Thanks to data analytics, the New York City Fire Department (FDNY) has gone from reacting to fires to anticipating them. The New York City Fire Department (FDNY) has gone from reacting to fires to anticipating them. No, it doesn’t have a crystal ball, but it does have data, algorithms and predictive analytics on its side. The FDNY has taken paper-based information from building inspections and built a database that can be analyzed based on a risk-scoring algorithm to help anticipate a potential building fire. The predictive tool works because the data is clean and the system shares information from other departments.
City fire departments aren’t the only agencies taking advantage of analytics. The technology can be found in police departments, economic development efforts, public works, permitting, utilities and public transit, to name a few.
Fueling the growth is the explosion in data collection taking place in cities, whether it’s data from sensors or from unstructured sources, such as Web forms and video. At the same time, cities are under pressure to release the data and make it available to the public, creating new opportunities to analyze what was once hidden from view. Just as important, analytics technology is becoming cheaper to own, faster to use and better at complex problem solving, making it more valuable....