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geoBoundaries Team Presents at NYC Open Data Week 2021

On Tuesday, Mar. 9, geoBoundaries Managing Director Sydney Fuhrig ’21 gave a presentation on behalf of her team at NYC Open Data Week 2021. The presentation was hosted by William & Mary’s AidData research lab, and three other AidData members presented alongside Fuhrig for their 90-minute event.

NYC Open Data Week is an annual event hosted by the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, BetaNYC and Data Through Design, and took place from Saturday, Mar. 6 to Sunday, Mar. 14. This year’s virtual sesion hosted over 100 events, all designated to increase civic engagement with municipal open data. 

“I jumped at the opportunity, because I've never before had a chance to present to such a large group of people about my work,” Fuhrig said. “We ended up presenting to around 70 people...there were a lot of William & Mary people there, but there were also people from outside the school too.”

Their presentation was focused around the applications and utilization of geospatial data, specifically open source data. The first stage of the presentation focused on AidData’s GeoQuery database, which allows users to freely find and aggregate satellite, economic, health, conflict, and other types of geospatial data. Though AidData and the geoLab are not affiliated, Fuhrig described geoBoundaries’ data as being “the backbone of the GeoQuery dataset.” 

“Right now, the data on GeoQuery is geoBoundaries’ 1.3.3 release; so that was three years ago,” Fuhrig said. “No one currently on our team has touched the data that GeoQuery uses. But in the future, we’re hoping to update GeoQuery with our updated boundaries. It's something that I think is really nice to see, because it's just another example of how political boundaries are important for literally anything and everything. And it's another example of open data, which makes me happy.”

The final 15-minute stage of the presentation was given by Fuhrig, who spoke on geoBoundaries’ work. While her talk was mainly focused on the dataset, Fuhrig also discussed how geoBoundaries originated, their methodology, and a brief overview of geoBoundaries’ external partnerships. 

“It's really important to get the word out there about geoBoundaries, because geoBoundaries is only four years old,” Fuhrig said. “So for us, it feels like a long time, but in the general scope of things, it's nothing. And so I think it's really important to get the word out about geoBoundaries, so that we can increase our coverage, and so that more people know about us and use our data.”


Fuhrig believes it's important to spread awareness of geoBoundaries and their work, in order to increase student interest and research at the geoLab. 

“I want anyone and everyone to be able to do research without barriers, and cost is a big barrier for a lot of people; geoBoundaries is really crucial at helping to solve that problem,” Fuhrig said.  “I think it's crucial to give these talks to increase awareness on geoBoundaries, and also just open data in general; open data is exceptionally important.”

geoBoundaries Contributors: Sydney Fuhrig, Sylvia Shea, Andrew Peck, Hannah Slevin, Maddy Mulder, Austin Anderson, Elizabeth Dowker, Heather Baier, Matt Crittenden, Seth Goodman, Grace Grimsley, Rachel Layko, Graham Melville, Rachel Oberman, Joshua Panganiban, Leigh Seitz , Rebecca Youngerman, Lauren Hobbs, Sean Murphy, Lydia Troup, Lindsey Rogers, Josh Habib, Sidonie Horn, Dorian Miller, Hadley Day, Dominic Fornatora, Natalie Spage, Kristina Pupkiewicz, Michael Roth, Carolina Rivera, Helena Buckman, Emily Topness, Neel Simpson, James Turner, Sam Updike, Charlie Altman, Isabel Schruer, Tara McLaughlin, Russ Biddle, Renee Ritchey, Jason Lin