Concerns of the phoning crowd
November 9th, 2010


Wired has an article this month on What a Hundred Million Calls to 311 Reveal About New York. The article has some terrific images, like the one above, and fascinating ideas. It calls attention to a data-driven future that will be supplied through mobile devices:

A data-driven approach to urban life makes sense, because cities are in many respects problems of information management. But the problems take various forms, depending on whether you confront them as a public agency or an ordinary citizen. Governments want to know where the messes are so they can prioritize cleanups. But for city dwellers, the challenge takes a different shape, because we need to know which resource we should use to satisfy our present need. Transportation is a classic example. A pedestrian standing at any intersection in Manhattan has at least four modes of transportation to choose from: cab, bus, subway, or foot. In some cases, there are dozens of bus and subway lines within a few blocks and hundreds of taxis. Each is a potential data point—the F train that’s 12 minutes behind schedule, the six cabs looking for fares just around the corner.

One way or another, that kind of data is going to be available and flowing through our mobile devices in the near future.

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