New York City's Data Collection Chopped in Half

New York City has for decades collected data about itself through more than 2,500 statistical indicators. But now, that number has been chopped down to about 1,200. Officials say it creates a streamlined look at the city, but others call it a loss.
September 11, 2009, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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The city stopped producing its report with the complete 2,500 statistical indicators last year, and some in the city feel the missing data leaves part of the city's story untold -- and unable to be affected by relevant policies.

"'Just because a data element has been collected for 30 years doesn't make it a useful data element,' said Jeffrey A. Kay, the director of the Mayor's Office of Operations, who oversees the publication of the Mayor's Management Report. 'We inherited about 2,500 indicators. We then pared it down to about 1,200. And that's pretty much what we have today.'

But critics say many of the indicators that were eliminated were important measures of the city's performance - and said they were surprised that statistics were pared under a mayor who believes that quantitative measurements are crucial to solving problems.

'There are some significant statistics that have dropped out,' said Doug Turetsky, a spokesman for the nonpartisan Independent Budget Office. He cited statistics on drunken driving arrests, the total number of runs by Fire Department vehicles and arrests for violating orders of protection."

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Published on Thursday, September 10, 2009 in The New York Times
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