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The limits of big data in the big city
Jun 05, 2013 Galyna K
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http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/02/opinion/sunday/the-limits-of-big-data-in-the-big-city.html

The point is not that software is useless. But like anything else in a city, it’s only as useful as its ability to facilitate the messy clash of real human beings and their myriad interests and opinions. And often, it’s the simpler software, the technology that merely puts people in contact and steps out of the way, that works best.

Even San Francisco, one of the most technophilic towns in America, understands the limits of “smart city” technology. It has a chief innovation officer, Jay Nath, and sponsors “hackathons” to develop software to, say, bring more fresh produce to the underserved Central Market area. But Mr. Nath talks proudly of how San Franciscans helped retool taxi-dispatch systems by meeting in person. “We decided to do an ‘unhackathon,’ ” he told me. “And we had about 100 people from our community” at the meeting.


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