Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics codified in NYC Charter

The passage of Local Law 222 of 2018 codifies advanced analytics, open data, and responsible data sharing into the New York City Charter as the City and BetaNYC call for Open Data Week 2019 submissions.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 21, 2018

NEW YORK— The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA) was permanently codified in the New York City Charter with the passing of Local Law 222 of 2018. Local Law 222 of 2018 establishes seven charter mandates for MODA, reflecting the office’s responsibilities for data analytics and data sharing. Originally founded by Executive Order in 2013, MODA’s codification in the City Charter will ensure continued future support for City agencies to make better use of their data.

“The Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics has helped this administration make smarter, data-driven decisions while making information more accessible than ever,” said Mayor de Blasio. “Now, we will ensure that the effective, responsible use of data remains a fundamental part of how New York City operates.”

“With a new Chief Analytics Officer in place and now codification into the New York City Charter, it’s an exciting time for the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics,” said Jeff Thamkittikasem, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Operations. “MODA’s work in data analytics, civic engagement, and transparency drives fairness and equity for all New Yorkers, and makes our City a leader in open government.”

“It's a rare honor to have your office codified into law. MODA has been unwavering in our mission to help New Yorkers responsibly unlock the power of open data, and to support dedicated public servants -- policy makers to the frontline -- make more informed data-driven decisions. I thank MODA's talented past and current team of data scientists and technologists for answering the call to service and for their tremendous work over the past five years. With Local Law 222, MODA will steadfastly build on our progress toward a fairer, more equitable City for many years to come,” said Kelly Jin, Chief Analytics Officer and Director of the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics.

Part of the Mayor’s Office of Operations, MODA helps agencies apply strategic analytical thinking to data to deliver City services more equitably and effectively, and to increase transparency. MODA closely partners with the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) to manage the City’s Open Data program, which contains more than 2,000 publicly available datasets and has more than 30,000 weekly users. The office also works to achieve Open Data for All, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision to increase New Yorkers’ engagement with City data.

The codification formalizes MODA’s relationship with DoITT, the Mayor’s Office of Operations, the Mayor’s Office of Information Privacy, and the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity in facilitating responsible data sharing between city agencies and advising on data integration strategy and use cases. New York City is a national leader in digital government and open government, and has been a first mover on open data, privacy protections, and oversight on automated decisions systems at the local level.

“This is a critical step towards the future of NYC data. I look forward to our continued partnership with MODA to expand data sharing initiatives and maximize New Yorkers engagement with City data,” said Samir Saini, Commissioner of the Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications.

“MODA’s pioneering work is one of the reasons why New York City is a recognized leader in using data and evidence for policymaking,” said Matthew Klein, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. “Codifying MODA within the charter shows that New York City recognizes the value that data analytics can bring to City operations and ultimately to residents.”

“As the Chief Privacy Officer, I partner with MODA regularly on data-related projects that advance important work throughout the City while also protecting New Yorkers’ privacy,” said Laura Negrón, Chief Privacy Officer for New York City and General Counsel for the Mayor’s Office of Operations. “I’m excited that MODA is now codified in the New York City Charter, and look forward to continuing our work together.”

Local Law 222 (previously Introduction 1137-A) also requires MODA to develop and implement an open data public education strategy. Since announcing the administration’s commitment to Open Data for All in 2015, MODA has worked with the civic tech community to bring City data to all New Yorkers, not just the data-savvy. In September, MODA and DoITT released NYC Data at Work, which detailed the City’s work to teach New Yorkers about the City through data through promotional campaigns and public events, and included over 200 unique commitments by agencies to engage their communities with open data.

Earlier this month, MODA launched a call for organizers for next year’s third annual Open Data Week, which is co-hosted by the NYC Open Data team and BetaNYC. Open Data Week 2018 brought together 1,800 New Yorkers to more than 30 events across New York City in celebration of NYC Open Data. Proposals for Open Data Week 2019, which will take place March 2-8, 2019, are due January 4. Past events have included panels, workshops, demos, art installations, and tours.

“Having reliable data is vital to offer and deliver more efficient services to New Yorkers. I’m glad the role of data analytics in our government is being recognized with MODA being codified into our City’s Charter. Public access to data ensures a more transparent government, and I look forward to the role MODA will play to reach a more equitable New York,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

“It’s become essential, not optional, for city government to leverage modern data analytics to identify and solve problems, improve public policy, and get New Yorkers the most bang for their government bucks,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “MODA’s professionals have helped the Department of Education maximize our federal school lunch funding and have helped the Human Rights Commission identify housing discrimination. The model works, and it was time to make it permanent.”

