WYNC Radio Uses FOIL To Open NYC Film Permit Data, After Mayor’s Office Ignores Repeated Requests From Transparency Groups


Update on February 25, 2016: MOME has announced that they plan to upload film shoot permits to the open data portal.

On February 23rd, public radio station WNYC published the location of all film shoot permits in New York City from November 2011 to July 2015. WNYC filed a series of Freedom of Information Law requests to obtain this information, which is not available on the NYC Open Data Portal, nor is it available on the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment web site. Click the picture of the map below to visit the brief article and explore the data, or go to WNYC’s GitHub page to download the data powering the map.

Screen Shot 2016-02-23 at 12.50.26 PM

We thank WNYC for publishing and mapping the data, but would like to see NYC government get this data online ASAP. The fact that the film shoot data was released by WNYC instead of MOME is embarrassing. If a data set can be FOILed, it is subject to the NYC Open Data Law. MOME should upload the spreadsheet(s) it sent to WNYC to the Open Data Portal as soon as possible.  Notably, MOME has only published two data sets since the Open Data Law was enacted – despite strenuous urging by transparency groups.

Reinvent Albany, was one of several groups which spent the first half of 2015 urging the Mayor’s Office of Movies and Entertainment to publish this day. In January 2015, we testified at a city council hearing in support of the intent of Intro 84-2015, a bill which would mandate reporting of film shoots to city council. Reinvent Albany asked that the reports be published in machine-readable format.

In April 2015, we joined with Citizens Union, League of Women Voters of New York City, the New York Public Interest Research Group, BetaNYC, and Common Cause New York to again ask for open data about film shoots in New York City. We asked MOME to publish film shoot data on the open data portal, and noted that public demand for more information about film shoots is extremely high. We also reminded MOME of its obligations under the NYC Open Data Law.

In May 2015, our groups received a response from MOME, which declined to provide open data for film shoots, saying “Productions post [paper] notices on affected blocks up to one week in advance,” and that MOME notifies the relevant district’s City Council member, community board and borough president of each film shoot. We were also advised that MOME planned to publish additional data to the open data portal, although to date they have not done so.