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Once data is public it can be used by anyone, for any purpose. Here are some recent highlights of work that uses NYC Open Data from a City agency, a NYC-based company, and an advocacy organization. For more inspiration on how this data can be used, or to share your own work, visit the NYC Open Data Project Gallery.

Spatial Equity NYC

Organizations: Transportation Alternatives, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Datasets Used: Motor Vehicle Collisions - CrashesDEP Green InfrastructureCity Bench LocationsBicycle ParkingBus Lanes - Local Streets

Comparing air quality using the Spatial Equity NYC tool

Spatial Equity NYC empowers New Yorkers to visualize inequalities in public space, public health, mobility, and the environment across Community Board and City Council districts. Designed by Transportation Alternatives, a public space and transportation advocacy organization, in collaboration with researchers at MIT, Spatial Equity NYC visually demonstrates the interconnectedness of health outcomes, economic circumstances , and environmental conditions. Spatial Equity NYC combines NYC spatial data on health, mobility, and the environment with socioeconomic and commuter data from the U.S. Census’ American Community Survey. Users can view this data by community on maps and in rankings of each district’s standing on various indicators. The project was spurred into existence by a conversation the team at Transportation Alternatives had with a City Council member whose estimate of the number of households in their district that were car-free was far less than the actual number. From that conversation, the team realized they could help advance spatial equity in NYC by making community-level metrics more accessible and interpretable.

New Yorkers can use this tool to learn how their neighborhood compares to others across a host of metrics, including protected bike lanes, asthma rates, pavement temperatures, noise pollution, park access, and tree canopy, just to name a few. The project’s rankings of Community Boards and Council Districts aims to tap into citizens’ and representatives’ competitive spirit and to arm citizens with information they can use to advocate for their communities. Using the Spatial Equity NYC tool, users can look at side-by-side maps of particular spatial equity and U.S. Census measures, learn how their neighborhood ranks beside a set of policy recommendations, and even learn more about each metric included in the platform. Once empowered with the knowledge of how their neighborhood compares to others, New Yorkers can use the Spatial Equity NYC tool to learn about policy solutions and contact their City Council member.

To learn more about spatial equity in NYC and get involved in this work, read Transportation Alternatives’ spatial equity report card, keep an eye out for even more data layers and detail being added to Spatial Equity NYC soon, and check out Transportation Alternatives’ talk from Open Data Week 2023!

Revel: Business Strategy and Safety Measures

Organization: Revel
Datasets Used: Open SpaceParks PropertiesNYC Street CenterlineTLC Trip Record Data

Revel's view of one of their riders driving the wrong way on Pineapple Street, a one-way street in Brooklyn Heights

Revel, an electric mobility company, uses NYC Open Data for its day-to-day operations and strategic decision-making. Operationally, two of Revel’s uses for NYC Open Data are to automatically detect when users of its electric moped sharing service drive where mopeds aren’t allowed or drive the wrong direction down one-way streets. Strategically, Revel uses NYC Open Data to model taxi and rideshare usage under different conditions. Constructing these models with NYC Open Data allows them to be as accurate as possible in terms where rides are starting, ending, and the time of day they’re occurring. This information about taxi and limousine demand is important because it informs how many drivers Revel should staff, their service areas, and the size of their electric vehicle fleet.

Revel uses NYC Open Data to minimize safety issues involving their mopeds. Using the NYC Open Space and Parks Properties data in tandem with other data on green spaces, Revel defined geographic areas where their electric mopeds aren’t allowed to travel. These “no ride zones,” include NYC parks, cemeteries, playgrounds, and the Queensboro and Manhattan bridges. After each moped ride, Revel automatically checks the route of the moped against the regions within which mopeds aren’t allowed to drive to see whether the moped drove anywhere prohibited. Revel uses this information to issue warnings to riders who drive in prohibited areas. If a rider repeatedly drives a scooter into a “no ride zone,” then that customer may have their scooter access revoked. This effort educates Revel moped riders about where they’re allowed to drive and disincentivizes driving through parks or across bridges.

Similarly, Revel also built an automated detection system to determine when their riders travel the wrong direction down one-way streets. Revel used the NYC Street Centerline dataset to identify and map more than 4,500 one-way streets, and relies on this data layer to check the direction of travel of each moped rider down one-way streets. Similar to riding in “no ride zones,” traveling the wrong way down a street will result in Revel issuing warnings and potentially revoking access to Revel mopeds. Revel found that implementing this system resulted in a __% decrease in mopeds driving the wrong direction down one-way streets.

Strategically, data from the NYC Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) is critical to Revel’s mission. This data provided Revel with critical inputs to the models they created prior to launching their rideshare business in NYC and continues to be used in models for expansions within NYC and to other cities. With these models, Revel can make business decisions, including ones about the size of their fleet of electric vehicles, the size of their service area, and how many drivers they should hire, and uses this data to inform their models.

For more information on Revel’s work using NYC Open Data, check out their Open Data Week 2023 presentation!

NYC Tree Map

Organization: NYC Department of Parks and Recreation
Datasets Used: Forestry Management System2015 Street Tree Census

The NYC Tree Map showcasing a Northern Red Oak located in Brooklyn's Fort Greene Park.

Walking through Fort Greene Park one summer morning, a New Yorker comes across a branch blocking their path on the sidewalk. Opening up the NYC Tree Map on their phone, they zoom into where they’re standing on the sidewalk, select the tree on the map, and submit a “fallen limb” service request. They then learn the tree is a Northern red oak, its diameter is 57 inches, and are able to compare a leaf on the tree to the one pictured in NYC Tree Map. Scrolling a little bit further down in the NYC Tree Map sidebar, they also find out this tree intercepts 8,892 gallons of stormwater each year, removes 7 pounds of air pollutants per year, and conserves 2,766 kWh of energy each year! Back home later that day, they can see via an update to the NYC Tree Map that a Parks Department forester has already inspected the tree. This tree is one of over 860,000 trees the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation has cataloged in its interactive, digital NYC Tree Map.

While the NYC Tree Map can be used to look up a single tree, it can also be used to view neighborhood and city-level statistics. For example, the Northern red oak our New Yorker looked up in their local park is one of 15,915 in NYC, 112 of which were favorited by NYC Tree Map users, and which collectively have ecological benefits to the city estimated at $3,223,614.73 per year! NYC Tree Map users can also look at tree counts by neighborhood, and even sort trees by species and tree trunk diameter. Users can also save their favorite trees and nominate trees as a “Great Tree” as a part of Parks’ Great Tree Search 2023, the second search of its kind.

The first version of the NYC Tree Map was launched in 2016 and began as a large participatory science project that involved volunteers and Parks staff across the city documenting the precise location of trees on NYC streets. Parks worked behind the scenes to connect their internal forest management database with NYC’s 311 system, and then to determine which information within their internal systems would be most interesting and engaging to the public. This past year, they updated NYC Tree Map so that New Yorkers can go to one place to see both trees on streets and within City parks. In addition to being used as a tool for learning and a means for New Yorkers to help care for their city’s trees, the NYC Tree Map can be used by the City to craft policy and make tree management decisions, and by advocacy groups to decide where to increase efforts.

For more information on the NYC Tree Map, check out Parks’ Open Data Week 2023 talk!

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