(Commons Photo courtesy of sporkwrapper.)Identifying and presenting neighborhood content that complements traditional relationships and existing local media is the key deliverable of a meaningful dotNeighborhood. Here we review a broad spectrum of neighborhood content. But before doing so, a word about the city’s regulatory requirements.

Forbidden and Required Content

We’ve been reviewing the city’s Licensing Agreement for acquiring dotNeighborhood names, paying particular attention to its content do’s and don’ts. The do’s are somewhat inconsequential – especially as they don’t specify where on the site the info must be presented. But the don’ts might prove to be quite restrictive to civic discussion. We’re not going into a detailed review here as the Licensing Agreement is currently (January 2016) a draft document. We’re keeping up with developments and will reflect changes on the blog. For now we’re just alerting all to the prospects, and providing access to the draft document as follows.

  • The City's Draft Licensing Agreement: Content You May Not Present

    Proposed content prohibited in the draft Licensing Agreement:

    The Licensee may not publish any of the following types of content on any of its Licensed Domain Names:

    1. any intellectual property of the City of New York without the City’s prior written consent;
    2. any intellectual property of a third party without that third party’s prior written consent;
    3. campaign-related materials or partisan political materials;
    4. offensive sexual  material, as described in New York Penal Law § 245.11, as it may be amended from time to time and/or material that contains image(s) of a person, who appears to be a minor, in a sexually suggestive dress, pose, or context;
    5. words that match, contain recognizable misspellings of or are otherwise recognizable variations of any of the seven words identified in Federal Communications Commission v. Pacifica Foundation, 438 U.S. 726 (1978);
    6. content that violates New York City Civil Rights Law § 50 (as such statute may be may be amended from time to time), or is otherwise libelous, slanderous or defamatory material, or material constituting an invasion of privacy.  Defamatory matter is a false statement that exposes a person to public contempt, ridicule, aversion or disgrace;
    7. promotes unlawful or illegal goods, services or activities;
    8. image(s) or information that demean an individual or group of individuals, on account of actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, whether children are, may or would be residing with such victim, marital status, partnership status, disability, or alienage or citizenship status as such categories are defined in § 8-102 of the Administrative Code of the City of New York (as it may be amended from time to time) or, for those categories not there defined, as they are commonly understood;
    9. implies or declares an endorsement by DoITT or the City of the Licensee, a particular project, purpose or point of view, without the City’s prior written consent;
    10. promotion of tobacco or tobacco-related products or e-cigarettes;
    11. direct promotion of the sale of alcohol or alcohol-related products; or
    12. promotion of gambling, gambling establishment or a gambling website.
  • The City's Draft Licensing Agreement: Required Content

    Proposed required content in the draft Licensing Agreement:

    Real-time Data Feeds (dynamic):

    1. 311 Today in New York (ASP, sanitation, snowplow, school closings)
    2. 311 service requests
    3. OEM/NY Alerts
    4. MTA
    5. Weather
    6. DOT construction/street closures
    7. Events (purely data-driven events from City’s API: City-Wide Events, Parks events, Workforce 1 events)

    Look-up Modules (Address-based query against static info):

    1. School finder, with UPK, lookup
    2. Polling place lookup
    3. Park finder lookup (includes playgrounds + pools)
    4. Library finder lookup
    5. Police precinct lookup
    6. Elected official lookup and info (local, state, federal)
    7. Afterschool program lookup
    8. Tenant Protections lookup

    Other Required Tools:

    1. 311 “How can we help you?” module
    2. Feedback module
    3.   Tracking Analytic Tool

    Other Available/Optional Modules:

    1. Look-up module for greenmarket info
    2. Look-up module for restaurant grades
    3. Look-up module for Parking Restrictions
    4. Look-up module for Trash pick-up schedule
    5. Look-up module for Workforce 1 locations
    6. Workforce 1 job listings
    7. Geotagged social media feeds


In selecting appropriate content for a dotNeighborhood the developer will need to draw upon social and civic connections. One advantage of developing local media is the immediacy of contact with residents through churches, schools, libraries, retail windows, tabling in front of the  post office and supermarkets, and existing personal relationships.

