February 2015

Cloud Data Access: A Transnational Perspective

More than ever before, people today rely on cloud computing services for email, online storage and backup, social media, video services, and gaming. However, the laws governing data privacy obligations were written long before anyone dreamed up the cloud. This makes regulatory issues very complicated at the purely domestic level, but even more so when cross-jurisdictional issues come into play as users, their data, and technology providers can all reside in different physical locations. In fact, government and industry are grappling with these issues on many fronts – in diplomatic discussions between the U.S. and Europe, in legislation introduced in the U.S. Senate, and, most recently, in a legal case brought by Microsoft Corp. challenging a US government search warrant for customer communications stored in a company datacenter in Dublin, Ireland.

Join us Friday, March 13 from 8am-9am at the Snow Dining Room, 4th floor, Vanderbilt Hall, NYU School of Law, for a discussion on Cloud Data Access from the transnational perspective. This brief panel will explore the specific legal questions raised by these jurisdictional issues, the laws involved, and arguments on how these issues should be resolved. Panelists include Ira Rubinstein, Senior Fellow, Information Law Institute, Zachary K. Goldman, Executive Director, Center on Law and Security, and Katherine J. Strandburg, Alfred B. Engelberg Professor of Law.

This event has been approved for 1 credit of NY CLE in the area of Professional Practice and is appropriate for newly admitted and experienced attorneys.

Breakfast will be provided.  To RSVP, please click here or email CLS@exchange.law.nyu.edu.

Event: Anthony Townsend: Smart Cities vs. Wise Cities

Event: Anthony Townsend: Smart Cities vs. Wise Cities

At Microsoft, we dream of the unlimited possibilities technology could bring to our cities in the future. Technologically-centralized cities are most beneficial to their local government, utilizing civic technology for social good and government progress. How large of an effect can data and technology really have on culture, and where should we set limits? What effect does civic technology have on public innovation?

The conversation on the use of civic tech for smart cities takes place this Thursday at 6:30 at Civic Hall. The night will offer the opportunity to engage in an intimate conversation and Q&A with Anthony Townsend (@anthonymobile), author of Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. Join us for drinks and discussion of innovation and civic technology.

Recap: #CodeAcross / Open Data Day

This weekend, we were beyond impressed to have hundreds of civic tech leaders (and newcomers) join us for #CodeAcross and Open Data Day. We kicked off with a conversation with New York City’s Chief Analytics Officer, Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki, at our headquarters, then continued over the weekend with hackathons, workshops and more at Civic Hall.

Our team was happy to take home three special awards for #AthenaCivic, a network visualization tool organizing and categorizing local civic tech entities.

See below for some of the top tweets of the weekend. Thank you to all who joined us in hacking, conversation, and fun!

This Weekend, Hack Away With #CodeAcross and Open Data Day

This weekend, New York City is all about open data. On February 21 and 22, the New York tech community will be celebrating two benchmark events: #CodeAcross and International Open Data Day. Birthed from the same passion to realize the potential of open data and civic technology, this weekend’s events seek to initiate newcomers into the world of data and bring practitioners and community members together to create new value from our community’s data sets.

We’ll kick off the weekend at Microsoft’s Times Square headquarters in a conversation with New York City’s Chief Analytics Officer, Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki. BetaNYC’s Noel Hidalgo will deliver questions to Amen that have been crowdsourced from the community. Ask Amen your question here.

This Weekend, Hack Away With #CodeAcross and Open Data Day

Then, on Saturday and Sunday, we’ll celebrate Open Data Day and CodeAcross at our partner Civic Hall. #CodeAcross NYC is an open event aimed at directing the incredible energy and talent of the tech community toward some of our community’s most pressing challenges and opportunities. The two-day festival brings together governments, community groups, academic organizations, and individuals passionate about data to create impactful solutions.

Cities around the world will band together to gain insights from datasets, make new applications, drive forward existing projects, and altogether use open data to show how sharing information can transform how governments operate and how society solves problems. Through the use of data platforms like SQL, HDInsight, Microsoft Azure, Excel, and Power BI, citizens can partake in civic engagement that promotes openness through all facets of government.

We’re proud that NYC has more open data sets than any other city. There is a plethora of data to be used for public good,particularly when you include BetaNYC’s community-maintained open data sets.  With hackathons, unconference sessions, a workshop on mapping open data, and a series of themed challenges designed to improve the City of New York’s data and its usage, the next few days will be especially busy. Importantly, these events are open to all – technical and non-technical, governmental and non-governmental – and aimed toward teaching about open data, in addition to building new tools and apps. Because realizing the impact of civic technology, in general, and open data, in particular, requires an all hands on deck approach that will continue long past this weekend. We hope you’ll join us.

Register for #CodeAcross NYC at https://codeacrossnyc2015.eventbrite.com.

Want to work toward public good through civic tech past #CodeAcross? Here’s how to hack for a cause.

