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Times Square sees more than 350,000 pedestrian visits per day — that's only one fact that comes from NYC data. Photo: Sam Valadi / Flickr Creative Commons

Did you know New York City has more than 170,000 active licensed taxi drivers, more than the population of Chattanooga, Tenn.?

 

Or that more than 350,000 people walk through Times Square every day?

 

These are just some of the facts that come from the city’s public databases, and Mayor Bill de Blasio wants New Yorkers to know even more.

 

NYC Open Data week launches on Saturday, marking the start of a seven-day long data extravaganza meant to help raise awareness of the city’s public data offerings.

 

“The NYC Open Data portal is a powerful tool that ensures transparency and fosters civic innovation within our City to help improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers,” said Samir Saini, commissioner of the city’s Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, in a statement.

 

“We are dedicated to putting this power into the hands of all New Yorkers,” he added, “so they can better understand how their city works through the information it produces. Making data more accessible to all is a key part of our overall efforts to make the city more transparent and equitable.”

Throughout Open Data week, New Yorkers will be able to attend more than 30 events, exhibits, panels and workshops to learn about how residents here are using data in a multitude of ways.

City information has informed an art exhibit, a new tool to identify affordable housing risks and plenty of startups and small businesses, officials say. 

“Allowing New York's innovators access to the wealth of data collected by NYC agencies creates opportunities for startups, large companies, and technologists everywhere,” said Julie Samuels, executive director of Tech:NYC, in a statement. “It gives our entrepreneurs the chance to not only solve public-facing problems, but also the tools to build businesses that matter.”

The city passed the Open Data Law in 2012 and has added databases to the Open Data portal each year.

Officials want New Yorkers to interact with all this information even more though, and this coming week marks the second such seven-day open data-focused event.

Highlights include the “Data through Design” art exhibit at Dumbo’s Made in NY Media Center, which will show how eight artists tell the “stories that emerge from public data,” and the “Open Data L-Train Innovation Challenge,” which will call on designers, engineers and anyone else who thinks they can help fix some of the problems around the troubled L-train shutdown.

Most Open Data Week events are free and open to the public; find more information at open-data.nyc.