How We’re Building a 21st Century New York For Everyone

A Radical New Model of Collaboration for Problem-Solving with Data from the SXSW Cities Summit


Depending on your definition, we’re 10 years into the “open data revolution,” and starting to learn a thing or two about what it takes to solve problems at the community level using publicly available data. We’ve all seen that simply pushing out datasets doesn’t work. Making those datasets user-friendly and putting them on easy-to-use platforms is a step in the right direction…but still isn’t enough to turn accessible data into tangible impacts on people’s lives.

Many city leaders are eager to move beyond the glimmer of open data to pursue a new future for open government initiatives that are more tangibly tied to solving specific problems. But we’re woefully short on concrete proposals for what that looks like in practice.

We took on this topic during Reboot’s panel at the first ever SXSW Cities Summit, featuring Hadassah Damien of the Participatory Budgeting Project, Mary Tobin of the Brownsville Partnership, and Adrienne Schmoeker of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Data and Analytics.

We thoroughly enjoyed leading this vibrant discussion among voices representing government, activists, and civil society, which pointed a way towards a new, ecosystem-oriented model of collaboration. This new model represents an evolutionary shift in thinking, allowing groups that are usually opposed or isolated from one another to come together and solve problems through collective action—using inclusion, empathy, and teamwork.

We’d love to talk with others who have experience or interest in doing this kind of collaborative work to bring together groups along the data-to-impact cycle; to learn more or to share your experience, email us at

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