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GCN : October 2013
6 GCN OCTOBER 2013 • GCN.COM ers and hope by chance to catch someone pouring the contents of a deep fryer into the street. MODA was able to compile data from the Business Integrity Commission, which certifies that all local restaurants have a carting service to haul away their grease. Through several quick calcula- tions the team compared restaurants that did not have a carter with geo-spatial data on the sewers. Then they were able to give inspectors a list of statistically likely sus- pects. The whole data-driven approach is suc- cessful because the eight-member MODA team has worked closely with its agency partners to ensure that their requirements are being met. "If you don't do this you might come up with solutions that don't make sense or ones that people do not have the resources to implement," said Lauren Talbot, chief programming analyst with MODA. "All of the agencies are focused on deliv- ering high-quality services" and embrace solutions such as analytics that can help them better provide core services, said Chris Corcoran, deputy analytics officer with MODA. The DataBridge is a combination of technologies. The foundation is a data warehouse with a suite of SAS Analytic tools and data fusion software from Palan- tir. Agencies can patch in data from their sources and perform analysis on that in- formation, Corcoran said. In addition to putting data in one place, MODA uses a geocoding system that lets the team as- sociate geoidentifiers with addresses and other geographic information. This allows data from multiple agencies to be merged BY RUTRELL YASIN New York City is taking urban predictive data analytics to new heights. The most populous city in the United States --- with 8 million residents --- faces huge fiscal challenges, which is driving city officials to make tough decisions on which citizen services to support. How- ever, an eight-member team of data ana- lysts is helping agencies apply data and analytics to better manage and allocate those resources. Dubbed the "Mayor's Geek Squad," members of The Mayor's Office of Data Analytics have created the DataBridge, a common data source from which agencies can access and extract a trove of agency regulatory data. DataBridge unites formerly stove-piped information on a single platform, allowing for cross-departmental data analysis from 40 different agencies. By applying analyt- ics, MODA finds previously unknown pat- terns and relationships that lead to better decisions and resource allocation. Over the past three years the squad has doubled the city's hit rate in finding stores selling bootleg cigarettes, accelerated the removal of trees destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and directed housing and fire in- spectors to structures that have been ille- gally sub-divided or are at risk of catching fire. Last fall, officials with the city's De- partment of Environmental Protection cracked down on restaurants that were il- legally dumping cooking oil into sewers in their neighborhoods, clogging up drains in the process. The health department typically would send inspectors to res- taurants on blocks with backed-up sew- A bridge to everywhere NYC Geek Squad's DataBridge pools info from 40 agencies to prioritize inspections, services "Public safety can be viewed in a more intelligent way." --- CHRIS CORCORAN, MODA PROJECT AT A GLANCE PROJECT: DataBridge and analytics warehouse OFFICE/DIVISION/TEAM: New York Mayor s O ce of Data Analytics TECHNOLOGY USED: SAS Analytics for data analysis; Oracle database as a foundation for the warehouse; Palantir s data fusion software COST: $1 million for initial infrastructure BY THE NUMBERS: 50,000 Fire Code building inspections annually 200 inspectors 13 percent of inspections found high-risk condition before DataBridge 70 to 80 percent of inspections find high- risk conditions after DataBridge