This NYC BigApps Finalist Helps You Make Sense of the NYC Park System and its 1700 Parks



Do you know how many parks there are in NYC? Actually, the city has more than 1,700 parks, playgrounds, and recreation facilities across the five boroughs, and each and every one offers something different.A finalist in the live and play category, Explore NYC Parks, with this mobile-friendly web-app, enables users to find information on parks closest to them, filter parks by offered amenities, find upcoming events and get suggestions for park adventures.

So, where do you want to go today?

Founder Andrew Glass fills us in on where to park it.

Tell us about the product.

ExploreNYCparks is the best way to find, learn about and explore   NYC’s public parks. You can find the parks that are closest to an address. You can search for parks with specific facilities (e.g. tennis courts, kayak rentals, basketball). You can browse upcoming park events, and you can explore suggestions for park activities. It’s available now as a responsive website at explorenycparks.com and will be available as a mobile app on the iOS and Android platforms soon.

How is it different?

It’s the easiest and most user friendly way to explore NYC’s incredible collection of parks. The official parks site has a wealth of information, but it’s a pain to navigate, especially on mobile devices. Yelp offers some information about NYC’s parks, but it doesn’t provide a comprehensive list of parks nor does it allow you to filter by facilities. ExploreNYCparks can easily show you the closest basketball court on a map, help you discover a great picnic spot you may have never known about, or display where free concerts are happening this week.

What market are you attacking and how big is it?

ExploreNYCparks is a resource primarily for NYC residents (8+ million), but it also will be a valuable resource for commuters (600k+ daily) and visitors (50+ million annually).

What’s the second most popular park in New York City?

Brooklyn Bridge Park is incredible.  It’s spacious (85 acres), right on the water (1.3 miles along the East River) and has incredible views of lower Manhattan.  The park is loaded with top quality facilities: basketball courts, barbecues, kayak rentals, delicious eateries, a roller skating rink and amazing (typically free) unique events.  If you haven’t been, check it out before summer is over.

What is the business model?

The short-term plan is to grow the user base, solicit feedback and refine the functionality while I wait for the results of the Big Apps competition.  At the same time, I’m assessing the viability of three revenue models: 1) licensing the site to NYC Parks and Recreation, enabling them to curate additional content, 2) licensing the technology to other municipalities, and 3) incorporating ads, particularly geo-targeting on the mobile version.

Tell us about your experience with NYC Big Apps thus far.

It’s been amazing to see other like-minded people dedicated to improving the lives of New Yorkers via technology.  I’ve met some extremely inspiring and talented people.  I love building technology because I love building tools that help people.  It’s been great to meet people who share this mindset.


Andrew Glass

In which category is your app and why is your app the best in that category?

ExploreNYCparks is in both the Live and Play categories.  The key evaluation criteria for Big Apps is “impact on NYC residents and visitors.” ExploreNYCparks will have an enormous impact on residents and visitors by making NYC’s parks system more accessible and engaging.  While this may seem trivial at face value, shared spaces are integral to what makes a city special, especially New York City.  They create communities and provide a place for all, regardless of background or socio-economic status, to relax and play.

Frederick Law Olmsted, the designer of Central Park, once said that the establishment of great parks is a “public duty.” New York City has lived up to this responsibility investing hundreds of millions of dollars in upgrading and maintaining our amazing facilities, yet the parks system lacks a cutting-edge online tool to communicate this information.

Improving our experience accessing public parks can yield enormous returns in improving the lives of New Yorkers.

Why is New York the place to launch your particular app?

New York has the best public parks in the world (extremely biased opinion).  We’ve got hundreds of parks with amazing facilities and tons of unique events happening daily.  This summer, I attended an Andrew Bird concert in Central Park, played kayak-polo in the East River (I didn’t know it was a sport, either) and learned about urban farming on Randall’s Island.  It’s amazing that the city offers these diverse public services and it’s a unique opportunity to help New Yorkers utilize them.

What would winning NYC Big Apps mean for your company?

It would be enormous.  The press from winning would have an enormous impact in growing my user base. The prize money would enable me to invest capital in marketing and infrastructure improvements to the app.  It would also give me credibility as I approach other municipalities that may want to license this product. It would be a huge momentum boost to build something really great.

If you could be put in touch with one investor in the New York community who would it be and why?

Definitely Gary Vaynerchuk.  He understands that being in this field isn’t about leveraging technology: it’s about building new ways to interact with and help people.    Many people overlook this important context.  Additionally, I respect his love for the NY Jets, that he is passionate, and that he curses liberally and unabashedly.

What’s your favorite summer time beach destination close to NYC?

I grew up on Long Island, so I love whenever I can head out to Montauk, especially with my family. It’s got beautiful, clean beaches and some really incredible state parks with great bike paths.

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