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Why You Should Apply (Now!) for Microsoft’s Data Science Summer School

Last summer, I was utterly starstruck in the geekiest way possible. My peers and I in the Microsoft Research Data Science Summer School (DS3) had chosen to use Airbnb data for our final project. After we made our presentation to a packed room, a couple of data scientists working at Airbnb reached out to us to express interest in our paper, and we then presented our project to them in private. At the time, I just remember thinking to myself, “This is so cool!”

This Friday, April 21st, is the deadline for this summer’s version of DS3. So, if what you read here sounds interesting and you want to be a part of DS3, there’s no time to waste. Apply today!

DS3 is the brainchild of a handful of awesome Microsoft researchers – Jake Hofman, Justin Rao, and Sharad Goel – who wanted to inspire students and help create a more diverse and accessible field of data science. The program has two parts. First, you learn the equivalent of one semester of data science compressed into four weeks. It’s intense. In the mornings – which usually start around 10AM – renowned senior Microsoft researchers will privately teach you and seven other students cutting edge data science and statistics. No specific background is required, and they always make sure everyone understands what is going on. In the afternoon, you are left to complete a mini data science project, to put into practice the lessons you’re learning.
The second part of DS3 is the final project, which is the focus of the final four weeks. You form a team and work on your project for the entire day. You use real-world datasets to come up with an entirely original research paper. Each team typically has two mentors, and those mentors are there for the entire process: brainstorming research ideas, coding, writing the actual paper, learning how to cite properly and preparing for your presentation. My team’s research paper was accepted into conferences at MIT and the ACM’s Tapia Conference for Diversity in Computer Science, and that could not have happened without the amazing guidance of our mentors. I can’t stress how unbelievably awesome it is to have renowned researchers dedicate multiple weeks to help you write your first-ever research paper. They become your teachers, advisors, recommenders and debuggers. One of them has become an almost parental figure to me, and still advises me on my college classes to this day.

I highly encourage anyone who thinks data science, big data, and artificial intelligence are interesting — you should apply to DS3! You don’t need to be a genius; you just need to be curious and willing to work hard. You will be surprised at how helpful and humble everyone at Microsoft is. To be honest, I didn’t like statistics at all and wasn’t the best at math. But in DS3, you come to realize that quantitative skills are only part of the equation, and that good data scientists must also be creative, reflective and inquisitive. I guarantee you no matter what background you have, DS3 will give you a lifetime of skills, inspiration, friends, and confidence. I’m now working as a Civic Tech Fellow on Microsoft’s Technology & Civic Innovation team – and I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t taken the leap of faith to spend a summer in DS3.

Data science is at a historic moment because it has already begun to change the way businesses and organizations work. It is applicable to so many more fields than you think. Like how the camera gave computers sight, data science is giving computers millions of new senses to interpret the world. There is a reason Harvard Business Review published an article proclaiming “Data Science: the Sexiest Job of the 21st Century.”  I feel like I am part of something big, I have new superpowers with which to change the world, and it is all very exciting.

The deadline to apply to the Microsoft Research Data Science Summer School (DS3) is this Friday, April 21st. Any interested college student can learn more and apply here.

Using Data Science to Improve Traffic Safety

As U.S. traffic deaths continue to rise, cities across America are increasingly focused on eliminating crash-related injuries and fatalities. Data can be a powerful resource in these efforts to make streets safer.  We’re happy to support this effort, partnering with DataKind, which recently completed the Vision Zero Labs Project. This effort worked to develop valuable analytical models and tools to help the cities of New York, Seattle and New Orleans further their work to increase road safety.

In partnership with DataKind, a nonprofit that harnesses the power of data science in service of humanity, and the New York City Department of Transportation, we launched this project in August 2015, joining forces with the Seattle Department of Transportation and the City of New Orleans’ Office of Performance and Accountability in March 2016. With these cities, the Vision Zero Labs Project has become the first and largest multi-city, data-driven collaboration of its kind to drive traffic safety efforts in the U.S.

