Your neighborhood. It’s the place where you see family and friends. Where you spend time alone with your thoughts. It’s where you live, and where you dream. Your neighborhood is your home. Help us make it the place you want it to be.

The SAFElab at Columbia University is helping the Mayor’s Office of the City of New York to better understand the needs of the people who live in your neighborhood. By talking directly to you and your neighbors, and listening to your experiences and ideas, we can help improve the public services that your neighborhood receives from the city.

Please take a few minutes to learn more.


We believe that the right city services—delivered in the right way and at the right time—can improve quality of life, elevate overall health and well-being, and make the places we call home safer to live in. Our purpose is to help communities like yours across New York City by learning more about your needs, and advising city services about how they can become more effective, efficient, and timely.


Our goal is to strengthen your community, deepen the mutual understanding of everyone who lives there, improve its overall healthiness, and provide greater safety for it, all through the improvement of city services. This all begins with listening to you. Once we have collected your thoughts, we will use a combination of culture, communication, artificial intelligence technology, and human-centered design to build a tool that helps New York City government agencies to better serve you and your neighbors.


We believe that the work we do can have a profound impact on everyone who lives in these neighborhoods. We know that our work needs to begin with building the trust necessary to do our work, so it is important that our motivations and intentions are clearly and fully articulated.

We will do our work openly, publishing our findings, reports, and recommendations on public platforms. We will make sure that you and your neighbors can easily stay up to date with our progress—while maintaining the privacy of everyone involved in the project.

The information we are gathering comes from the personal stories of people like you. In return for this openness, you have a right to expect that we will safeguard your information and identity: We will do this in all possible ways, such as making sure your input is completely anonymous and by keeping all project information on secured servers.

About the Project

This is a project is funded by the New York City Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice, in partnership with John Jay College, Columbia University, University of Chicago, National Innovation Service, and Proper Villains. It is being conducted over a two-year period, and is focused on the people who live in 15 neighborhoods across the city:

  • Bedford-Stuyvesant
  • Brownsville
  • Canarsie
  • Central Harlem
  • Claremont
  • East Concourse
  • East Harlem
  • East New York
  • Forest Hills
  • Morrisania
  • Rockaways
  • Queensbridge
  • Red Hook
  • Stapleton
  • Washington Heights

Getting Involved

Do you want to get involved? Be part of a safe and transparent process that will amplify your voice and improve the lives of everyone in your neighborhood. We want to hear from you!

Everyone selected for an interview will receive a $50 gift card in appreciation for their time and stories.

About the Interview

We will be asking questions regarding public safety, quality of life, institutional trust, COVID-19 and anti-Black racism.

  • Interviews will be conducted by Columbia University researchers and affiliates.
  • Interviews will mostly take place via phone or Zoom videoconferencing.
  • All interviews will be recorded for research and will be stored in a password protected database. Your interview(s) recordings will be destroyed upon completion of the study procedures.
  • If you do not feel comfortable being recorded or interviewed through Zoom, interviews can be conducted via phone or in-person where interviewers will utilize a handheld recording device(s).
  • In instances where interviews take place in person, they will be done in private rooms or locations of your choice.

Project Privacy Policy

Your privacy is important to us. Here is how we will protect your identity and what you share with us.

  • Interviews will mostly take place via phone or Zoom. This is your choice.
  • In instances where interviews take place in person they will be done in private rooms or locations of the your choice.
  • All identifiable data will be stored in a secure password-protected environment with access granted to only eligible study staff. Any and all identifiers will be removed before communicating any study results.
  • Interview recording(s) will be stored in a password protected database, and will be destroyed upon completion of the study procedures.
  • All project files will be held on secure and encrypted servers with access restricted to designated personnel.
  • All files and storage devices containing study data will be retained for at least five years. Once it is decided that the study data are no longer needed, the electronic data will be permanently erased.

Project Consent Form

We are asking you to take part in a research study sponsored by Columbia University’s School of Social Work, School of Engineering and Applied Science and Data Science Institute and the Research and Evaluation Center (REC) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The purpose of this consent form is to give you the information you will need to help you decide whether or not to participant in the study. Please read the form carefully. We encourage you to ask questions about the purpose of the research, requirements for involvement in the study, the possible risks and benefits, your rights as a volunteer, and anything else about the research or this form that is not clear. When all your questions have been answered, you can decide if you want to be in the study or not. This process is called ‘informed consent.’

Download Consent Form (pdf)

Project Team

Key Partners

Safelab at Columbia University

The John Jay Research and Evaluation Center

NORC at the University of Chicago

National Innovation Service

Proper Villains


Reach Out

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more, please click Get in Touch or send an email to: safelabcolumbia@gmail.com


We are committed to transparency, and to making sure that you know about our work each step along the way. During the course of this project, we will publish numerous pieces about our progress that will give you the latest updates. Please check back here for the current list.