NYC OASIS: The Open Accessible Space Information System

The OASIS website provides the richest source of community maps for New York City – free and all in one place online. OASIS is guided by a collaborative partnership of almost 60 greening groups, educators, individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and public agencies who use online mapping technology to help sustain the city’s open spaces and visualize the nexus between community greening and broader urban planning issues.

View the interactive OASIS maps

UrbanOmnibus featured an article about major improvements to the site in 2009, and our wiki [currently offline] has updates since then.

Here are some highlights:

  • OASIS’s visitors use the website to make 1.5 million customized maps each year.
  • Of the more than 400,000 visits OASIS receives each year, 300,000 of those (more than 75%) are from returning visitors – indicating a high level of loyalty from OASIS’s users.
  • Most people visit OASIS to obtain information about individual properties – such as land use, zoning, ownership, and where a parcel is located in the neighborhood context.
  • Though many users are from professional planning organizations, other frequent visitors include educational organizations, neighborhood groups, and city agency staff.

When you visit OASIS online, here's what you'll find:

  • The geographic scope of OASIS’s maps focuses on New York City’s five boroughs, but also includes northern New Jersey and parts of western Nassau County, southern Westchester County, and portions of Fairfield County, CT.
  • OASIS integrates data from many sources, adding value to each data set by enabling visitors to view and map it in relation to parks, community gardens, subways and ferries, tax parcels, aerial photos, and several dozen other "layers" of information about the city.
  • Maps of any or all of the following features can be created from a regional view down to individual properties (image below shows all the map layers that can be displayed at OASIS, as of Fall 2007):
    • land use patterns (residential, commercial, industrial, vacant land, etc) on a parcel basis - you can view historical land use patterns from 2003 through 2010;
    • NYC park properties (including parks, playgrounds, beaches, and Greenstreets);
    • state and federal open space;
    • wetlands (tidal, freshwater, and National Wetlands Inventory areas);
    • recreational sites such as golf courses, baseball and soccer fields, and tennis/basketball courts & tracks;
    • community gardens and greenmarket sites;
    • street tree locations as surveyed by OASIS partner groups;
    • natural resource areas such as habitat sites, natural areas, and "Forever Wild" sites;
    • waterfront access locations (including boating areas, piers, and fishing spots);
    • Living Memorials projects;
    • community resources such as schools, public housing, and historic houses;
    • transit resources (subways, ferries, and the street grid);
    • aerial photos from 1996 through 2010;
    • infrared photography from 2001 displaying vegetation vs. impervious surfaces; and
    • cemeteries.
  • Detailed information about many of these features can be accessed, such as:
    • zoning, ownership, and detailed building information for each of NYC’s 900,000 tax parcels;
    • acreage and habitat protection status for more than 160 habitat sites;
    • open space profiles for the 59 NYC Community Districts including: % of Community District that is Open Space and % Tree Canopy;
    • hours of operation, types of food grown, and photos of more than 700 community gardens; and
    • lists of "Friends of…" and other groups that care for the city’s parks and playgrounds, along with contact information and links to the city’s interactive parks maps.

Projects that have been launched or supported in partnership with OASIS include:

  • Neighborhood Tree Survey
  • NYC Natural Areas project (now called New Yorkers 4 Parks)
  • Living Memorials Project
  • NY/NJ Harbor Estuary Program habitat mapping
  • Greening for Breathing local tree survey
  • Open space stewardship in NYC
  • Community garden mapping with Council on the Environment of NYC
  • Open Road of NY – mapping and urban planning with and for youth in NYC
  • Waterfront access points in New York and New Jersey with Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and NY/NJ Baykeeper
  • OASISDC Green Infrastructure collaborative

Here's how OASIS began, and how we're sustaining it:

  • Forest Service leadership: The project was initiated in 2000 with leadership and financial support from the USDA Forest Service, and has been sustained since then with Forest Service funding, foundation grants, and contributions from partner groups.
  • Pilot-project funding support: Between 2001 and 2005, the Forest Service provided more than $500,000 to develop, launch, and maintain OASIS as a pilot project. This amount was fully matched through volunteer time, equipment & software donations, free training & technical assistance, and data contributions. Other foundation grants and partner contributions helped leverage this support.
  • Sustainability: OASIS commissioned a strategic plan in 2004 that suggested several funding sources with ongoing potential in order to sustain OASIS over time, such as online sponsorship, public agency support, and joint fundraising for partner projects.
  • Ongoing support: The baseline operating costs for OASIS are currently $100,000 per year. This covers some salary and consultant expenses, technology and data costs, and operating expenses. Outreach activities, fundraising for partner activities (such as data collection, etc.), and website enhancements represent additional expenses.
  • Community involvement: The OASIS steering committee meets generally twice a year, and subcommittees (including education, stewardship, and website development) meet as needed to develop projects, share information and strategies, and create educational materials. Much of this is documented at the OASIS wiki [currently offline].