Using data science techniques, DataKind accessed open and internal city data to design several models and tools that enable cities to test the effectiveness of various street safety interventions, estimate total traffic volumes and gain additional insight into crash-related factors.

Learn more about our work with DataKind and Vision Zero:

ABOUT DATAKIND

Launched in 2011, DataKind is a global nonprofit that harnesses the power of data science, AI and machine learning in the service of humanity. Through its core programs – Labs, DataCorps and DataDives – the organization brings together leading data scientists and social sector experts to collaborate on projects to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges. A leader in the Data for Good movement, DataKind was named one of Fast Company’s Top 10 Most Innovative Nonprofits for 2017. Headquartered in New York City, DataKind has Chapters in Bangalore, Dublin, San Francisco, Singapore, the UK and Washington, D.C. For more information visit www.datakind.org

ABOUT VISION ZERO

An initiative born in Sweden in the 1990’s, Vision Zero aims to reduce traffic-related deaths and serious injuries to zero. It has been adopted by more than a dozen U.S. cities including New York and Seattle. Vision Zero believes that crashes are predictable and preventable, which means there is great potential for data and technology to help uncover patterns of incidents so governments can take action to prevent fatalities before they occur.

Fellow Profile: Louise Lai

Where are you from? I was born in Malaysia, grew up in Australia, and now live in New York. I also lived in London and Shanghai. Cue the weird accent.

School/grad year/major: Junior at New York University, double majoring in business & political economy and computer science.

Last thing you searched on Bing“How to download Microsoft Azure for Mac”

Why did you choose Microsoft’s fellowship program? It’s truly a one-of-a-kind program. I chose this over a pure software engineering role because it speaks to my diverse interests in politics, business and computer science. I was in the Microsoft data science summer school last year, and after my project presentation, John Paul Farmer, who I currently work under, came up to me and we started talking about civic tech. The rest is history.

What’s your favorite civic project in the New York? Retrofitting old payphones for WiFi. I like it for its simplicity and what it represents – scrapping the antiquated and moving onto the future.

Who is your civic tech mentor/idol? Obama. Many people don’t realize this, but he was the first president to bring in a team of techies to rebuild the digital infrastructure of Washington, which is now a permanent part of the U.S. federal government. He also created the Presidential Innovation Fellows program. Read this article ‘Obama and his geeks’ and prepare to be impressed.

What excites you about civic tech? The fact that civic tech is just in its infancy excites me. It feels like a startup that is about to take off. Traditionally, government has been resistant to big changes in technology, but now, people are truly seeing the benefit of using big data and cloud services which will only create a brighter future for all.

What’s one problem you hope civic tech will solve for cities? Creating more efficient and inclusive public engagement.

The Rise of Smart Cities, From NYC to Tel Aviv

Israel is a global leader in technology and innovation, giving rise to companies like Waze and Mobileye (acquired last week by Intel for $15B).

Last month I had the pleasure of joining 1,500+ participants in Tel Aviv at iNNOVEX2017, Israel’s premier conference on technology and innovation, at which I met with a number of impressive Israeli startups and gave a presentation on smart cities:

Slides:

Because much has been said about smart cities, I focused my presentation on three truths:

  1. The decentralization of Silicon Valley is causal to the rise of smart cities;
  2. “Smart cities” means many things beyond drones and self-driving cars;
  3. Technology is not the challenge.

Decentralization is good.

Once upon a time, you had to be in Silicon Valley to work in technology.

That is changing domestically and around the world, as resource access is increasingly democratized:

 

Number of venture-capital deals, 2012

The 12 Cities at the Forefront of Global Tech – Savills World Research, Feb 2015

This shift in regional affinity is also contributing to a shift in demographic.

It wasn’t long ago that many technologists looked like this:

Credit: http://readwrite.com/2014/05/02/soma-street-style-hbo-silicon-valley/

That stereotype is rapidly dissolving, as technologists increasingly look like this:

Credit: Gaza Sky Geeks

Credit: The Kemach Foundation in Israel

Members of the White House science, technology, and digital service organizations in 2015.

