2015 Open NY Annual Report

TOP 2015 Open NY Annual Report

In March 2013 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed Executive Order 95, laying the foundation for a more open, transparent and innovative state. At the same time, Governor Cuomo introduced Open NY, an award-winning initiative of policies, programs and tools that provide public access to digital data for collaboration and analysis.   

2014 built on the platform’s successful start with unprecedented growth and international recognition. The State’s data offerings have nearly doubled in the past year, with now over 113 million records from more than 1,100 data catalog items via 61 entities available. Thanks to high standards and a strong operating model, the growth was achieved while simultaneously enforcing New York’s high bar for data integrity. As a result, in 2014 New York State was ranked a national leader and received a perfect score of eight out of eight possible points for the quality of its open data policy and portal in a report issued by the Center for Data Innovation, a nonprofit think tank.


In 2014, NY led the nation in the breadth & depth of its technology initiatives across the areas of infrastructure, education, data, service & industry.  All are critical to achieving the type of success that empowers every New Yorker.

Governor Cuomo, 2015 Opportunity Agenda

To encourage the use of data the State also developed and launched original, interactive applications, including the Campus Crime website which provides geolocated statistics on crimes from institutions of higher learning. In addition, New York State participated in six public challenges that leverage public data to encourage the creation of apps that improve quality of life for New Yorkers. And finally, New York State is introducing new functionality to deepen the effectiveness of its open data and open budget portals. The following annual report details these achievements in resource expansion, enhanced functionality, interactive applications and public engagement.

These milestones illustrate how Open NY creates extraordinary opportunities to explore, discover, and apply government data in ways never before possible. We strive to achieve our mission of “Quality by Design” by providing detailed information about our data and demonstrating our commitment to outstanding value and quality.

Through Open NY, the State is advancing a data-driven strategy that promotes transparency and accountability, supports a new level of public collaboration, and fosters innovation, economic development, and scientific research.  We are grateful to our partners across the State, in government, nonprofit and private sector, and look forward to continuing this vital work in the year to come.

A Look Back
A Year of Extraordinary Growth
A Year of Extraordinary Growth

The breadth and depth of data available on data.ny.gov is unprecedented, with data accessible for reuse across ten categories, spanning over 61 government entities, including over 1,100 data catalogue items, and over 113 million records. Highlights among the numerous datasets include:

  • Solar Power. New York’s role as a leader in shaping the future of energy remains firmly in place. Data is available for nearly 17,000 solar projects that have participated in NYS Energy Research and Development Authority’s open enrollment solar incentive programs over the past 11 years, including the large ramp-up of solar under NY-Sun.  View cost and energy savings by zip code, county, or in the aggregate across the state. A map of installation locations is also included.
  • School Immunizations. Access school immunization rates for students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade attending New York State schools.    
  • Orthoimagery. The NYS Orthos Online site is the doorway to convenient access to digital orthoimagery of New York State. Through this application visitors can view and download imagery, as well as learn how to connect to imagery web services. NYS Orthos Online provides access to all years of the NYS high resolution imagery as well as the NAPP imagery, so users will be able to view multiple vintages of imagery around the state. 
  • Registered Tax Preparers and facilitators is a timely and popular resource for those wishing to verify that a tax preparer is registered with the New York State Department of Taxation and Finance pursuant to Tax Law Section 32.
  • Breeding Bird Atlases. For over 30 years the Department of Environmental Conservation has partnered with ornithological volunteers and researchers to maintain one of the earliest and most valuable resources of avian data. Bird Atlases contain data covering both research periods (1980-1985 and 2000-2005).
  • MTA 2015 and 2014 Turnstiles Data provide counts of entries and exits taken multiple times per day from turnstile devices located throughout the Metropolitan Transportation Authority system.
  • Bank Owned ATM dataset provides location data and a map of all bank-owned ATM’s in New York State.
  • Hospital Maternity Information: Beginning 2008 data helps to inform expecting mothers about what to expect when delivering their baby, shares childbirth choices, and assists in planning for the baby's birth.
  • Gasoline Retail Price Weekly Average by Region. This dataset includes the weekly averages of daily retail gasoline prices per gallon of regular grade gasoline for New York State and eight New York metropolitan regions.

