We have modified Banksy’s ‘Protester’ to show that the stereotypical violent protester is often an undercover cop,” said Keegan Stephan, organizer with Right of Way. “And we have expanded that message to show that the NYPD facilitates many types of violence. Here, we are highlighting their participation in traffic violence. Off-duty cops are driving drunk and killing New Yorkers; undercover cops are riding with motorcycle gangs that speed, ride recklessly, and worse; and on-duty cops almost always declare deadly drivers faultless and instead blame their victims. We need a wholesale shift in the NYPD’s attitude toward violence.

But for many occupiers, the primary reaction yesterday was one of indignation—while painting Occupy Wall Street as a public menace, the NYPD was infiltrating it with a man who is now facing assault charges.
“It’s interesting to think about how much stupid time and money and resources have been wasted surveilling us,” Clark Stoekley, a Newark artist and activist who was active in the early days of the movement says. “We’re nonviolent…Police are the enemy, not the occupiers.”

#betaNYC, a Code for America Brigade: Three wins – a recap on today’s #SafeStreetsMap hearing

#betaNYC, a Code for America Brigade: Three wins – a recap on today’s #SafeStreetsMap hearing

My testimony to NYC’s Council on #SafeStreetsMap Bill

Code for America / BetaNYC testimony for INT NO 1163-2013 at Transportation Committee on 10 October 2013.

Good morning Chairman Vacca and Transportation Committee. It is a great honor to address you and represent New York City’s technology community. Particularly, a rather active group of technologists – the civic technologist.

I am Noel Hidalgo. I work for Code for America, co-founded BetaNYC, and am on the City’s .NYC advisory board.

Code for America envisions a government that works by the people, for the people, in the 21st Century.

BetaNYC is a Code for America brigade in New York City. Additionally, we are members of the New York City Transparency Working Group that got the best Open Data Law passed. Our City’s Open Data law.

Every week, my community gathers around tables and computers to build better interfaces for government. We are comprised of hackers, mappers, and yackers. We have a community programming night – “a hacknight” – at NYU Rudin where we explicitly explore bicycle related data. In general, we take the City’s open data and put it to good use.

With our NYU Rudin event, we are concerned about safe streets for everyone – pedestrians, cyclists, and vehicles. Because of poor, inconsistent, and non-existent crime and crash data creating tools to make safer streets is next to impossible.

As community members, we do not have the data to help citizens make smarter safety choices.

As City Council members, you do not have the data to know what is happening on the streets. Yet, the data exists!

In 2008, Washington DC challenged its civic technologists to start building apps on civic data. In its first year alone, 10 apps were created to build a safer DC. In 2009, NYC implemented BigApps – a program challenging its civic technologists to build apps on civic data. BigApps has gone through four iterations and fostered New York City to be New TECH City. Yet, because of NYC’s poor public safety data, we have not had the opportunity to build tools to make better and safer decisions.

I should point out that Ontodia/Pediacities, a winning BigApps team is here with us.

New York City needs your help. Because of NYC’s poor public safety data, we can not build tools for community boards to have insight into their communities. Because of NYC’s poor public safety data, we can not build tools to have immediate insight into crimes and crashes in your City Council districts.

Two weeks ago, when the Mayor’s office produced its “Open Data Plan,” NYPD did not include raw crime nor crash data. Seattle, Chicago, San Francisco, Baltimore, and our nation’s capital, Washington DC, produce open, detailed, and frequent crime and crash data for developers to integrate into their tools and generate insight.

We call on the council to amend this bill to cover crime AND crash data. Additionally, this bill needs to be amended to move away from legislating a user interface (a map) and focus on the raw and fundamental data. We need crime and crash data geolocated and published in a daily, disaggregated basis. The raw data needs to be openly available and frequently updated.

We need this data to build a city by the people, for the people, and for the 21st Century.

Is the situation really so hopeless? Perhaps. But it’s certainly easier to think so when you preside over a paramilitary police force that frequently receives healthy doses of grant money from the US Department of Homeland Security to implement such surveillance programs. For years the NYPD has been using those resources to do things like infiltrate Muslim communities, employing alarmingly aggressive tactics in an attempt to ensnare average citizens as “terrorist suspects.” More recently, the department has come under fire for its infamous “Stop and Frisk” program, which establishes quotas for officers to search random passersby, and overwhelmingly antagonizes black and hispanic men in low-income neighborhoods.

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.

Here, in the pointless arrest of Ms. Zucker, is a crime that is not even on the books: the staggering waste of spirit, the squandering of public resources, the follies disguised as crime-fighting. About 40,000 people a year — the vast majority of them young black and Latino men — are fed like widgets onto a conveyor belt of arrest, booking and court, after being told to empty their pockets and thus commit the misdemeanor of “open display” of marijuana. Such arrests are a drain on the human economy.