A data scientist’s blog is revealing some statistics about New York City that are making people question how great “The City so Nice, They Named it Twice,” really is.

There was a time when data creation, and access to data was limited. Today, this is not the case. Thanks to the easy creation of data, and platforms used to disperse data, we are gaining insights about…well just about everything. Open data provides citizens with information that sometimes makes them skeptical about the cities that they live in and the rules and regulations they are expected to abide by.

Half of Manhattan is within four blocks of a Starbucks. IHOP, in NYC receives a lower restaurant inspection score than White Castle. Rent Stabilized housing is quickly disappearing, making it more difficult for the average “Joe” to live there. While the data shared in these particular posts may raise eyebrows, other posts may make you cringe. These posts typically reveal information that make people question the city’s policies, and even the representatives themselves.

data is showing us the cleanest places to eat in the city and more

Naturally, one of the posts that sparked resident’s animosity for city policies discussed parking tickets. Using open data, the blog’s author and other Big Apple residents discovered something astounding: two fire hydrants in the city were racking in $55,000 annually. Yes, these fire hydrants were making more than the average American. Nurses in New York City make roughly $8,000 less, annually than these two fire hydrants. What’s even worse is that the owners of the cars that received the violations, appeared to have parked legally. The fire hydrants were placed (done strategically?) away from the curb and even further away from the street. Some of the drivers may not have even seen the hydrant.

Open data is revealing information about how much revenue two fire hydrants in New York City earn annually Luckily, this story does not end sadly, and open data saved the day. The open data was widely shared and distributed, thanks to the Internet of Things, and residents took preventative measures. I am also guessing that the fire hydrant’s income has been greatly reduced. However, this may make many question the intentions of the local government. Some say that the fire hydrants were strategically placed, in order to receive a higher revenue from citations and tickets. Another blog post caught a “statistical error,” cited from Mayor de Blasio. The blog post, “Funny Math Fact Check: de Blasio vs. Uber,” calls the Mayor out for “faulty math.” Mayor de Blasio claimed that 2,000 new for-hire vehicles are being added to the streets of New York each month. But according to the data, this is impossible. The actual rate of increase? About half of what de Blasio claimed. To keep things hopeful, the author of the blog, Ben Wellington declares a mission to change some government policies. The skinny data nerd is trying to make open data more accessible and “cool,” so that more people will respond to the insight provided by the data. As more and more people gain insights from open data, there will be more and more pressure to create data-driven policy-making initiatives.

Open Data and Government


“Data really powers everything that we do.” 

~Jeff Weiner, chief executive of LinkedIn

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