Big Data Brings Big Benefits to Bloomberg's New York

Alan Feuer profiles the work of New York City's Office of Policy and Strategic Planning, a "geek squad of civic-minded number-crunchers" turning the city's trove of digital data into actionable information.

"Data — or Big Data, as quantitative analysts will call it — is the tool du jour for tech-savvy companies that have realized that lurking in the vast pools of unprocessed information in their networks are solutions to some of today’s most pressing and convoluted problems," explains Feuer of the emerging field.

"Now the city has brought this quantitative method to the exceedingly complicated machine that is New York. For the modest sum of $1 million, and at a moment when decreasing budgets have required increased efficiency, the in-house geek squad has over the last three years leveraged the power of computers to double the city’s hit rate in finding stores selling bootleg cigarettes; sped the removal of trees destroyed by Hurricane Sandy; and helped steer overburdened housing inspectors — working with more than 20,000 options — directly to lawbreaking buildings where catastrophic fires were likeliest to occur."

“I think of us as the Get Stuff Done Folks,” Michael Flowers who oversees the group, said. “All we do is take and process massive amounts of information and use it to do things more effectively.”

Full Story: The Mayor’s Geek Squad

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