An Open Government Tree Grows in NY Governor’s Office

Yesterday, NY Governor Cuomo announced that OPEN NY is going to be a part of his government! 

The Open NY meetup isn’t going to become a state agency, but our ideas and advocacy are going to become OUR STATE’S initiative to promote transparency, improvement government performance, and increase avenues of digital participation.

How did this happen? 

In the middle of 2010, representatives from Reinvent Albany reached out to Open NY Forum looking for pioneering civic technology and open government leaders. After two months of back and forth, we presented the prospective governor with a thick policy brief. Ripe with ideas from cities and other governments across America, we got the prospective Governor Cuomo to mention an “Open NY” project in his “reinventing Albany papers.” Together, Reinvent Albany and Open NY, had hoped something would be implemented within the first 90 days of the new Cuomo administration. 

Those days turned into months. Months turned into a year. A year turned into two. All along the way, we met with State technology leaders urging them to adopt our policy ideas, and to continue to have New York lead the nation in progressive government. 

Yesterday, we finally got what we worked so hard toward. 

Now, the challenging part begins. We need to ensure this seed grows in to a strong vibrant trunk.

If you want to ensure that NY has the best open government implementation, join us and become a member of the Open NY Forum and help us make a better New York.

From page 201, in NY Govenor’s State Of the State Briefing. (PDF Link)

Create OPEN NY: Using Technology to Promote Transparency, Improve Government Performance, and Enhance Citizen Engagement

Open New York, a coordinated, technology-based initiative, will harness this potential to use technology to increase government efficiency, performance and collaboration as we enter a new era of public participation in government. Our state government possesses vast treasure troves of valuable information and reports: from health, business and public safety data to information on parks, recreation, labor, and transportation. Too often, this information is in government file cabinets, or in documents that aren’t electronically searchable, or scattered throughout state agencies and their websites.

Open New York will provide easy, single-stop access to statewide and agency-level data, reports, statistics, compilations and information. Data will be presented in a common, downloadable, easy-to-access format, and will be searchable and mappable. The Open New York web portal will allow researchers, citizens, business and the media direct access to high-value data, which will be continually added to and expanded, so these groups can use the data to innovate for the benefit of all New Yorkers. “App competitions” will enlist the collective genius of our state’s students and tech community by asking them to develop practical uses for state data. Budget data, which is already posted online, will be posted in machine readable and graphical formats, making access easier and more impactful for citizens and researchers alike. Through Open New York, technology will bring government and the people together to build a New New York.

Open New York will reap substantial benefits, both through cost savings and improvements in government accountability and collaboration. Providing detailed spending and budget information allows government employees and the public to locate inefficiencies and duplicate expenses. Putting government data online also reduces the expenses associated with producing paper documents in response to Freedom of Information Law (“FOIL”) requests. Benefits come not only from direct use of the data, but also from the return on investment that comes when private citizens and journalists use data to generate useful apps and to evaluate government performance. Quick and efficient data access can also be useful in disaster response and preparation. The benefits of increased online transparency significantly outweigh the costs of putting information online.

New Yorkers want to know their government is investing taxpayer money efficiently in programs and services that are performing for all New Yorkers. It is government’s responsibility to provide information to the people it serves through affirmative disclosures. This initiative will build the trust between state government and New Yorkers. Transparency can be driven through technical solutions that the State is committed to deploying with the resources available through the Internet. Above all, Open New York will put a powerful tool for transparency, accountability, and innovation in the hands of New Yorkers and people all around the world through a centralized user-friendly interface.

Join the Open NY Forum on Meetup or on Twitter.

The real Jesus had dirt underneath his fingernails and calluses on his hands. He probably smelled badly from sweating profusely in the Judean sun on his long hikes to Jerusalem, and Jesus was, without a doubt, rumored to be a hypocrite or absolutely mad for all the time he spent with prostitutes and those afflicted with leprosy.

With the new app, those who want to submit a tip can also send in a picture. That’s nothing new. Police have received scores of pictures among the 2,100 text tips it has received to 274637 (crimes). The quality of the tips and pictures vary, depending on the smartphone used to take them, but the NYPD says it solved a rape thanks to a text message.