This growing diversity and decentralization lead to increased access to opportunity and reduced implicit bias in technology. As it relates to smart cities, this also means that technologists are no longer concentrated in Silicon Valley, but are located all across the country and thus more attuned to the needs of their users, resulting in services being designed with (not for) local residents. This intimate familiarity is critical to the success of smart cities, as:

  • what works in Omaha may not work with the hills and seismic activity of San Francisco;
  • what works with the single-story homes and 900+ miles of highway in Los Angeles may not work with the tall buildings and city streets of Manhattan;
  • what works with the Internet connectivity of Kenya (86% coverage of 4 Mbps broadband) may not work with the digital infrastructure of Uganda (12% coverage), despite sharing a border and having roughly similar populations.

It’s not all about drones.

“Smart cities” often elicits thoughts of autonomous vehicles: self-driving cars, delivery drones, etc.

In fact, the most impactful aspects of a city becoming “smarter” are much more fundamental to the fabric of society:

When we expand the scope of what constitutes smart cities, we ensure the application of technology in the most meaningful ways.

Technology is not the challenge.

While recent advances in technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence, computer vision, etc. have enabled various aspects of smart cities, many of the largest hurdles to adoption are not technological in nature.

Many policy implications exist:

Ethical considerations also exist:

Further resources

There is a lot of activity around smart cities, including an interesting talk by FCC CIO David Bray at SXSW last month and various Smart City Expo events planned for 2017 globally.

Finally, don’t miss Smart Cities NYC ‘17 coming up this May 3–6 in New York!

NYC Computer Science Opportunity Fair Brings STEM to Students

Last week, we partnered with CSNYC, Computer Science for All, the Technology Education and Literacy in Schools (TEALS), and others to sponsor New York’s largest annual college and career inspiration event for CS-oriented public high school students. The fourth annual NYC Computer Science Opportunity Fair hosted over 2,000 students from 60 schools across all five boroughs as well as 90 companies, colleges, and extracurricular programs. Invited students were chosen based on their participation in TEALS, NYC CS4All, and other CS and career and technical education programs. The program’s aimed to excite students about the myriad of educational and professional opportunities that often result from a CS education. By showcasing the culture & products of leading tech companies, the fair nurtures the aspirations of blossoming young technologists.

Colleges, companies, and various extracurricular programs demonstrated the experiences of project-building in academic and workforce environments. Relevant CS departments exhibited current and past research projects and informed students about offerings within their respective programs. Our exhibit booth featured an interactive gaming station as well as the opportunity to Skype with a Microsoft engineer. Most notably popular was our Intelligent Kiosk demo, which used the suite of Cognitive Services APIs to guess students’ ages and emotion relayed via facial expression. HoloLens experiences were also offered for students who wanted to try out augmented reality.

As students perused booths, they had the option to scan their badge’s QR code by staffers. After the fair, students could then use their badge to log into the fair’s web portal and view info about each booth visited. Each check-in was worth an entry in the event’s CS raffle, which awarded prizes periodically during the event. Prizes ranged from gift cards to class visits to prominent tech companies. Microsoft submitted two Xbox One units to be raffled off. Check-ins proved to be hugely popular; By the end of the fair, students had checked into booths 8,100 times!

A very excited winner of an XBox One (photo via csfair.nyc)

Various guest speakers also came in throughout the day for a series of networking, panels, and tech talks. Participating groups included the Tech Leaders Panel, CS@College Panels, Music and Tech Panels, and Lightning Talks. Lightning talk speakers discussed entrepreneurship, data modeling/visualization, computer vision, cloud solutions, online privacy, user research, product management, and more.

Microsoft Tech Evangelist, Adina Shanholtz, demoing HoloLens (photo via csfair.nyc)

Students who wanted more hands-on activities could put their tech skills to work by contributing to one of the four maker space projects. The stations offered students the ability to connect LED diodes to lithium batteries, create electromyography drawings, build real-world Minecraft creations, or engineer CS puppet animations.

