What Would You Like to Get Out of Open NYCDOT Data?

Tomorrow morning, NYCDOT and a group of software developers, including some of my colleagues at OpenPlans, will sit down and discuss how to make information about New York City streets open to the public. The goal is to give developers access to data which they can turn into useful applications, much like how the MTA is opening its data in the hopes of giving riders better access to information about transit service.

DOT already posts several sets of data online, like the locations of bike racks and paving schedules for each borough, but they have a ton of other information at their disposal — too much to release it all willy-nilly. They’re looking for ideas to help them prioritize and want to know what’s at the top of your list.

I realize it may be difficult to answer this question without knowing exactly what DOT has to work with, but part of the exercise, as I understand it, is to figure out the gaps between what DOT’s got and what people want. So, blue sky, what sort of information could you use to help you get the most out of NYC streets?

  • Danny G

    I would like to see the average time between injuries/fatalities for each type of street configuration.

    The goal will be to have data that can be used to say “we can arrange the street like this and expect a fatality approximately every X number of days, or arrange it like this other way and expect it every Y number of days”.

    To determine this would require a sort of “zoning map” for city streets (which may or may not exist), on top of which would be plotted the existing data of injuries/fatalities.

  • ddartley

    Counts of cars/peds/bikes at locations where they’ve counted.

  • I would love to get everything about parking meters. How often are each space occupied on different streets? Maybe a heat map of meters that are always full versus those at the Shoupian threshold of 85%. How much revenue does a street with meters generate?

    Regular info on traffic volumes by mode would be another good one. I’d love to see monthly numbers on the main avenues in Manhattan over the seasons – sounds like new data they would have to collect though in some cases.

    311 calls about street / sidewalk problems…

    It would be good to know what they are starting with and what types of data they collect and then thinking of the mash-ups.

  • I would like to know how many different vehicles are parked on each single block. If the same 40 automobiles are parked on the same block day after day, it would help to build the case for charging for parking permits. After all, if there are 1,000 people who live on the block, but only 40 people parking there, why should the other 960 be subsidizing them?

  • JamesR

    How about vehicular turning movement count data for all intersections for which traffic studies have been done within the last 5 or 10 years? Or vehicle volume data for all streets for which data exists?

    I can think of a ton of different venues in which this could be useful. Community boards, for one (yes, a double edged sword, I know).

  • Important would be concise statistics desolving the myths about cars and bikes in this city; the typical stuff spouted by people in community board meetings etc. attempting to obstruct infrastructure improvements.

  • JK

    Two things:
    1. An “Open 311” in which all public 311 complaints and comments relevant to DOT — potholes, broken street lights, missing signs, speeding etc are mapped and searchable on a page on the DOT site. Would include a time slider so you could see the pothole that keeps opening up every two months. This would be a useful tool for DOT and elected officials. Site would tally complaints, comments etc so the public can see if 500 people have complained about speeding or the same hole in the street.

    2. Ability to report all street defects, potholes, holes next to sewer grates, utility lids etc on ONE FORM on DOT’s site. Please get rid of the asinine “Is it a pothole” quiz on the complaint form. It’s the city’s job to fix holes in the street, not the public’s job to be an expert on types of street defects. (This is truly moronic.)

  • Data from DOT studies that were done in-house or commissioned by DOT. Anytime the DOT uses those findings to inform new project proposals, they should make that data available to the public. For example, signal timing data from the West Side Transportation Study. This was apparently they used to inform the 3 ft/sec walking speed for Safe Streets for Seniors pedestrian safety improvements – so this data should be available. (Two attempts at FOILing this data failed to release it.) What about the data about the safety improvements from new projects – like decrease in pedestrian-vehicle conflicts on Broadway as a result of the Greenlight for Midtown project. This can be used to support additional pedestrian and cyclist safety projects in other parts of the city, especially those parts that have yet to receive infrastructure investments.

  • 1. Traffic count results – pedestrian, cyclist, car, truck, bus – as suggested by Dave and Shin-pei.

    2. Crash data, as suggested by Danny.

    3. Parking meter data, as suggested by Glenn.

    4. Historical data (whatever’s available, in scanned PDF) for the buses and trolleys run under contract.

    5. 311 data, aggregated to remove identifying information.

  • eLK

    I would like to know the extent of the topics of information that they have studied and collected information on.

    They do know much more than we can even think of.

  • Speed, traffic volume and crash data, so one could plot the safest route from one point to another.

    And a geographic plot of anti-bike lane complaint letters! 😉

  • Danny G

    And maybe a map of all the curb cuts / driveways, too.

  • Cephas

    Average speed on streets and number of police cruisers within a certain distance that are oblivious.

  • I was at the meeting this morning — most of the conversation was about real-time traffic & transit info, which DOT is particularly interested in making use of, as opposed to the more planning & analysis data that’s been suggested here. They will be putting up an online space, probably a google group, shortly, to continue the conversation online. We are also planning to put up a post w/ notes from the meeting on our Civic Hacker blog.

  • Sam Wong

    The Civic Hacker blog post is here: http://openplans.org/civichacker/2010/07/22/nyc-dot-seeks-developer-feedback/.

    Streetsblog might have another post up soon.

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