More than 20 million children ride the bus to school, and most of those buses run on diesel. Diesel exhaust is a carcinogen with links to asthma, cognitive development impacts and other health issues. Children from low-income communities and communities of color are disproportionately subjected to this harmful air pollution. For these reasons, the World Resources Institute’s Electric School Bus Initiative set out to help electrify all U.S. school buses.

We soon discovered a major data gap: there was no publicly available, nationwide dataset of school districts’ bus fleets. This data is needed to determine which school districts have the oldest, most polluting buses, enabling clean school bus funding programs to target districts with the greatest need. It can also help communities and advocates target their campaigns to create the most impact, and help utilities plan the grid upgrades needed to electrify transportation.

To fill this data gap, we spent nine months submitting public records requests (FOIAs) to government agencies in every state and compiled a first-of-its-kind dataset containing almost 480,000 buses owned by over 12,000 school districts and other entities in 46 states and the District of Columbia. The dataset includes approximately 30 variables that describe the buses and their owners, such as the model year and fuel type. (

This presentation will offer lessons learned from our experience navigating the states’ public records request process: How can government agencies make this data more useful and accessible? How can people more effectively seek out similar datasets from government agencies? It will also include a case study of findings on NYC’s school bus fleet. How does it stack up against other New York state school districts and other major cities? What are the environmental and health benefits and harms of the current NYC school bus fleet, and what could be improved? Participants will be invited to brainstorm uses and research questions that this dataset could address.

There are evident inequities in how public space is distributed, restricted, used, and made unusable, and how this results in clear disparities in public health, mobility, and environmental justice for New Yorkers, across all New York neighborhoods. Spatial Equity NYC, a new tool developed by Transportation Alternatives and MIT, reveals these inequities through the visualization of open-access spatial data, providing policymakers and the public with critical access to knowledge in advocating for and implementing necessary change.

The Spatial Equity NYC tool visualizes this key data by mobility, environment, and health categories, and indicates where spatial inequities are most prevalent. Users can compare their neighborhoods and see how community boards and council districts rank amongst each other. The tool also presents potential solutions related to spatial equity indicators and invites users to interface directly with their elected officials in advocating for more equitable solutions. Spatial Equity NYC tells a story of public space, and how we can all work toward a more equitable city for all New Yorkers.

This demonstration will explain why such a tool was so necessary, how it came about, why relying on NYC’s Open Data was so integral to not just building it, but building trust in the analysis, and how it will and already has shaped advocacy.  As part of this event, we’ll also discuss limitations in the source Open Data in both frequency and level of detail, and how changes here might further improve the Spatial Equity NYC tool. Additionally, there will be a live demo of the website showing attendees how to use the tool, all the different features, and explain what changes are expected next.

Learn how to access and navigate epidemiological, environmental, and COVID-specific data offered by the NYC Health Department from staff who work on these shared data resources! Use these resources alone or in combination to inform policy to promote health equity across NYC.

Resources covered will include:

Close out Open Data Week with us at NYC School of Data!

BetaNYC’s annual civic tech community conference invites New Yorkers to engage with the City’s technology, data and design communities during Open Data Week.

When: Saturday, March 18th
Where: CUNY School of Law
Tickets: Registration is required to attend!
View the Program:

This year we will explore the many worlds of open data in NYC. There will be over 30 panel events, classroom-style discussions, trainings and workshops that cover open data and public interest technology topics like digital services, civic technology, analytics, smart cities, and open government.

You’re invited, whether you’re new to the community or well-acquainted! Spend the day with us improving your data skills, discovering tools and work by other New Yorkers, and making new connections.

NYC School of Data is organized by BetaNYC, with programming support from the NYC Office of Data Analytics and hosted by CUNY School of Law.

All tickets include breakfast, lunch and coffee/beverages. Thank you for contributing to help us cover the costs of producing a large event! Interested in volunteering?  Interested in a scholarship ticket? Need childcare? Work for Government? Read on…

Are you a student or looking for a scholarship or volunteer opportunity? There are a select number of student / scholarship / hardship tickets available. Tickets are $35 and we will prioritize traditionally underserved and underrepresented communities. You must apply by Wednesday, 15 March at 5:00 PM and register on Eventbrite by Thursday, 16 March at 8 AM. < >.

For volunteer opportunities, learn more and apply via this form. If you have any questions, email us at < >.

Childcare: This year, we have contracted Broadway Babysitters for on-site child care. Parents must register their child(ren) before March 9th at 8 PM by selecting the Childcare Ticket. Childcare is free for ticket holders. All ages are accommodated. For your child(ren) to attend, please register to them via eventbrite; select the Childcare Ticket. For other questions, please email us at < >.

Do you work for Government? If you work for government and want to purchase $55 tickets via a check or a purchase order (PO), government ticket opportunities close on Wednesday, 15 March by 5:00 PM. Please fill out this form or email < >.