Noel Hidalgo: Why I’m Coding for America and New York

We are living on the horizon of a bright tomorrow. Transparency, efficiency, and participation are echoing through the halls of government and in the streets of New York. In 2009, when a small group of organizers and technologists walked through the doors of the State House, we etched these words into the walls. Four years later, transparency, efficiency, and participation have been etched across the world as the mantra of public / private collaboration.

In my childhood, service and adventure filled my dreams. Both sides of my Grandparents dedicated their lives to their families and community. My maternal grandparents were educators. My paternal grandfather was a warrior & my paternal grandmother was a caretaker. I grew up the son of two US Air Force officers. They intermingled their stories with optimism and adventure. Their inspiration and support gave me the fertile grounds to achieve the rank of Eagle Scout and dedicate my High School career to community service.

After several years attempting to make a buck in the roaring 1990s, I found myself under 25, and unemployed for the second time. In 2003, I saw our nation slip into two wars and further into a an unsustainable economy. It was then that I said enough was enough, and I volunteered for John Kerry’s Presidential campaign. On 1 Aug 2004, I moved to NYC and vowed to make a better city. In my NYC first year, I discovered a budding vine of code named Drupal. This vine, was fresh, global, idealistic, and fertilized with civic roots. It wrapped every one of my digital ideals into one easily deployed software package.

Through the communities that supported drupal, I discovered a peer network rooted in openness, freedom, civics, & do it ourselves. This led me to start NYC’s Drupal User Group, organize a series of unconferences, pull together NYC’s first Coworking location, circumnavigate the world while exploring the other end of the internet, drive a NYC Taxi Cab, help organize Twitter VoteReport (a precursor to Foursquare with election protection tools), organize NYC’s open government community, reinvent public information portals at, and help pass the most progressive open data legislation any U.S. city has ever seen, aka NYC Local Law 11 of 2012.

Now, I join Code for America as the NYC Program Manager. Headquartered at Blue Ridge Foundations’ Cobble Hill, Brooklyn office, I get to be with some of NYC’s brightest civic innovators – DataKindTurboVoteWomensLaw.orgControlShift, and iMentor.

What does this mean for New York?

In 2013, we will root our civic technology community in sustainable soil. For in 2014, a new municipal administration will take over the Mayor’s Office, the Council’s Speaker’s chair, the Public Advocate’s gavel, and the Comptroller’s calculator. For our city to bridge into the next administration, we must have strong roots.

Luckily, New York City’s civic technology & open government community does not grow alone. Thanks to a lattice of experienced brothers and sisters, New York State and City is blessed with a suite of forward thinking transparency and open government laws, statutes, policies, and programs.

Our next 12 months are an unprecedented opportunity to innovate. Over the next 12 months, we must actively engage NYC’s administration, and maximize our opportunity with one of the most creative municipal governments this Nation has ever seen.

Together, we will explore the City’s data sets and generate new insights.
Together, we will build efficient ways for us to report our issues to the City.
Together, we will engage in mutual aid and never forget that through unity we are the strongest.

If you are ready to stand with the hundreds of fellow New Yorkers who have already committed to coding for New York, I ask you to make a resolution and join us…

1. Join Open NY Forum, this forum will be used for CfA Brigade related announcements.
2. Schedule a meeting with me and discuss your civic technology issues, problems, or opportunities via oHours.
3. Or contact me at or @noneck on twitter.

there is a conflicting process at work; as North Brooklyn is planned now, over the next decade, the actual amount of mixed-use commercial space will dramatically decrease. As the demand for above street level non-retail commercial space goes up, new development in our area will be predominantly residential without any mixed-use space for the new creative economy. And instead of continuing to develop as a vibrant cultural and economic engine, the new North Brooklyn will effectively become an inner ring suburb [and be economically consumptive rather than generative].

The film has strange insights into the future. If you look at the people running around looking at their little monitors in front of them all the time, that’s what you see in the streets today everywhere – that sort of addiction to the computer image. You’ll find that in many young people today. It’s a real disease. And the main technology in the film – to make a blind person see, or to extract images from the brain of a person – that’s what scientists do. It’s the very same technology today, in 2011. I’ve had several scientific reports of the first images drawn out of a person’s brain, strictly represented by brainwaves. And they gave imagery that looked exactly like what we’d done in the film. So it’s funny how science fiction eventually becomes reality.