Perhaps the most exciting new program addition this year was the first-ever student showcase. Numerous students from around the NYC area submitted computer science projects to be reviewed for participation. Eight outstanding projects were selected as finalists to pitch to a judging panel comprised of notable tech leaders and Department of Ed administrators. After thorough consideration, two winning teams were chosen: CODEX, who compared A* performance using various paradigms, and Digital Dance, who used Sphero robot balls to program a mixed-media performance.

Through interactive and hands-on experience, young New Yorkers had a plethora of opportunities to begin to explore their professional interests. Hardware enthusiasts battled robots, physics fanatics learned about quantum computing, and internet of things aficionados played with wearable electronic devices. Companies and universities varied in size, allowing participants to experience differences and weigh which options might seem most appealing as they launch into postsecondary education. Most importantly, it exposes youth at an earlier age, giving them more knowledge, more options, and more resources with which to build a career.

We extend a huge thank you to all of our volunteers and partners who helped us make this event useful and fun for both students and staff. For more information about the CS Opportunity Fair, check out their website at http://csfair.nyc/.

A Letter to Elizabeth Stewart (From Elizabeth Stewart)

As part of Microsoft’s commitment to diversity and empowerment, we’re thrilled to celebrate Women’s History Month with our newest spotlight series. We’ve asked local women leaders to write a letter to their teenage and college-aged selves to recall a moment in time when they felt empowered by technology. Throughout the month of March, we’ll be spotlighting this series on our blog. We hope these stories uplift you and inspire you to #MakeWhatsNext.

What I would tell my younger self:

My first movie theater experience was watching Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia in Return of the Jedi. I was five years old. It’s my earliest memory of feeling awe struck by a person. I left the theater wanting to be just like her. For the next five years I was Princess Leia in all my pretend play. I would spend hours directing imaginary characters for new storylines in my own version of Star Wars, channeling the bold, strong-willed, and sometimes-vulnerable woman I saw on screen. Through that play, I naturally explored parts of her character that resonated with my own. It even affected how I played with the boys in my neighborhood. Riding my bright pink dirt bike, I simply expected that I should ride out in front of the pack with the oldest boys and set the direction for our adventures.

Arriving at my teenage years, I lost that bold, confident, and defiant self I had cultivated in my early childhood. I retreated into the insecurities that come with the transition from child to teenager to college age (and this was before Facebook!). I became more quiet, unsure, and cautious as I navigated the emotional ups and downs of relating to boys and then men personally and professionally. I even forgot about Carrie Fisher’s influence as Princess Leia until 15 years later.

The last 15 years, in many ways, has been a journey to rediscover the bold, confident, defiant, and vulnerable parts of myself, and learn how to express them. With that journey in mind, I’d like to tell my younger 20-something year old self these four things:

  • Find time to remember how you saw and interacted with the world as a child. That person, in many ways, is the most authentic and honest version of yourself. Find that voice and cultivate it alongside the wisdom that comes from getting older.
  • Learn to identify feelings of awkwardness and emotional or mental discomfort and ask why. Don’t distract yourself with busyness to avoid these feelings. It’s in these moments that you will grow the most individually and in your relationship with others.
  • Live from a place of inquiry rather than judgment. Have bold ideas and strong opinions, but focus even more on nurturing empathic understandings and insights in your relationship with yourself and others. You will be more effective sooner in life if you do.
  • Play more. Play is an important part of exploring self-expression and seeing how comfortable you are in your own skin. For some it comes naturally, but for some it needs to be practiced. Either way, the older you get, the more life becomes about work, and having this as a practice early on leads to a more well-rounded self.

