Celebrating Open Data in New York City

Open Data Week 2018 | An Open Project Spotlight

Adrienne Schmoeker (@frecklesforgood) lives and works in New York City as a part of the NYC Open Data Team. Adrienne was selected to join our current round of Mozilla Open Leaders with her project, Open Data Week 2018.

I interviewed Adrienne to learn more about Open Data Week 2018 and how you can help.

What is Open Data Week 2018?


NYC Open Data is a platform run by the City of New York containing nearly 2,000 data assets published by City Agencies — from street tree data, to 311 service requests to traffic speeds — we’re putting information on how the City runs back in the hands of New Yorkers. To raise awareness about this free resource the NYC Open Data Team partnered with the civic technology community to produce Open Data Week 2017 which engaged over 900 New Yorkers! For 2018 we’re making this an open participation process, asking for submissions of ideas for Open Data Week 2018 by December 15th (this Friday!).

How did Open Data Week start?

Open Data Week started with a close partner of ours in the NYC civic tech community, BetaNYC, noticing that we were planning a few events between International Open Data Day and the 5 year anniversary of the Open Data Law as they were just a few days apart. He asked me, “Why not make a week out of it?” and I took that idea and ran with it. With BetaNYC and BureauBlank’s support we produced NYC’s first Open Data Week March 4–11 in 2017. In just a few weeks we had 10 different organizers come together to produce 12 engagements which reached 900 New Yorkers across 3 boroughs.

What challenges have you faced working on this project?

One of the biggest challenges I faced was thinking through how to make Open Data Week planning more open and inclusive. As a part of NYC’s Open Data Program, being open is one of our core values, but we’re still learning how to work in the open, versus merely managing an open government program. I had a narrative in my head that in order to work in the open I had to learn how to use GitHub — and while I did learn to use GitHub as a part of the Mozilla Open Leadership Program, I also learned that GitHub isn’t necessarily always the best tool to work in the open! Google docs, etherpad, in-person events…there are plenty of vehicles to facilitate working in the open! Working in the open is a value and approach, finding the right platform to translate that into reality can take many forms.

How has your project been impacted by Mozilla Open Leaders?

It has been so rewarding to have a community of supporters for this project over the last few months. Learning about others’ projects and getting the support from my awesome mentor Sydney Swaine-Simon and the Mozilla Open Leaders Program has been an invaluable experience. Working in a vacuum is never a good idea, and I thank everyone who has chatted with me about this project for sharing ideas and asking questions — it has only made the project stronger. I’m excited to see how version two of Open Data Week will turn out now that it will have had more brains involved!

The Mozilla Open Leaders Program taught me a number of things that will have an impact beyond Open Data Week — as someone who has ‘civic engagement’ as a part of my title and everyday responsibilities, learning more about tools and techniques for working open will only help me in my role in the months and years to come, for which I am grateful.

How can others help you continue the work on Open Data Week 2018?

Submit an idea to participate as an organizer for Open Data Week 2018! Entries can be sent in through December 15th 2018. Tweets and digital love are welcome as well (#nyc #opendata). Finally — when March 3–10 2018 rolls around, stop by New York City and attend an engagement and let me know what you think!

What meme or gif best represents your project?

Mozilla Open Leaders offers mentorship and training on working open. Join a cohort of project leads fueling the Internet Health movement. Receive mentorship and training through the Mozilla community in this 14-week online program on working open. Apply today!