Press Release

March 7, 2013
No. 003


More than 1,000 Data Sets Now Available to Public at No Charge – with New Data Added Daily

New York City Chief Information and Innovation Officer Rahul N. Merchant today announced the strides made by the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) on implementation of New York City’s historic open data legislation. Local Law 11 of 2012, which requires City agencies to systematically categorize and make accessible in “open” formats their public data sets, reached a significant milestone today, one year after its signing by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. March 7, 2013 marks the date by which data on must also be made available in machine-readable formats on NYC OpenData, the City’s centralized platform for data from more than 60 agencies. Today, there are approximately 1,750 unique representations of more than 1,000 raw data sets available at no charge via NYC OpenData, with new data added every day. Available data sets span the full range of City operations, including cultural affairs, education, health, housing, property, public safety, social services, transportation, and more. As outlined by the legislation, agencies with public data sets not yet accessible in open formats are now working with DoITT to determine when this data can be made available.

“Data are the building blocks of the digital age, and our open data legislation – the most ambitious and comprehensive in the country – ensures New York City will continue to blaze the technological trail for the next generation,” said Chief Information and Innovation Officer (CIIO) Merchant. “Under the leadership of Mayor Bloomberg, New York City has for more than a decade set the standard for government transparency and accessibility. Local Law 11 of 2012 puts an exclamation point on that proud legacy, ensuring that future mayors must continue building upon the Bloomberg Administration’s historic transparency gains. I thank Speaker Quinn and Council Member Brewer for their remarkable efforts in passing the bill, and the New York City Transparency Working Group and other advocates who helped shape this transformative legislation. Tremendous credit also belongs to the staff at DoITT and agencies across the City working daily to implement this landmark law.”

Also helping DoITT implement Local Law 11 of 2012 is Michael Flowers, the City’s first-ever Chief Analytics and Open Platform Officer. As announced by Mayor Bloomberg in his 2013 State of City Address, Michael and his team at City Hall will launch a new platform to improve the way City agencies share information – and to make as much of that data as possible public.

“The City has taken great strides in making data sharing between City agencies a reality,” said Chief Analytics and Open Platform Officer Flowers. “The City is now using data and analysis in unprecedented ways to develop policy, drive operations, and improve service provision to New Yorkers. Unlocking City data for the public will allow developers, entrepreneurs, and academics to enhance these efforts; more importantly, anyone can utilize their skills and creativity to put this data to work to further improve the quality of life and strengthen New York City as a hub of innovation. I applaud Mayor Bloomberg and CIIO Merchant for enacting the nation’s most progressive open data legislation.”

“Last year the City Council passed, and Mayor Bloomberg signed into law, a groundbreaking open data policy for New York City,” said City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “The idea was that data generated by the government should be available to the people it governs to the greatest extent possible – without license or registration – in an online format that permits access and analysis while promoting transparency and accountability. The information freed by this law will allow the Council, advocates, research institutions and the public to analyze and interpret agency data, discover trends, reach conclusions and suggest new policies for years to come.”

“This is great day for New York City government and a great day for transparency across the country,” said Council Member Gale A. Brewer. “With this milestone, we are putting an end to the days of city agencies posting information in confusing PDFs that cannot be searched or manipulated. By opening up troves of data to the public in its raw form, we are giving technologists, good government advocates, and the public unprecedented access to New York City’s municipal data.”

In addition to the work of the New York City Council, key to crafting Local Law 11 of 2012 was input from the New York City Transparency Working Group (nycTWG), a consortium of local organizations that supports efforts to use information technology to make New York City government more open and accountable and to get the greatest public value from the City’s wealth of digital information.

“Freedom of information is basic to any successful democracy,” said John Kaehny, nycTWG co-chair and Executive Director of Reinvent Albany. “Data is simply information in a digital form. ‘Open data’ is the way information is freed for broad public use. Today marks a big step towards a new era in which it's understood that while government is the steward of the information it collects, the public is the rightful owner.”

“Making it easier for the public to access City government databases will make our local agencies more effective and responsive," said Gene Russianoff, nycTWG co-chair and senior attorney for the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Since the signing of Local Law 11 last March, DoITT has worked with agencies citywide to add more than 350 new data sets to the public inventory available on NYC OpenData, as well as securing regular feeds for updates to existing data sets. In addition to application programming interfaces (APIs) for direct connectivity to data feeds, the NYC OpenData portal offers enhanced browsing and search capabilities allowing users to search by full data set – or by datum within data sets; visualization tools such as maps, charts, and graphs; and discussion forums for user feedback and suggestions. Regular refreshes of data sets are made through the portal, with metadata informing users how often particular data sets will be updated.

Data Set Highlights

Among the more than 1,000 data sets now available on NYC Open Data, some highlights include:

MMR & PMMR Indicators – In February 2013, the City issued the annual Preliminary Mayor’s Management Report with a new interactive interface powered by NYC OpenData. The new site, containing more than 23,000 indicators, is supported by the now publicly-available raw data, allowing anyone to develop their own analyses and visualizations of the City’s performance. In addition, a 10-year view of more than 1,200 Mayor’s Management Report indicators has now been published for the first time, providing deep insight into long-term City agency performance trends.

Building Information – In early 2012, the Department of Buildings began publishing three key data sets on the NYC OpenData portal: Building Complaints, Building Permits, and Building Jobs. These data sets, updated on a daily basis, are a step forward in enabling the real estate and construction industries to access City data in bulk and from one place.

Emergency Information – While NYC and the surrounding areas were preparing for the approach of Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012, NYC OpenData released updated evacuation zone information and evacuation center locations. Many media outlets leveraged this data to help get vital information into the hands of New Yorkers.

Historical New York City Crime Data – Raw data for the past 12 years (2000-2011) are available for the seven major felonies, non-seven major felony crimes, misdemeanors, and violations.

Public Pay Telephone Information – In support of the Reinvent Payphones Design Challenge, DoITT released details of every payphone across the five boroughs, along with usage metrics for the payphone installations offering free public Wi-Fi.

TLC Licensed Drivers – In September 2012, the Taxi and Limousine Commission began publishing the list of drivers permitted to drive the city’s 13,000 yellow taxicabs. The list, automatically updated on a daily basis, is used by taxi companies to validate whether drivers are approved for work. In addition, NYC OpenData stores historical information (from September 2012 on) so that drivers and taxi companies can determine a driver’s validity on a specific day to help resolve summonses, etc.

Today’s milestone marks the second pursuant to Local Law 11, the first being publication in September 2012 of New York City’s Open Data Policy and Technical Standards Manual. The manual outlines how City agencies should gather, structure, and automate their data for compliance with the legislation. To ensure the process of developing this manual was collaborative – in keeping with the spirit of Local Law 11 – DoITT engaged both the civic tech community and City agencies in creating the document. The agency also partnered with NYC Facets, the grand prize winners of the more recent NYC BigApps contest, to launch a wiki empowering anyone to amend or comment on the document as it was in development. Using this interactive site, the public and City agencies worked together to openly draft the manual.

The next milestone pursuant to Local Law 11 arrives in September 2013 when DoITT, with assistance from City agencies, will publish an open data compliance plan categorizing all public data sets held by the City and outlining plans to make them available on NYC OpenData by December 31, 2018. Beginning July 15, 2014, DoITT will publish annual updates to the open data compliance plan, detailing the City’s progress in opening public data sets since its last report.

Contact: Nick Sbordone / Lara Torvi

(DoITT) (212) 788-6602