Best,

Elizabeth

For the last fifteen years, Elizabeth’s career has focused on strategy, fundraising, and cross-sector partnerships that advance social innovation. She is cofounder of Impact Hub Los Angeles, a for-profit social enterprise that offers physical space, professional and cultural programming, and community for a diverse array of Angelenos working to create positive impact. As the founding CEO, for four years she advised a variety of social and civic startups ranging from clean tech to community-oriented technology enterprises, and advanced the field of impact investing in Los Angeles. During that time she launched Civic Innovation Lab in partnership with the Los Angeles Mayor’s Office and Microsoft, a three-part lab harnessing citizen ingenuity to solve pressing civic and social issues culminating in a city accelerator program. Prior to Impact Hub LA, she founded Causemopolis, a boutique consulting firm focused on economic development and environmental sustainability in cities. She has also worked abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America on poverty reduction and women’s empowerment programs. Elizabeth holds a BA in International Relations and an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA, where she pioneered the Graduate Leaders in Sustainability Certificate. Her board service includes Liberty Hill Foundation, Advisors in Philanthropy LA, and Concerned Capital. She is one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People for 2013, and was profiled on Forbes.com as “a woman changing the LA entrepreneur landscape.” Find her @elizinmotion.

A Letter to Hanna Wallach (From Hanna Wallach)

As part of Microsoft’s commitment to diversity and empowerment, we’re thrilled to celebrate Women’s History Month with our newest spotlight series. We’ve asked local women leaders to write a letter to their teenage and college-aged selves to recall a moment in time when they felt empowered by technology. Throughout the month of March, we’ll be spotlighting this series on our blog. We hope these stories uplift you and inspire you to #MakeWhatsNext.

Dear 14-year-old Hanna,

This is 37-year-old Hanna. I’m writing to tell you a little bit about your future – who you are and how you got there.

Right now, you think you’re not very smart; you think that studying is tedious, and you haven’t had much encouragement from others about your intelligence. You’re mostly focusing on quantitative subjects and think that you’re going to become an engineer – not because you particularly want to, but because others have told you to do so – but you’re really most interested in questions about people and society. Guess what: you’re actually really smart. Twenty-something years later, you have a PhD in machine learning, a subfield of computer science – from Cambridge, no less! – and you’re a Senior Researcher at Microsoft. Your research is in the interdisciplinary area of computational social science – i.e., the study of social processes using fancy math and fast computers.

You think that computers are only used for word processing and creating spreadsheets, and are therefore really boring. But computers are actually awesome. There’s this thing called the Internet that’s only been around for a couple of years. You don’t know this yet, but it will transform day-to-day life. It will enable people all over the world to communicate with each other. It will mean that computers and society are inextricably linked, and you will be able to use computers to study all kinds of social phenomena. This will change your life. You will end up working with computer scientists and social scientists to answer questions about how people interact – how they communicate, how they influence one another, and how this changes over time. In a few years, you’ll read an article by one of your now colleagues about the science of small-world networks. This article will blow your mind. For the first time, you’ll realize that you can combine your (soon-to-come) interest in computers with your interest in people and society.

At the moment, you’re surrounded by people who believe the following: “Either you’re initially good at something, in which case you should pursue it, or you’re not, in which case there’s no point in trying.” As a result, you are rebellious and you feel as if you don’t fit into the neat boxes set out for you by your teachers and parents. But, as a girl, the very act of studying computer science is a rebellion – and a far more exciting and constructive and fulfilling one than listening to Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins until 4am. In addition, over the next few decades, there will be a considerable amount of research indicating that adopting a “growth mindset” (believing that ability is something that can be cultivated via effort) rather than a “fixed mindset” (believing that ability is something that one is born with and cannot control) leads to increased perseverance and, eventually, success. Soon, you will learn about this research and you will adopt a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. It will make life much more fun 🙂

Because of your growth mindset, you will fail and fail repeatedly. But failing (and learning from these failures) is the one of the best ways to improve at anything you’re trying to learn; in order to succeed, you first need to learn how to fail. It turns out that “grit” (a combination of passion and perseverance) is the single personality trait that best predicts success. Although you don’t realize this yet, you have this trait. You’ll see this in practice when, at ages 16 and 17, you’ll fail many of your A-level exams. Ultimately, you’ll study to retake these exams, and this will become a pivotal moment for you – you’ll realize that if you’re passionate about something and you persevere, even when it’s really hard, you’ll eventually succeed. You’ll discover how you learn best, and that everyone learns differently.

