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Bill de Blasio

De Blasio Calls For Vision Zero Apps. How Much Data Will He Release?

BigApps NYC, EDC's four-month competition to develop mobile and web applications using city data, is set to launch tomorrow with a mission from Mayor Bill de Blasio to build tools for Vision Zero. The more data the city opens up to developers, the better these apps will be, so the question now is how far City Hall will go to make crash and enforcement information transparent and accessible.

This morning, de Blasio appointed Anne Roest as commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, and indications are that a Vision Zero data announcement is coming soon. The key aspects to keep an eye on are improvements to datasets that are already public, and which additional datasets will be released.

Currently, the public can track tickets from red light and speed cameras, find out how many moving violations the police issued each month, and get monthly reports from NYPD on where each of the city's reported crashes occurred. But the crash data is released in a difficult format that developers must unscramble before using.

Last week, NYPD told the City Council that it will soon improve the way it releases crash data. Putting the data out through the city's existing open data portal would help, and so would the release of additional traffic safety information. For instance, crash investigations remain sealed from public view. In addition, because there's no way to track moving violations below the precinct level, right now it's hard to know exactly where NYPD is concentrating its enforcement efforts.

The Vision Zero action plan says City Hall will "publish crash and safety data on a regular basis in user-friendly format(s)" and that "NYPD will meet with relevant stakeholders to determine how best to make its data available to the public." And in March, NYPD Chief of Transportation Thomas Chan hinted that the department will release "information [that] might not have been previously available to the public."

In the video, de Blasio challenges BigApps developers to tackle traffic safety. "My big idea is to eliminate traffic fatalities in our city. New York City's families expect and deserve safe streets, and your government will no longer regard traffic crashes as mere accidents," he says. "The tech sector is a crucial part of the city's future, and we're counting on you to help us achieve Vision Zero."

The winning entry will be featured on the NYC.gov homepage and the developers will earn a cash prize and get a personal thank you from the mayor at City Hall.

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