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Microsoft maps New York’s complainers

I’m moaning Herehere
Tue Mar 11 2014, 12:22

ASPIRING MAP MAKER Microsoft has decided to map the opinions on New Yorkers and pin their gripes to their locations.

The Redmond firm's researchers have developed Herehere, a complaint cataloguer, and launched it on the hardboiled streets of New York, New York. The firm reckoned that over time it will build up a view of the community.

Microsoft said that "hyperlocal engagement" would "encourage civic response". We think that it might put people off certain areas and funnel others to other locations. Microsoft has provided an image to suggest how this manifests itself. We learn that somewhere has "no asbestos issues" somewhere else does not feel safe, and another location has bad traffic.

"Herehere NYC introduces daily neighbourhood engagement with a light touch," said Kati London, head of the Herehere project.

"It takes neighborhood-specific public data, and it enables the neighbourhoods to communicate how they're doing-expressed through text and cartoonlike icons.

"People can receive the information via a daily email digest, neighborhood-specific Twitter feeds, or status updates on an online map. We want to understand how it changes or impacts the way people relate to their community when they can interact with data in this way.

"Think of it as a meta-status update for the day - a simplification of issues in your neighbourhood compressed into a text that you might get from a friend," added London.

There are 42 New York City locations covered, and the firm thinks that it will boil down the mood of the city into a digestible format with a friendly, occasionally ratlike, face. The data is culled from the 311 phone number in New York City, which is the state's contact number for non-emergency communications.

"The idea is that we are inundated with all kinds of data in our lives, and it's overwhelming. Characterisation helps bring immediacy and a human scale to information," said London.

"When the Lower East Side says it's totally cool with a few vermin complaints, we're giving a human voice to the neighborhood which, hopefully, will stimulate conversations about issues." µ


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