In addition, New York State continually updates existing information available through Open NY. Below are some highlights of topical or interesting data:

  • Winter Farmers’ Markets in New York have again reached an all-time high, now with 120 markets located across the state. View locations of farmers’ markets offering consumers plenty of New York-made choices, including potatoes, onions, cabbages, apples, meat and dairy products, honeys, maple syrups, high tunnel greens, carrots, wines and parsnips.
  • Texting Zones. To make roads safer and save lives, Governor Cuomo has increased penalties for texting while driving, particularly for young and new drivers, and has established official “Text Stops” on many of New York’s interstate highways. Find locations along the New York State Thruway and state highways that give motorists a designated pull-off area to park and use their mobile devices.
  • Broadband Availability.  As part of the 2015 Opportunity Agenda, Governor Cuomo plans to build on the largest public investment supporting universal broadband deployment in the country. The NYS ITS GIS Program office has been collecting and mapping data on broadband in New York for over five years.  Find snapshot data about availability of high-speed Internet services, and speed of services currently offered.
  • Food Service Establishment Inspections. Get the latest food service establishment inspection results for restaurants, schools, summer camps, temporary food establishments, and more, filtered by facility, city, and county.
  • SUNY Campuses. STARTUP NY is a g transformative initiative that encourages companies to expand their ventures across New York by offering new businesses the opportunity to operate tax-free and partner with world-class higher education institutions in the SUNY system and beyond. Find SUNY campuses located in all corners of New York State.
  • State Park Annual Attendance Figures by Facility  New York State’s park system has long been recognized as one of the best and most diverse in the nation. Among the 50 states, NYS ranks first in the number of operating facilities and first in the total number of campsites with DEC. The State Park System is one of New York’s greatest treasures, encompassing nearly 335,000 acres. New York’s Parks and Historic Sites provide affordable outdoor recreation and education opportunities to more than 62 million visitors each year. 
Delivering the Data
Delivering the Data


The following websites and portals provide critical access to the majority of New York State’s robust data offerings.

Open Data: Data.NY.Gov

New York State’s Open Data portal provides unprecedented, user-friendly access to freely available machine-readable data, promoting new applications, analysis, and innovation. The public can now view catalogues of data sets and/or download datasets in a multitude of formats that enables greater utilization and maximizes the data’s derivative value.

Health Data: Health.Data.NY.Gov

Health.Data.NY.Gov promotes consumer education through visualizations of data utilizing maps and graphs and supports health research through publishing both aggregate and granular-level data, to improve healthcare for all New Yorkers. Data available via website is also simultaneously available at the main Data.NY.Gov website.

Campus Crime: CampusCrime.NY.Gov

In 2014, underscoring the Governor’s commitment to campus safety, New York State launched the Campus Crime website, a tool for researching college campus crime data. The application leverages Federal open data  to provide information about crime statistics at every reporting postsecondary educational institution within the state, empowering students and guardians to make more informed decisions.

Local Laws: LocalLaws.DOS.NY.Gov

The Department of State’s Division of Corporations, State Records, and Uniform Commercial Code, in partnership with the Office of Information Technology Services, launched a website to make local laws available. All laws passed by local governments are required to be filed with the Secretary of State. This new website enables browsing and searching for these local laws, bringing far greater transparency to local governments while serving as a shared resource amongst them;

Digital Innovation and Civic Participation
Digital Innovation and Civic Participation


In order to encourage wider public engagement with the Open Data portal, New York State participated in six challenges and hackathons over the past year. These competitions fostered the development of web and mobile apps to help New Yorkers. Many participants included open state government data in their entries for the challenges, which are detailed below.

Designed for Citizen Engagement

The new NY.Gov official State website features improved customer service, design, navigation, search and accessibility from virtually any device. The website’s overhaul was the first major redesign in 15 years, and set a new bar for digital government services through its user-centric approach. The new website features streamlined service information, improved search, intuitive navigation, and a modern, vibrant look and feel redesigned to enhance user experience. 

A key part of this experience is enhanced integration with Open NY, including a new, customized section that highlights the Open NY program. In addition, the State has extended its vibrant, new design to Open NY, providing a more seamless, consistent experience, and making it easier for citizens to discover the vast amount of freely accessible and reusable data. The new NY.gov puts information and resources at the fingertips of New Yorkers as never before, reflecting the Governor’s commitment to service, transparency and efficiency.  

Challenges and Hackathons

In order to encourage wider public engagement with the Open Data portal, over the past year New York State participated in six hackathons featuring to foster the development of web and mobile apps for helping New Yorkers. Many participants included open state government data in entries in the challenges, which are detailed below.

