepreneurs in Harlem, to local elected officials in Brooklyn, and people everywhere about how to put Open Data to work so New Yorkers can make informed decisions and become more engaged in their communities,” he added.

The data will make it easier for civic groups, neighborhood associations and advocates to dig out the nuggets of information they need to make the city work better.

This includes the arcane – like the number of DNA samples submitted to the Chief Medical Examiner for analysis – to the commonplace, such as the list of school bus routes.

Department of Information, Technology, and Telecommunications Commissioner Anne Roest said that beginning this summer, MODA and DoITT will be conducting a Citywide Engagement Tour to inform people about the program.

The events will give New Yorkers “opportunities to ask questions, provide feedback, and learn more about Open Data for All,” she added.

As of July 2015, there were over 1,350 data sets available. The data can be accessed by visiting

The bills were sponsored by Councilmembers Fernando Cabrera, Vincent Gentile; Ben Kallos, Richard Torres and James Vacca, chair of the Committee on Technology.

In July, the city also launched a pilot program called Data Lens, which produces visualizations of certain data sets. Accessing the visualizations requires no programming, according to the city.

Data Lens will initially be available for five data sets: Universal pre-K locations, restaurant locations, NYC311 service requests, NYPD motor vehicle collisions, and WiFi hotspot locations.

De Blasio signed the bills along with a handful of other measures covering emergency repair for residential buildings, extending the Biotechnology Tax Credit and extending the current rate of hotel room taxes. The mayor also held a public hearing for Intro. 314-A, which will be signed at a later date and is related to the establishment of the Department of Veterans Services.


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