“The codification of MODA under my bill, Introduction 1137-A, is vital for the City of New York,” said Council Member Adrienne Adams. “MODA is New York City's civic intelligence center, allowing the City to aggregate and analyze data from across City agencies to more effectively address public safety, quality of life issues, deliver services more efficiently and increase transparency throughout the systems. I am proud that we have ensured the survival of MODA for successive mayoral administrations”

Council Member Peter Koo, Chair of the Committee on Technology, stated, “Codifying the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics into the Charter sends a strong message that New York City recognizes the importance of an open, safe and responsible online future. Thank you to MODA for its tremendous work on behalf of the City of New York, and I look forward to working together so that we may fully realize the potential of technology in the Big Apple.”

“Introduction 1137 makes it official, it ensures that MODA, which was founded by executive order in 2013, cannot be gotten rid of by any future misguided Mayoral administration,” said Council Member Ben Kallos. “MODA's mission is more important now than ever before as the world becomes more data-driven. Whether it is strategically prioritizing risk or measuring delivery of services MODA has the information and now we know this office will be around for good. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio for seeing the value in the office and letting it fulfill its mission of bringing transparency to data.”

Under Mayor de Blasio’s leadership, MODA has helped make government operations and services more effective and equitable, from maximizing enrollment in the rollout of UPK, to keeping tenants in their rent-stabilized apartments. Highlights of MODA’s analytics work in the de Blasio administration include:
●        Universal Pre-Kindergarten rollout: In 2014, MODA partnered with the Pre-Kindergarten for All team to assist with analysis for enrollment, targeting outreach efforts using City and industry data. With MODA’s assistance, New York City was successful in launching the program. On November 12, 2014 the Mayor announced that the City had succeeded in enrolling a total of 53,230 pre-K students for the 2014-2015 school year.

●        Protecting Affordable Apartments with Analytics: In 2015, MODA provided analytics support to the NYC Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, helping to prioritize where inspectors searched for landlords creating unsafe living conditions in order to remove tenants from rent-regulated units. In 2016, MODA partnered with the Commission on Human Rights to prioritize where “testers” search for landlords illegally discriminating against potential tenants using public assistance. Write-ups of these and other MODA data science projects, including data used and source code where applicable, are available on the MODA Project Library.

●        Emergency Data Drills: After successfully assisting the City in identifying all cooling towers for inspection following a 2015 outbreak of Legionnaire Disease, MODA partnered in 2016 with New York City Emergency Management to run “Data Drills,” exercises modeled after operational drills and emergency table-tops to better prepare the City’s data and analytics personnel to share information during emergencies. The drills, organized as analytical “sprints” to test tools and processes, have been replicated in other New York City agencies and other cities.
●        NYC Analytics Exchange (AnEx): In December 2017, MODA launched AnEx, a community of practice for data analytics. The 300+ member community has hosted five events on common City data systems and analytics projects, and has collaborated on shared issues facing data analysts across the City.

“Since the passage of the City's open data law, BetaNYC has advocated for as many digital government tools to support the law. For the past six years we have worked with the Administration and Council to ensure that the law is adequately resourced and supported. We fundamentally believe that open data is a partnership between the City and its people. With the passage of Local Law 222, we are excited to see one more tool. We are thankful for the City Council's and the Administration's willingness to make open data and the future of citywide analytics an iterative process. Additionally, we are honored to co-host the third annual NYC open data week and kick off the week with NYC School of Data on International Open Data Day. We hope you submit your ideas and join us for the party. Together, we can make government work for the people, by the people, for the digital age,” said Noel Hidalgo, Executive Director of BetaNYC.

“Codifying MODA in the Charter is a welcome indication New York City is continuing to integrate Open Data and data analytics more deeply into government operations," said John Kaehny, Executive Director at Reinvent Albany. “MODA will officially become a permanent office to improve agency performance and government transparency not only for this mayoralty, but for subsequent Administrations to come.”  

About the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA)

MODA is New York City's center for advanced analytics and data sharing. MODA helps agencies apply strategic analytical thinking to data to deliver City services more equitably and effectively, and to increase operational transparency. Its team of data scientists partner with agency subject matter experts to transform City data into actionable insights, bringing expert knowledge in statistics, math, and programing and uses open source tools to help solve operational problems.

MODA partners with DoITT to manage the NYC Open Data program, which has over 2,000 publicly available datasets used each week by 30,000 students, researchers, entrepreneurs, non-profits, and others. To achieve Open Data for All, MODA and DoITT have increased awareness of City data through marketing campaigns and regular events, including the annual Open Data Week in early March. They have also improved the usability of public data through a new user-friendly Open Data website, data dictionaries for 90% of all datasets, and the development of a best-in-class metadata standard. Learn more