Open Data Week highlights NYC’s Open Data Portal with art, design, squirrels and more

Jen Ray, Jason Forrest, “Find the Secret Data Message, NY Alive.” Photo credit: Data X Design.

New York City loves an opportunity to show off its smarts and find innovative ways technology, art and daily life are intertwined. Data Through Design (DxD), an exhibition happening from March 5 – 13 throughout the five boroughs, is a perfect example. DxD is a central component of the broader NYC Open Data Week, which in turn highlights the city’s Open Data Portal and the many things that can be done with access to data. Design and art events offer visitors a chance to interact with the city through life-sized art pieces. Even the city’s bushy-tailed rodents get involved in the fun.


Jennifer Dalton, “Feel My City Breaking And Everybody Shaking,” Photo credit: Data x Design.

New York City’s Open Data Law mandated that all “public” data be made freely available on a single web portal by the end of 2018. According to the law, a “public data set” is any comprehensive collection of data that is maintained on a computer system by or on behalf of a city agency.

NYC Open Data lets New Yorkers engage with information produced and used by the city’s government. The NYC Open Data Project Gallery shows some examples of how data is used by activists, entrepreneurs, teachers and more.


Jen Ray, Jason Forrest, “Find the Secret Data Message, NY Alive.” Photo credit: Data X Design.

The annual DxD event features works that, “creatively analyze, interpret and interrogate data made available in NYC’s Open Data Portal.” This year’s theme is Ground Truth, which is explained as “the insight we receive from being ‘on the ground,’ collecting or confirming data through direct observation, as opposed to abstract estimates, samples, or reports derived from remote locations.”

Artists are invited to examine their world and note the relationships between experience and the overlay of data and mediated information used to interpret it. The works that result take a closer look at the relationship data has with physical place and human experience. Ground Truth IRL, for example, is a public exhibition of 12 data-driven interdisciplinary art projects open March 5th through 13th in Brooklyn.

DxD is part of NYC Open Data Week, a week-long series of events and workshops organized with assistance from the NYC Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics and BetaNYC and funded in part by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs with additional support from Jacobs Urban Tech Hub at Cornell Tech. The week brings a calendar of community events with the goal of getting more people to learn about and engage with municipal open data.

This year’s events are anchored by School of Data, a one-day community conference that brings together the city’s technology, data, and design communities. You can find a calendar of Data Week events here.


The Squirrel Census crew at work. Photo credit: Scott Lowden

In addition to discussion, art and design, the data-fest has given our favorite Squirrel Census squad a reason to go nuts with their own hard-won data. The Squirrel Census has created a toll-free phone tree stuffed with topical and entertaining squirrel-related info. Call 1-833-NYC-SQRL and hear data from the Census’s tally of eastern grays in 24 New York City parks as well as meditation exercises, stories about notable squirrels, squirrel music (!) and much more.

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Tags :

Data Through Design, DxD, Ground Truth IRL, NYC Open Data, squirrel census

Anita Shire

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