Fellow Profile: Fatima Khalid

Fellow Profile: Fatima KhalidWhere are you from?: New York City ☆

School/grade/major: New York University {Polytechnic School of Engineering}, Senior, Computer Science & Journalism.

Last Thing You Binged:  CW’s The 100 (Strong female leads and somewhat of a sci-fi Earth dystopia. It has me on my toes & waiting for the next episode every week!)

Why did you choose to intern with Microsoft? I thought I fell in love with Computer Science during one of my college tours where I shadowed a programming class, but I think it was long before that when I was making layouts on Neopets, but just didn’t realize it. Ever since, I’ve been excited about anything in technology. When I first met John Farmer, I was thrilled about the idea of working towards helping people with the skills I’ve developed. Microsoft’s new vision under the leadership of Nadella is like a revolution, I wanted to be a part of it!

What projects are you working on for your position as tech fellow for Microsoft New York? I’ve been working with my team on setting roots in the Civic Tech community in NY and becoming a part of it as well. From attending conferences and meeting people to participating and building tech at hackathons, we’ve been encouraging dialogue and offering services – letting the community know that we’re here.  As a team, we’ve been designing and coding a large scale visualization tool for a birds-eye view of all things Civic Tech. It will be launched at Code Across 2015.

What excites you about civic tech? Technology is always exciting, but civic tech throws a spin on it that really inspires me. When I first joined Microsoft Technology and Civic Engagements, I was really shocked to find this hidden community (it’s entering the secret garden!). There’s just so much talent, drive, and motivation in the community to build things towards helping people – and creating smarter, more technologically advanced cities. To me, part of building the future is technology, but an even more important part is building technology that will make an impact on people’s lives!

What’s one problem you hope civic tech will solve for cities? I hope that civic tech will make cities more resilient. Technology and sensors can be combined to build a dynamic where people are better connected with their cities.When it comes to things like transportation, pollution types, or even disasters – an informed and well-educated populace will make better decisions. In particular, I hope to see civic tech change the way cities will respond to disasters during which quick access to water, food, shelter and even emergency aid is required.

[Op-Ed] Full Spectrum Open Data

[Op-Ed] Full Spectrum Open Data

This post was originally published as an op-ed in TechPresident.

Transparency and open government advocates have been successful in convincing governments around the world to share some of their data with society at large. (And thanks to the Sunlight Foundation, we’ll soon know which data they’re not sharing, as well). But there is plenty of important civic information that isn’t collected or maintained by governments. We need to supplement open government data with data from others to give nonprofits, governments, and researchers a more holistic understanding of reality.

Here are a few projects working to augment open government data with open data from other sources:

Open Data Philly, first launched in 2011, is an early manifestation of the idea that official city data can live in the same open repository as other community datasets. Hosting a variety of datasets on the same repository suggests not only that we can bring them together, but also that we expect groups other than governments to contribute to the commons.

Last December, Singapore’s Infocomm agency shared its Federated Dataset Registry to help businesses discover the public- and private-sector open data available to them. This data-as-a-service platform, built on the open-source CKAN platform, is designed to help users discover private sector datasets that have recently been made available. They’ve offered the first 25 data providers $3,000 in web hosting credits to help encourage dataset contributions. And last week, the team hosted a Data Discovery Challenge competition to encourage “mashing” of the private and public data into new solutions, and, they hope, spur commerce.

In the crisis mapping space, online volunteers parse official data as well as social media and traditional news reports to improve emergency responders’ situational awareness. That situational awareness, or sense of what’s taking place on the ground, has traditionally been limited to formal data sources, and can now be augmented by a wider range of available information for a higher resolution picture.

Last summer in New York City, UN Global Pulse, the engine room, and the Data & Society Institute convened a forum on the responsible use of private sector data for public good. There’s a lot of work to be done on “the responsible use of data” side of things, and there’s no better host of that conversation than Data & Society.

Inspired by the workshop, participants from Microsoft, Data & Society, UN Global Pulse, and the Rockefeller Foundation are putting together a guide to help private sector actors (companies) consider opening up their data to the public sector (governments, nonprofits, and researchers). It is no longer possible to talk about opening up data without also considering the potential surveillance and marketing applications, which we begin to do in the roadmap. Please contribute your thoughts and links to this evergreen resource once we publish. The conversation around how to use private data for public good is increasingly nuanced, and we welcome it, because there’s still huge societal value in gaining a clearer picture of our world.