  • In May 2014, two winners of the AT&T Rochester Civic App Challenge leveraged data.ny.gov to build their top-ranked applications. Both apps — the Public Market Guide (Monroe County edition), which contains social media, event and venue information on farmers markets around the county,and the Erie Canal app, which provides information on boat launches, locks and other features along the canal — won cash prizes and were cited in the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle, WXXI News, and Innovation Trail, amongst others.
  • The first-ever NYS Health Innovation Challenge set out to create technology-driven solutions that enable consumers, employers, public health experts, communities, and purchasers to explore quality, charges, and cost data for medical procedures provided by NYS inpatient hospital facilities. In October 2014, the first place winner was announced: DocSpot, which developed a variety of innovative ways for users to search, filter, and select providers that fit their own unique requirements. The winning applications can be viewed at the challenge website.
  • In November 2014, in conjunction with HackUpstate, AT&T concluded both the Central New York and Western New York App Challenges.  Each challenge was a two-month virtual hackathon for Western and Central New York's most talented computer scientists, software developers and hardware engineers to build products with the potential to benefit the local community. Several competitors leveraged Open NY to build their mobile apps and websites, including the following:
    • New York Transportation Projects is a smartphone app that highlights construction projects around the state, based upon Department of Transportation data.
    • New York Thruway Guide (a 2nd place winner) is a smartphone app that provides helpful information to Thruway travelers, including alerts, traffic camera feeds, rest area details, food & services near exits, and more. 
    • HealthyPaths used health data to help people make informed choices when selecting a hospital.
    • WNY Family Connection (a grand prize winner) provides access to information and community reviews about schools, childcare facilities, recreation services, and more.
  • In November 2014, IBM and Hadoop launched a nationwide Big Data for Social Good Challenge. Several NYS datasets were among the pre-qualified list of resources that could be used to enter the competition. Participants are encouraged to consider the social impacts of their analytics work, focusing on areas such as smart cities, economic impacts, quality of life, public health, social equality, employment, and more. Winners will be announced in April 2015.
  • In December 2014, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority launched its third App Quest challenge. The MTA, whose riders take 2.69 billion trips each year, offered $50,000 total in prizes to encourage participants to focus on apps that enable and analyze rider feedback, provide real-time maps of transit routes, multi-mode trip planning, and using wireless beacons to aid with in-station navigation.  Winners were announced on March 19, 2015 at a special event in Grand Central Terminal.  Details on the winners are available at the AppQuest Challenge website. They included:

    • YoTrain! Grand Prize ($10,000): Best Accessibility App for MTA Customers with Disabilities
    • NYC Accessible Runner-up Prize ($7,500): Best Accessibility App for Disabled MTA Customers
    • Departures NYC Grand Prize ($7,500): Best Consumer/Transit Rider App
    • TravAlarm Runner-up Prize ($5,000): Best Consumer/Transit Rider App
    • 1-Touch NYC Popular Choice ($5,000)
    • iRideNYC Large Organization Recognition Award
    • Departures NYC Best Way-Finding Application for Novice Transit Riders ($5,000)
    • ReMap Best Data Visualization App ($5,000)
    • TravAlarm Best Crowdsourcing App ($5,000)
    • Navigate Honorable Mention
  • On March 4, 2015, HackUpstate and AT&T launched their fourth civic app challenge centered in the Capital District, but open to most of eastern New York. Competitors are required to focus on challenges relevant to the 19 counties included in the challenge. Submissions must be received by May 1, 2015.


Case Study: Food Service Inspections

The Food Service Establishment Inspections data is not only the most viewed data on Health Data NY; the data is also being cited on a variety of third party websites hosted by new start-ups to established organizations including TV stations, newspapers, radio stations, community blogs, a national restaurant association, and universities. 

Following the passage of an important health transparency law in 2014, all local public health departments in the state display a link on their web site to Health Data NY. NYS Public Health Law, section 1352-d requires the Department of Health to "prominently post on its website all public food service establishment inspection results [...] for the most recent three years for which the data is available" (except for NYC since their data is published through NYC OpenData). DOH selected Health Data NY to serve as that prominent posting. Many of the local departments also set up a view of the state data which makes it easier for their visitors to access locally-relevant data.

Interactive, consumer-friendly applications are being developed with the restaurant inspection data. One example of this is the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle’s tool to find restaurants by county, address, or name. Health Inspection Monitor provides a business-to-business service, focused on providing resources to franchises and large restaurant chains to track, monitor, and respond to issues identified by health inspections. Finally, the National Restaurant Association, an industry association, educates food service professionals about health inspection data through their ServSafe Food Protection Manager Training & Certification manual.


