New York fires up big data

A new method for prioritizing potential fire risk in New York City using big data has been introduced by the city’s Fire Department. According to reports, this aligns with a national trend toward to make city services more efficient by identifying properties and buildings that are more likely to have a fire. Certain factors include average neighborhood income, the age of the building, and whether it has electrical issues. Analysts at the city’s Fire Department say they have now catalogued 60 of these factors in a database that ranks buildings in order of their risk of fire, using the results to decide which ones get inspected first.  An algorithm has been built that assigns each one of the city’s 330,000 inspectable buildings with a risk score. This means when fire officers go on weekly inspections, the computer produces a sheet with a list of buildings, ranked by their risk score, that they should visit first. In the past, New York’s firefighters inspected high-priority buildings such as schools and libraries more frequently, with random inspections elsewhere. The new system should reduce the number and severity of fires, according to the department.