City of New York Announces Microsoft NYC Tech Jobs Academy

Microsoft is constantly investing in new technologies, but also in people. We often come together with the City of New York to foster continued progress in the tech sector. Many of our shared ventures support education and job skills to help bridge the opportunity divide. In addition to propelling STEM education and computer science in schools, we support tech talent in the workplace through internship programs, commitments to hiring, scholarships, and more. That’s why we’re pleased to have joined Mayor Bill de Blasio today in announcing the Microsoft NYC Tech Jobs Academy, as part of the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline initiative. Announced by the Mayor in May 2014, the Tech Talent Pipeline is a first-of-its-kind, $10 million public-private partnership designed to support the growth of the City’s tech ecosystem and prepare New Yorkers for 21st century jobs. In the pilot stage, we are partnering with the City University of New York (CUNY) to gather at least 25 young adult learners and empower them, through an intensive program, with new skills that will allow them to enter the tech sector and build successful long-lasting careers.

The NYC Tech Jobs Academy builds on Microsoft’s experience designing and delivering an intensive program for people leaving the military. These accelerated learning programs focus on building expertise relevant to key tech trends such as big data and cloud computing and the skills individuals need to succeed in highly-collaborative tech workplace environments. For New York, we are identifying the top job skills most-needed by 3,000 partner companies in the area and providing a full-time curriculum to deliver these skills in a matter of months, not years. Through this program, students will be empowered with real-world tech career skills, and the tech sector will get access to the fresh, job-ready talent it needs.

Microsoft is committed to improving education outcomes and helping young people in New York City do more and achieve more. In addition to this new pilot program, we fulfill that commitment every day through the more than 30 free programs and partnerships that make up the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative. As the Mayor pointed out today, there is great opportunity for us to work together for impact. Though the city’s technology ecosystem represents nearly 300,000 jobs, businesses are still struggling to find qualified talent to fill open positions. For young people today, NYC tech jobs represent real economic opportunity and earn 49% more than the average hourly wage in the city.

We understand that New York’s greatest resource is our people. It is their intelligence, determination and teamwork that will form the backbone of the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline. We are committed to this community and proud to work with the City to create brighter futures. Our announcement today is testament to that fact. Find out more about the Microsoft NYC Tech Jobs Academy and our partnerships with the City of New York and CUNY by reading the Crain’s article here.

Big Changes for Education in the Big Apple

Today, in the State of the City Address by New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, she announced a further venture to Lift #EveryVoiceNYC by combining education with technology. We are pleased to announce that in collaboration with the City Council, the New York City Department of Education has worked to provide 1.1 million students in the New York City Public Schools free access to Office365 ProPlus, including up to five downloads of the latest versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook, Access and Publisher, along with anywhere, anytime access to OneDrive cloud storage.

Microsoft is committed to improving education outcomes and helping young people around the world do more and achieve more. We fulfill that commitment every day through the more than 30 free programs and hundreds of partnerships that make up the Microsoft YouthSpark initiative. We also bring that commitment to life through the Office 365 ProPlus benefit.

Read more about Microsoft’s partnership with the New York City Department of Education here.

To learn more about Microsoft’s commitment to youth and education, visit our YouthSpark Hub or follow us on twitter at @msftcitizenship.

C/I helps NYC students build their tech skills with free speech hackathon hosted by Microsoft

Technology isn’t just making it easier for people to communicate with each other, it’s also making it easier for them to express themselves freely, especially those who live in low-income communities. Since a lot of those communities are right here in New York, it’s something Microsoft New York is pretty passionate about.

That’s why we were very excited to support C/I, a New York-based nonprofit that teaches underserved students how to code, by playing host for their hackathon last Saturday, January 31st on finding ways to enhance free speech through technology. Altogether over 80 C/I students spent the morning working under the guidance of 25 volunteer tech mentors to develop some astoundingly creative project ideas in just a few hours.

The students, who have been learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript through C/I, then got to present their ideas in front of judges from a number of major NYC-based organizations, including Time Inc, Handy, NYC Media Lab, Saks Fifth Avenue and IV Media. And the judges were blown away by the quality of the projects, which included everything from a website that aggregates news from a spectrum of viewpoints, to “The Silencer,” a device that ensures cell phone conversations stay private wherever you are.

To find out more about the hackathon, check out C/I’s blog post on the event. And if you’re interested in the impact C/I has on its students day after day, take a look at their website as well. They’re doing amazing work!

February Civic Tech Events

February Civic Tech Events

February brings with it plenty of snow, but more importantly, plenty of events to keep the wheels of civic tech turning. As always, let us know if we’ve missed any great NYC civic tech events.

February 3: February 2015 NY Tech Meetup
February 4, 11: BetaNYC presents a Civic Hacknight in Manhattan
February 7: Hacks and Hackers partners with NYPL Labs for a civic data hackathon
February 9: A Conversation with mySociety’s Tom Steinberg at Civic Hall
February 11: Leading figures from government, philanthropy, business, and the tech world come together for #NetGain to launch a major new partnership, explore shared principles, and get ambitious about the next generation of innovation for social change and progress.
February 21—22: #CodeAcross NYC 2015 — NYC’s open data & civic technology festival!
February 25: Civic Hacknight in Queens with C4Q