NYC announced that it too is holding a competition to build applications using (to-be-released) city data. We’re thinking of entering our own app. You can see some of the ideas that are floating around here.
As of yet, it is unclear what criteria will be used to judge the applications, but we decided to go ahead and hold a brainstorm session anyway with a handful of people “in-the-know” about city agencies and who make use of city data in their day-to-day work.
Here are the notes from our meet-up.
1. Most Persistent Theme: “My Neighborhood”
- What do people actually think of as “in their neighborhood?”
- What services do they use in their neighborhood?
- What’s lacking in their neighborhood?
- What’s aggravating people in their neighborhood? (Complaints, violations, crime.)
2. “Real-time” experience of data is cool.
- What’s around me right now?
- How are my tax dollars being spent, right here?
- Optimize my biking / subway route given conditions right now.
3. Maps are cool.
4. Crossing data sets is cool.
- ER wait times with crime blotter?
- Local immunization with school attendance records?
- Congestion maps with air quality monitors?
5. Design the application around the assumption that the city data is going to be incomplete; and use that as an opportunity to invite individuals to contribute data to help fill in the gaps.
WE ALSO CAME UP SOME GREAT QUESTIONS TO ASK OF THE CITY.
1. Will there be a “guide” of sorts for what data is available? What data has already been released? What data hasn’t been released, but could be released? (For the competition, will there be a point person for answering questions related to releasing data?) What data is most up-to-date and complete?
2. What are the boundaries for what data is and isn’t available? What about data that crosses city boundaries? e.g. MTA data (MTA). Hospital data (NY State).
3. How “raw” will the data be? (Unprocessed database files? Summary reports?)
4. What are the city’s privacy standards for releasing data?
- How will you ensure that individual identities won’t be revealed, even if city data is cross-referenced with other data sets.
- Many public records include individual identities and addresses. In a world where collating public records about any given individual across city agencies and the public domain was time-consuming and difficult, this was not a privacy issue. However, given the ease with which such a task is done today, how will the city protect individuals from having “complete” profiles of their lives assembled and made available online for public scrutiny?
We have submitted our questions to NYCDataRFEI@nycedc.com, but got a “server rejected your message” error email in response. We called and left a message but haven’t heard back. Answers, which were promised for Friday Jul 24th, have yet to be posted to their website.
We have also decided to take the idea of “Subscribe to updates about the services I use in my neighborhood” and push it to the next level of design to see what road blocks we run into. It will also help us zero in on what data to request of the city in September. We still don’t know what we’ll actually end up submitting to the competition, but either way, we will learn much by pushing one idea to the next stage of development, even if we end up having to go back to the drawing board.
Tags: NYC Big Apps