Can Data Help Boston Improve its Nightlife?

Boston is considering regulatory changes that would extend the hours of late night services like alcohol sales and transit. An editorial in the Boston Globe recommends a data-driven approach for deciding where to implement the nightlife experiment.

"The MBTA is once again testing out late-night service, Boston is piloting late-night food trucks, and Mayor Walsh’s Late Night Task Force is designing a trial program to allow some bars and restaurants to stay open after 2 a.m.," writes Edward Glaeser for the Boston Globe. The tricky question, however, is "[where] should all this activity in the wee hours be allowed?"

Instead of locating the experiment in a single neighborhood and increasing the likeliness of alco-commuting, Glaeser recommends a data-driven approach to deciding where to allow new late night activity, even citing some examples of data sets that could help determine the first locations for the city's experiment:

"With a proper treatment and control sample, the city would be able to measure the impact of later nights on crime and neighborhood disruptions. Local residents can be surveyed on the Web while the experiment is ongoing. The Police Department could step up spot checks of late-night drivers to see whether there is an increase in drunken driving. Heat maps of Twitter can measure if late-night areas see an upsurge in tech-savvy night owls."

Full Story: Better nightlife through experimentation

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