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Automating environmental
impact analyses in New York City
Hi! I’m Jonathan Pichot
Technologist in government
Passionate urbanist
Product Manager and Developer
at NYC Planning Labs
@_pichot
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Civic Tech
Improving the way government builds technology
Plan Tech
Using technology and data for better planning outcomes
or, the story of CEQR App
Civic tech story
Public sector entrepreneurship story
Future of planning story
Responsible for public land use review (changes to zoning)
Proposing land use changes (aligned with mayoral priorities)
Provide data and long-term planning resources across the city
Responsible for much of the environmental review
Proposals that increase density (ie. change zoning) are required to
analyze the environmental impact of that increased density
The definition of the “environment” in this context is broad:
urban design, air quality, public health, transportation
(19 technical chapters)
Analyses range between qualitative and quantitative assessments
Urban Design chapter is very qualitative,
Open Space is more quantitative
Output of process is a report (EIS/EAS) that discloses the proposal’s
affect on the environment, broadly defined
In most cases, all this analysis is done by environmental consultants
hired by applicants, but that work has to be double checked by the
relevant city agencies.
This process expensive, time-consuming, and convoluted.
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
This is Mona.
Mona’s job was to verify the work of
consultants producing the Public Schools
analysis, determining if there is enough
school capacity for future residents.
Much of the work was finding miscalculations, or where a consultant
missed an important piece of data
Lots of back and forth, emails, copies of copies of Excel
Computers are good at these things
As it happened, before joining Labs, I worked on the same team as
Mona
I was looking for a new project
We decided to prototype a tool to save her time (initial mandate)
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Within a few months, early prototypes were getting rave reviews:
“This is the future of CEQR”
“We need this yesterday”
Mona’s workload was also improving
Officially launched to Public Schools consultants October 2018
- Became the official way to deliver analyses to Mona for review
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Continued good reviews after launch, running user testing sessions
with consultants.
Every meeting was a good meeting:
“You just saved me 3 months”
“Thank you”
CEQR App, and yours myself, officially joined Labs.
Hired 3 new team members
(data engineer, full-stack developer, interaction designer)
“Teams before tech”
Project becomes bigger then tech: policy and business improvement
Leadership supports agile, iterative development to policy and
methodologies, not just digital product
Cross-disciplinary team: web developers, designers, data engineers,
policy and technical experts, business improvement analysts
Working model just as important as technical output:
Development team (biweekly sprints)
Working group (biweekly)
- Includes director of EARD, Director of Business Improvement
Steering Committee (quarterly)
- Agency director, head counsel, COO
Methodology
Improvements
New and better data
Related technical
products and
initiatives
Technical Manual
Revisions
CEQR App
Publicly launched Public Schools analysis in October 2018
> 100 users with 1 project or more
2 projects per user (median)
~ 50% less time (~ 8 hrs / project) per analysis with CEQR App
~ $1000 / project savings
~ $200,000 savings
Transportation chapter
- Transportation Demand Factor memo
Air Quality chapter
- Mapping stationary polluting sources
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)
Thank you!
https://labs.planning.nyc.gov
@nycplanninglabs

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Automating environmental impact analyses to improve urban planning in New York City - Jonathan Pichot (NYC Planning Labs)

  • 2. Hi! I’m Jonathan Pichot Technologist in government Passionate urbanist Product Manager and Developer at NYC Planning Labs @_pichot
  • 4. Civic Tech Improving the way government builds technology Plan Tech Using technology and data for better planning outcomes
  • 5. or, the story of CEQR App Civic tech story Public sector entrepreneurship story Future of planning story
  • 6. Responsible for public land use review (changes to zoning) Proposing land use changes (aligned with mayoral priorities) Provide data and long-term planning resources across the city Responsible for much of the environmental review
  • 7. Proposals that increase density (ie. change zoning) are required to analyze the environmental impact of that increased density The definition of the “environment” in this context is broad: urban design, air quality, public health, transportation (19 technical chapters)
  • 8. Analyses range between qualitative and quantitative assessments Urban Design chapter is very qualitative, Open Space is more quantitative
  • 9. Output of process is a report (EIS/EAS) that discloses the proposal’s affect on the environment, broadly defined In most cases, all this analysis is done by environmental consultants hired by applicants, but that work has to be double checked by the relevant city agencies. This process expensive, time-consuming, and convoluted.
  • 14. This is Mona. Mona’s job was to verify the work of consultants producing the Public Schools analysis, determining if there is enough school capacity for future residents.
  • 15. Much of the work was finding miscalculations, or where a consultant missed an important piece of data Lots of back and forth, emails, copies of copies of Excel Computers are good at these things
  • 16. As it happened, before joining Labs, I worked on the same team as Mona I was looking for a new project We decided to prototype a tool to save her time (initial mandate)
  • 18. Within a few months, early prototypes were getting rave reviews: “This is the future of CEQR” “We need this yesterday” Mona’s workload was also improving
  • 19. Officially launched to Public Schools consultants October 2018 - Became the official way to deliver analyses to Mona for review
  • 23. Continued good reviews after launch, running user testing sessions with consultants. Every meeting was a good meeting: “You just saved me 3 months” “Thank you”
  • 24. CEQR App, and yours myself, officially joined Labs. Hired 3 new team members (data engineer, full-stack developer, interaction designer) “Teams before tech”
  • 25. Project becomes bigger then tech: policy and business improvement Leadership supports agile, iterative development to policy and methodologies, not just digital product Cross-disciplinary team: web developers, designers, data engineers, policy and technical experts, business improvement analysts
  • 26. Working model just as important as technical output: Development team (biweekly sprints) Working group (biweekly) - Includes director of EARD, Director of Business Improvement Steering Committee (quarterly) - Agency director, head counsel, COO
  • 27. Methodology Improvements New and better data Related technical products and initiatives Technical Manual Revisions CEQR App
  • 28. Publicly launched Public Schools analysis in October 2018 > 100 users with 1 project or more 2 projects per user (median) ~ 50% less time (~ 8 hrs / project) per analysis with CEQR App ~ $1000 / project savings ~ $200,000 savings
  • 29. Transportation chapter - Transportation Demand Factor memo Air Quality chapter - Mapping stationary polluting sources