NYC OpenData takes the public data created by NYC agencies and organizations and makes it available for public use in an open repository. There are close to 1300 data sets available on the NYC open data portal from almost 60 different city agencies. The collection is organized by category as well as by agency or organization, and each set includes descriptions, any collection methods used, and other contextual information to make the data easier to use and understand. Recent data sets—many of which are highlighted on the NYC OpenData tumblr—include directories of play and park areas, population projections, quality of life conditions, and WiFi hotspot locations. Anyone can use any of the data sets for research and analysis, or to create new applications.
Developers have already used the data sets to create a range of apps and data visualizations. Some are mostly fun—like the interactive visualization of NYC street trees or a guide to catching your own Manhattenhenge—while other applications, like the predictive model to help target fire inspections based on risk factors, are solving real world problems.
Developers and researchers can also leverage the incredible amount of education data available through the NYC portal, which include test results, attendance, enrollment, graduation outcomes, art in school buildings, and the availability of after school programs. There are over 200 data sets in the education category, and there are many more in potentially related categories like environment, health, safety, recreation, and social services.
In 2012, the City Council approved a local law that requires all city agencies to open up their data sets by 2018. Though privacy issues mean that not all data is eligible to become open data, the city is trying to make the process of reviewing documents for inclusion into NYC OpenData as transparent as possible. Currently, all of the data sets are available in machine-readable formats, and they are automatically refreshed whenever new data is available, making it easy for researchers, developers, and entrepreneurs to freely access the most up-to-date information.