From an article entitled “The Mayor’s Geek Squad” in today’s New York Times:
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
- Helped steer overburdened housing inspectors—working with more than 20,000 options—directly to lawbreaking buildings where catastrophic fires were likeliest to occur.
I love reading things like this. Is it still early in the Big Data game? Of course, but we’re seeing results every day.
Government should do more than less.
As I write in Too Big to Ignore, regardless of your political affiliation, we all want–nay, need–government to do more with less. Recently, we have seen the rise of Big Data solutions, free public datasets, and an awareness of the power of Big Data. Against this backdrop, it’s time to start questioning many fundamental things–including the business of government.
Government can do more than less. Strike that. Government should do more than less. The default question should be: Can we use data to improve how we do things.
What say you?