Visualizing Data
Visualizing Data

Visualizations maximize the understanding of data by telling compelling stories, identifying trends, distilling information, and transforming raw data into actionable insights – and does so in ways that words often cannot. The following examples demonstrate the power of depicting data in a visual, and sometimes interactive, way.

New Distillery, Winery and Brewery Licenses (Since 2000)

Karl Newell and Scott Falbo, founders of 716 Labs, created an infographic which highlights how changing government regulations can impact commercial business and lead to job creation.  Since 2000 the number licenses for Distilleries, Wineries, and Breweries in NY has grown as high as 140 in 2014. Their visualization is based upon the Liquor Authority’s Quarterly List of Active Licenses.


Private School Vaccinations Rates in New York City

Ben Wellington is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Pratt Institute in NYC, where he teaches a statistics course that uses open government data for analyses. In a blog post which explores vaccinations in NYC private schools, he highlights that the majority of these schools have 97% or higher vaccination rates. His analysis was done using School Immunication Survey data.



Thruway Cord Wheel

The Thruway Chord-Wheel interactive visualization was created by the Open NY team as an experimental demonstration of how open data might be presented to a broad audience. It enhances the understanding of travel patterns and use of various sections of the New York State Thruway by showing passenger vehicle flow between every interchange on the ticketed thruway system. The team used NYS Thruway Origin and Destination Points data.



New York City Subway Turnstiles Entries and Exits

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is responsible for public transportation in the state of New York serving 12 counties in southeastern New York, along with two counties in southwestern Connecticut, carrying millions of rail passengers each day. Providing better services to customers requires understanding how they move through the system. To help obtain this knowledge, the New York City subway system has more than 4,500 turnstile devices which count passenger entries and exits.

This interactive visualization, created by the Open NY team for demonstration purposes, charts turnstile entry and exit activity on the MTA's Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT), Independent Subway (IND), and Interborough Rapid Transit (IRT) divisions over a three-month period. Activity is depicted by station using heat maps, and over time by date, day of week, and time of day using line and bar charts. The data is drawn from the MTA’s Turnstile Usage Data.




In the News
In the News

New York State has emerged as a trusted and respected leader in the Open Data sector. An impressive year of growth, in 2014, data.ny.gov received national and international recognition for its Quality by Design open data portal.

  • In May 2014, New York State’s open data initiative was highlighted by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) in their report: States and Open Data: From Museum to Marketplace – What’s Next.  In recognizing New York State NASCIO stated: “Governor Cuomo of New York State kicked off an impressive open data initiative in his State of the State address on January 9, 2013 […] The State of New York has published a very comprehensive handbook on open data that should be in the reference library for any open data initiative.”
  • In August 2014, Washington, D.C.-based Center for Data Innovation released State Open Data Policies and Portals, containing an analysis of all 50 States. New York State was recognized as one of the top States for Open Data.  New York State received the maximum number of points in all categories: Policy, Policy Quality, Portal, Portal Quality.
  • In November 2014, the UK Open Data Institute (ODI) sought nominations from around the world for pioneers and champions inspiring the use of open data. New York State’s Quality by Design Open Data portal received international recognition as a finalist for the Data Publisher Award. This award recognized high publishing standards and use of challenging data.
A Look Ahead
A Look Ahead

Open NY will continue to utilize technology to promote transparency, improve government performance, and enhance citizen engagement. Plans for 2015 include the following initiatives:

  • Continue expanding accessibility and building a culture of performance and accountability through technology enhancements and the launch of several new websites:
    • The Division of Budget will launch a powerful, new budget exploration tool on OpenBudget.ny.gov making it easier for visitors to more easily understand the state budget through an interactive, graphical presentation with multiple options for navigation.

    • The Department of State’s Office of Planning & Development’s Ocean and Great Lakes and Climate and Resilience programs will launch a website dedicated to coastal and environmental data. Along with online maps and links to current coastal conditions, this platform will also allow visitors to download a variety of geographic data.

  • Continue maximizing understanding of data, utilization of data, and user experience through enhanced visualizations, and advancing the standardization, quality, and consistency of data in furtherance of interoperability;
  • Develop ecosystems and communities of practice with ongoing and continued expansion of publishable data;
  • Develop integration between the NYS GIS Clearinghouse and the Open Data portal; and
  • Continue engagement, collaboration, and innovation with the developer community.

Open data is tightly woven into the fabric of tools and information we use to make decisions every day, as both government and individual. As Open NY continues to grow and evolve, we are committed to providing an exceptional customer experience and setting a new standard for data access and tools. 

We look forward to continuing our work with New York’s passionate data and technology community to achieve even greater transparency, access and innovation together.