I Heart “I Quant NY”

Photo from IQuantNY3-17-2016 tumblr post: New York’s Most Dangerous Neighborhood is Safer than Baltimore.

The voices of Data Science

Many may know that cartographers are using the phrase “telling the story” of a place using a map. This is not only a buzz phrase because people like stories, and especially ones about places they know, but also because it actually depicts what it purports to: giving data a voice to tell the story of site and situation.

Illustrating that sense of a place can be described by its components.

As the sum is greater than its parts, it could also be said that understanding individual parts of their own accord is a good exercise for having a better understanding of how exactly the sum is characterized.

NPR recently showcased I Quant NY – a blog dedicated to showcasing the findings of Data Scientist Ben Wellington as he wrangles and munges his way through NYC’s open data catalog.

The most interesting stories are often discovered in the least likely of datasets. Data Science challenges people to think about the multiple facets of everything.

Data Science to the Rescue

Perhaps the most exciting part of opening up data is discovering what solutions to common problems can be discovered through making good use of the data. For many entrepreneurs, this is commonly identified as “finding the pain points” – what would people pay money to not have to do anymore?

The most obvious place to start looking for pain points is in the areas where the blood of Democracy is thundering through societal veins: new industries and new policies.

New Industry Example: What possible linkage our use for Economic Development could come from utilizing Department of Motor Vehicle data – isn’t that just types of cars and locations of owners? Sure, of course it is, but it is also locations and records of alternative fuel vehicles and fleet vehicles for governments, organizations and private entities. Certainly the diversification of the energy market is tied to the Economic Development of a region that supports it. The specific needs of this burgeoning industry include an app that shows the location of all alternative fueling charging stations, preferred parking spots and other amenities designed to encourage diversification of the nation’s energy portfolio.

New Policy Example:

A few headlines from I Quant NY:

Is the NYPD About to Start Ticketing More Cyclists Due to a Mathematical Error?

The Hot Spots of New York: A Coverage Map of NYC’s Free WiFi Payphones

Found: The Brooklyn Residence that’s Farthest from the Subway

We have a request in for the creation of Costanza’s public bathroom hotspot. A joke more than anything, but an interesting thought. How would one create public bathroom data from combining a few sources.


Liberating the Data ^2

In this way there are two meanings of “Liberate The Data” – the first is the most obvious. Data collected about people, by private or public entity, can ans should be used by the collector, but should be equally and freely available about the people having data collected about them. It is essential to note that only a very select few people have access to FULL datasets that are not scrubbed of personally identifiable information (PII) – the fear about privacy and data should NOT be of the data itself, but instead about ONLY corporations having access to the data collected about you. Clearly, I digress…

Cities taking the lead and initiative for opening up their data: SF, NYC, Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Austin, Albequerque – where does your city rank in the movement – check out US City Open Data Census. Do you agree with the ratings for cities and data sources?

Some have even gotten to the step of providing a show room for the apps developed with their data:

Civic Apps for Portland, San Francisco and the state of Colorado is in its second year of a state sponsored app challenge – which addresses the ever persistent challenge of funding the never-ending maintenance of data accuracy and data currency (ie data refreshing).

States taking the lead and initiative for opening up their data: Colorado and Illinois

The other meaning of “Liberate the Data” is in the practice of telling the story, and helping people to understand the high value of information, analysis and understanding that comes accurate and reliable data. In this way there is an exponential increase in the opening and liberating of data – because it is available to developers and analysts it is transformed from data into information – thus rendering it accessible by everyone!

Wellington is not alone in the effort to generate action around the stories of different datasets. There are other individual bloggers and organizations working toward the noble goal of “Liberate^2”.

Enjoy these expressions of data science

Urban Observatory


Stamen Maps



Burrito Justice

Derek Eder

Steven Can Plan

Effortless City

City Data Company

Silver Biology




Margaret Spyker

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