About Planning Labs

We build open, impactful technology products at the NYC Department of City Planning.

What is Planning Labs?

Planning Labs is a division of the NYC Department of City Planning (DCP) that embraces open technology, agile development, and user-centered design to build impactful products with NYC’s Urban Planners.

We are inspired by the mission and successes of 18F, and are applying a similar philosophy at a much smaller scale within our agency.


Our Core Values

We strive to work in a modern way and use best practices on all our projects. Here’s what that means to us:

Open by Default

Planning Labs is committed to openness and transparency, and all activities will be open by default. We will adopt the open source policy of 18F as a foundational set of principles to build upon.

Build With, Not For

Planning Labs is a design partner, working closely with its customers in visioning and agile development. Customers are expected to provide resources for the duration of a product build, and will be heavily involved in sprint planning, testing and acceptance.

Ship Early, Ship Often

Planning Labs’ preferred projects will yield a minimum viable product in 4-6 weeks, providing a rapid cadence and the opportunity to work on diverse projects and problems across the agency.

Document and Disseminate

Planning Labs will place a high priority on documentation and outward messaging in support of its mission to promote modern technology best practices, and will manage its own content to include general information about the team’s mission and work program, blogging, docs, and social media engagement.

Read the full text of our charter on GitHub.


Our Team

Chris Whong: Director

Chris developed the concept for Planning Labs in 2017, after leading the development of modern, open mapping applications in DCP’s Capital Planning Division. He is an urbanist, open data advocate, civic technologist, and a former Code for America Brigade leader.

Andy Cochran: Designer

Andy joined the founding team of Planning Labs in July, 2017 after implementing New York City Council’s plan for digital inclusion and open government. As Design & Creative Director at OpenPlans, he built collaborative mapping services and other civic engagement tools.

Matt Gardner: Developer

Matt joined Planning Labs as a founding member in July, 2017 after creating digital solutions for the City of Boston’s Summer Youth Employment Program. He also helped establish the Metropolitan Area Planning Council’s Digital Services division, the first of its kind in regional planning.

Hannah Kates: Product Manager

Hannah joined Labs in Sept 2018, after working for two years in NYC Planning’s Capital Planning division where she led planning/process reforms focused on siting City facilities. She also developed core NYC Planning databases and product managed the creation of the NYC Facilities Explorer.

Taylor McGinnis: Developer Intern

Taylor joined Planning Labs in June 2018, after creating data visualizations as a Fellow for the Pratt Center for Community Development. Originally introduced to mapping as an environmental geologist, she now works as a developer and web mapper focused on open data and city planning issues.


History

Planning Labs was established in June 2017 by DCP civic technologist Chris Whong, with planning and guidance from Danny Fuchs, Director of Capital Planning, Hassan Adekoya, CIO, and Jon Kaufman, COO. After a year of experimentation and success building the Capital Planning Platform using a 100% open source stack, a pitch was made to institutionalize modern development practices in the agency by establishing a service delivery unit within the Information Technology Division. Planning Labs’ mission would be to build lightweight impactful tools with the agency’s divisions as clients, and to be open, vocal, and inclusive about the modern technologies and processes used.