It will take you a while to find your path, but when you do, you’ll totally crush it. Right now, you have yet to discover and embrace your intelligence and perseverance, but as this happens, everything will start to fall into place. You will end up becoming a Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research New York City and an Adjunct Associate Professor in the College of Information and Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. And in your “spare” time you’ll even play competitive roller derby and do parkour (which, guess what, exists). Finally, one last thing: you don’t know it yet, but you’re a total badass. Seriously. Keep that in mind, and you’ll do just fine.

Love,

Hanna

Celebrate Open Data Day in New York This Weekend

Every March, we’re excited to join data enthusiasts worldwide to celebrate International Data Day, a worldwide event that promotes awareness and use of open data. Through a series of events around the globe, people of all skill levels converge to create new projects, analyze data, and find new ways to visualize data.

We believe open data is a priority for civic tech enthusiasts — and we invite you to join us as we kick off the open data celebration this weekend. Here are some highlights of this weekend’s schedule — we hope to see you there:

March 3-5

Giving Tuesday DataDive, Presented by 92Y, DataKind, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

  • Friday 3/3 6:30pm-8pm EST: discuss goals for the DataDive and dive into the data!
  • Saturday 3/4 9am-9pm EST: choose a team and get to work!
  • Sunday 3/5 9am-3pm EST: final presentations and networking
    Note: You can attend one or all days.

We’re thrilled to be hosting a DataDive March 3-5 and are looking for data pros of all backgrounds to roll up their sleeves and work side by side with experts from the 92Y, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Facebook to help use data to unravel tough questions and prototype new solutions.

March 4

International Data Day

Open Data Day is an annual celebration of open data all over the world. For the fifth time in history, groups from around the world will create local events on the day where they will use open data in their communities. It is an opportunity to show the benefits of open data and encourage the adoption of open data policies in government, business and civil society. View activities happening around the world here.

NYC School of Data (SOLD OUT)

New York City School of Data is a community conference showcasing NYC’s civic design, civic/government technology, and open data ecosystem.

March 6

Civic Hall Presents: Open Data, Mapping Global Security & the Department of Defense

How can we get national security data into the open? The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) will demo its geospatial data portals for the Arctic, for combating wildlife trafficking in Africa, and for Hurricane Matthew.

March 7

Five Year Anniversary of New York City’s Open Data Law, Local Law 11 of 2012

In many countries, states and cities Open Data is a policy – here in New York City it is a law, which ensures that Open Data is here to stay.

NYC Chief Analytics Officer Dr. Amen Ra Mashariki speaking at Socrata’s Connect 2017 Conference in DC

10 – 10:25am on the Main Stage. Livestream details coming soon.

NYC Big Apps Workshop – NYC Open Data Portal & Department of City Planning Facilities Explorer Tutorials

Join members of the NYC Open Data team and Department of City Planning for a demo of the NYC Open Data Portal and new Facilities Explorer tool (launching soon) followed by a breakout session at the Tuesday March 7th NYC Big Apps Workshop. You’ll learn the basics about how to access NYC data (1600+ datasets!) and get an overview of other tools such as the Facilities Explorer powered by NYC Open Data that you can use to support your research and work for the Big Apps competition as well.

March 8

Made in NY Media Center + Fabernovel Data & Media: Open Data Breakfast

Whether you are a developer, agency or civil service non-profit having access to data drives business, improves services, and promotes free public access.

Together with FaberNovel we are hosting and interactive breakfast and conversation on March 8th to learn more about the City of New York’s Free Open Data Portal and how you can use it to build products, conduct research and analysis or create new applications.

Department of Small Business Services: 2017 Smart Districts Summit

Inaugural NYC Smart Districts Summit, where community and technology leaders will collaboratively explore how emerging technologies are being leveraged to address the most pressing district-level challenges.

College of Staten Island (CSI) Tech Incubator + Vizalytics: Data – A Driving Force of Innovation

Connect with us to discover how organizations and entrepreneurs are utilizing data to drive innovation within our local community. Learn the practices, technologies, and patterns the experts use to fuel their enterprises by way of big data.

