Wireframe for Project Snow Job

Data-Driven Journalism

Wireframe for Project Snow Job

Jane Sasseen and Kevin R. Convey

28 Nov. 2012

We propose to comb the city’s 311 complaint records to try to map street snow-clearance complaints either from last winter or from the last several winters to see which neighborhoods of New York City generate the most complaints on the subject, and thus, we infer, get the worst service from the city.

As winter settles in and the temperature drops, residents of the city’s five boroughs brace themselves for the inevitable: the first big snowstorm of the year and the accompanying blizzard of complaints about snow clearance along the city’s thousands of miles of roads.

Clearly, the city’s street-clearing performance is both a barometer of mayoral competence and a thermometer measuring the patience of snowbound city residents. The city’s epic fail during 2010’s “Snowmageddon” storm, for example produced an extraordinary mea culpa from Mayor Michael Bloomberg:

And a barrage of snarky tweets:

Some residents see conspiracies: Was the mayor’s upper-east-side townhouse plowed out first? Other see socio-economic favoritism: How come the city’s poorest neighborhoods always seem to be the last to see a snowplow? And others see only incompetence: Can’t this city do anything right? We intend to comb and chart the data to see if any of these ideas hold water, or whether another explanation suggests itself.

First, let’s take a look at the socioeconomic piece — a stacked bar chart showing median family income by community district compared with complaints:

We’ll draw some conclusions and possibly break this chart into five borough charts.

Now let’s map CDs, complaints and median family income together:

So now we either see that this is true and City Hall houses a bunch of evil bastards who hate poor people. Or, we see that it is not true and we explode a long-standing urban myth that poor neighborhoods always get the shaft when it comes to services.

Mayoral spokesman said, blah, blah, blah. Public Advocate Bill DiBlasio said blah, blah. And City Council President Christine Quinn said, blah, blah.

Either way, we’re done, and now we can all go home for Christmas dinner.