Three cool ways NYC Parks uses data publicly


Lately I’ve been looking around at what other parks departments do with park data. What do they collect, what is it used for, and how do they share it, if at all, with the public? Here are a few cool things I came across from the New York City Parks Department.

1. Whether you use foursquare or (more likely) not, check out the real-time check-in map for New York’s parks. Each green dot represents someone checked in to a part of a park, with a big green blob flashing up when someone new checks in. I’m not sure how useful this data is considering the highly selective group of people who use foursquare, but it sure is fun to watch.


2. NYC Parks also has a very detailed, public map of not only all its parks, but also all the things you will find in that park. You can zoom in and locate your favourite park monument, or the handball court closest to you, or the accessible entrances. It even has the plaza spaces created along Broadway and other streets. It’s a great planning tool, but also great for the public to just understand the amenities in their park system.


3. The third cool thing is maybe a bit nerdier, if that is even possible. The City’s Parks Inspection Program, which inspects parks for cleanliness and maintenance issues, publishes the results online. Before your eyes glaze over, let me tell you why this is great. It’s great because it allows residents to understand generally how their parks are doing and whether they are improving over time, which is hard to do just on your own walking through the park every so often. What would be really great is if more detailed data was also published on the different elements in the park: pathways, benches, garbage, etc. But this is a good start.

Parks are public spaces and so it’s only fitting that the data that goes along with them is opened up to the public as well.

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