March 9

Reaktor Open Data Studio

The goal of this evening is to share some ideas about how Open Data could be utilized in new ways, especially in New York. We have a happy hour with benchmarks from Helsinki, where open data catalogues have been advanced for a while, and companies and developers alike are used to creating cool applications for it.

Join us to hear examples of applying open data in a user-friendly way, and let’s come up with new ways to use open data to create new tools.

General Assembly Panel Discussion: Data and…Health

Big Data is continuing to significantly impact the way in which organizations operate and make informed business decisions. Emerging technologies are now paving the way to innovative medical developments, and it looks as though data is beginning to transform the entire healthcare industry! In collaboration with the first annual NYC Open Data Week, GA is bringing together influencers from the health and wellness spaces to discuss how data is impacting their organizations.

March 11

NYC Parks Computer Resource Centers Open Data for All: TreesCount! Workshop

This free workshop, presented by NYC Parks and the NYC Open Data team, offers a broad introduction to the NYC Open Data Portal along with the concept of data literacy and analysis.

Using NYC TreesCount! 2015 data, the most accurate map of NYC’s street trees ever created, you will learn how to identify, download, manipulate, and visualize NYC Open Data with a focus on community engagement and awareness. Using tools such as Google Sheets and CARTO, you will be able to create your own graphs and maps from NYC Open Data.

Recap: 2017 State of the City Addresses

This week, we were fortunate to join New York City in celebrating the current state of the city, while looking forward to future progress in NYC. With two separate addresses — the first by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and the second by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito — we recounted the successes our city has made and the steps we need to take to move forward.

We’d like to thank the city especially for spotlighting April, a graduate of our Tech Jobs Academy, as an example of how New Yorkers are seizing opportunities to build better futures.

A recap, via Twitter Moments:

National Entrepreneurship Week helps small businesses reach their big dreams

Every small business starts with a big dream. To help any company’s accomplishments mirror its ambition, Microsoft is sponsoring National Entrepreneurship Week. Five days of online and in-person events running Feb. 20‒24 are designed for entrepreneurs and business owners, including a Women in Entrepreneurship event in New York City.

Empowering business creators to thrive matters because small businesses play a crucial role in America’s economic success. They account for 55 percent of U.S. jobs, according to the Small Business Administration. And America’s 28 million small-business owners and entrepreneurs are at the forefront of innovation, fueling growth and creating jobs.

National Entrepreneurship Week will feature free workshops, content, webcasts, events and more, offered by event supporters including Dun & Bradstreet, LinkedIn, Wix and Yelp.

The Women in Entrepreneurship Panel will highlight the triumphs and tribulations faced by women from all walks of life who run small businesses. Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Magazine will moderate as women entrepreneurs detail tips on how to get a business off the ground and growing. It takes place Thursday, Feb. 23, 6‒8 p.m. ET, at the Microsoft Store (677 5th Ave., New York, NY 10022). The event is free but seating is limited, so RSVP now.

Also live in New York (and live on Facebook), Microsoft’s Cindy Bates — who leads the Small and Midsized Business and Distribution group — will discuss how modern technology can transform your small business. She will advise on best practices for launching a brand and outline the latest affordable tech tools for connecting with customers. RSVP now for Bates’ presentation on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 6‒8 p.m. ET at the Wix Lounge (235 West 23rd St.).

Here are additional in-person and online events and content to experience throughout the week. Visit the Microsoft Small and Midsize Business Blog for details:

To boot, many National Entrepreneurship Week supporters are offering specials and discounts to boost your business productivity. For example, Microsoft is offering 10 percent off select Surface and Windows 10 Pro devices. To find out more, visit your local Microsoft Store from Feb. 20‒26.

Check Entrepreneurship Week for regular updates, resources, new content and special offers throughout the week. And join in the conversation on Twitter by following #WININBIZ.

We look forward to engaging further and learning more about how these activities help small-business owners accelerate their success.