Minimally, when planning engagement strategies developers should contacts with the following, appraising them of the opportunities provided:

  • businesses
  • Business associations
  • property owners and co-op boards
  • civic, political, and social institutions
  • the community board
  • city, state, and federal elected representatives
  • parent associations
  • school principals
  • organizers of student clubs
  • senior citizen centers
  • and random outreach to residents via tabling

Additionally, In our emerging digital era one must assure linkages to existing digital media: neighborhood websites and listserves, Facebook, and the like.

Content Layers

Broadly speaking there will be three layers of content.

  • Communication – While connecting people to the Net is not strictly speaking a content element, and is not within the scope of a dotNeighborhood, the provision of such should be a top advocacy goal. Access and training will help assure that everyone interested is able to use the dotNeighborhood’s resources. Information about these resources should be highlighted.
  • Collaborative Memory – A neighborhood wiki (think Wikipedia) providing information about local resources and history is a fundamental component of a successful neighborhood site. While the site’s organizers can provide some fundamental resources, the dotNeighborhood’s success depends on the active engagement of a multitude of neighborhood residents. The Davis Wiki is the best example we’ve seen of this sort. Davis, California is a college town of 65,000 with a 25%  population turnover each year. The Davis Wiki preserves a community memory of resources and traditions. School, health, housing, safety, voting, shopping, restaurant, and government services can be detailed and maintained on a wiki. Training is important to a successful wiki, and making training arrangements with the local branch library presents the best prospect for assuring long term support.
  • Decision Making – The developer should provide the capacity to surface issues and opportunities of interest to the neighborhood. Discussion boards and listserves should connect residents and facilitate conversations. Selection tools should enable residents to decide on desired paths, with planning and organizing features enabling follow through on decisions. Your Priorities is an open source decision support system that has demonstrated some success.


Neighborhood maps provide scope and perspective. Many layers should be provided:

  • Streets
  • Bus, cab, and bike lanes
  • Parks
  • Digital access centers – libraries, schools, Wi-fi hot spots
  • Zoning
  • Retail
  • Health facilities
  • Political
  • Historic

See these Stamen maps for inspiration. If practicable, Open Street Map should be used.


Site information will come from official sources and the neighborhood’s residents via a wiki.The IoT (Internet of Things) will provide updates on air quality, traffic, and the status of city services. This information will vary by neighborhood but should include:

  • ­A neighborhood map
  • Demographics­
  • Neighborhood history
  • ­School­s
  • Parks
  • Hospitals
  • Government offices – police, fire, elected representatives
  • 311 and crime statistics
  • Local businesses
  • Hospitals, health services, and 24-hour pharmacies
  • Vistas, landmarks, monuments, and points of interest
  • Museums and cultural centers
  • Religious centers
  • Restaurants, bars, night spots
  • Local cuisine and fast food
  • Civic organizations and clubs
  • Bus, cab, bike maps
  • Visitors blog and fun facts
  • Flea markets and barter networks

Additionally, city regulatory requirements set forth in the Licensing Agreement will need to be provided.


A collaborative calendar will prove popular and a key component of a vibrant neighborhood.

Civic Applications

Sites should provide features that enable residents to identify, discuss, decide, and address personal and neighborhood concerns. Commercial versions of the following are readily available, with versions having a civic vantage emerging.

  • Discussion forums offering preference indication
  • The ability to form Issue-Communities for sub neighborhoods
  • Issue identification, decision making, and collaboration tools
  • Sustainability programs that encourage reuse and recycling
  • A collaborative calendar of event­s
  • Local paid and volunteer jobs
  • Neighbors helping neighbors where assistance can be offered and requested
  • A capacity to map events

Training Sites

Sites for training residents include should be presented in calendar and map formats. Venues include:

  • Libraries
  • Schools
  • Public wi-fi areas (parks, plazas…)
  • Retail Internet access providers
  • Senior centers

Local Sensitivities

One of the more difficult decisions residents must make about the dotNeighborhood is how to deal with sensitive materials – the prurient, the political, and commercial content on the system. Additionally, as we move deeper into the digital future, privacy, security, and other vital issues will be of increasing concern to residents. Our Mojo page on governance page focuses on ways to handle such materials.


There are three readily available information sources for many neighborhoods. The first is Wikipedia, where dozens of New York City Neighborhoods have entries. Second, NYCwiki, a 2010-12 joint experiment by Wikimedia-NY, The New York Internet Society, and Connecting.nyc Inc. that sought to test the viability of the wiki for gathering local information. Finally, the city Office of Innovation has provides access to several databases and helpful APIs.

The Mojo Pages: