Archive for the tag 'data'

Photo by Erica Sherman

I’d wager a bet that I already know the answer many of our readers will give to the question posed in our headline. But Gotham Gazette is the one asking the question, and we thought we’d get in on the action.

The news outlet dispatched more than a dozen reporters to Manhattan’s Lower East Side and Brooklyn’s Red Hook earlier this month asking that question. It’s part of a larger report that includes a more comprehensive survey that will be released in a few weeks. They live-blogged the initial responses, and the answers were fairly diverse.

Some said they were still going through it. Others expressed concern that there’s little to do to reverse rising sea levels, though others still pointed out that they were somewhat comforted by the measures they’ve taken to be better prepared and minimize damage. Several expressed confidence in the government’s mitigation projects, while others didn’t seem to know a lick about them.

That’s the Lower East Side and Red Hook. What about Southern Brooklyn? Do you feel like we’re better positioned to withstand severe weather now than we were two years ago?

Let us know in the comments, and take Gotham Gazette’s survey.

Coney Island Creek by Cropsey Avenue is the city’s most fecal-filled waterway, according to one number-crunching analyst.

Ben Wellington, a statistics professor at Pratt Institute who runs the I Quant NY blog, pulled Department of Environmental Protection water sampling data on fecal coliform around New York City. The results? The beaches along the Coney Island peninsula are clean, at least compared to the city’s crappiest waterway – the Coney Island Creek.

Fecal coliform is bacteria that forms in mammalian intestines, and is an indicator of raw sewage in the water. It gets there when storms push so much water into the sewer drains and overwhelms the sewage system, causing the DEP to release it untreated into the rivers, oceans, bays and creeks through Combined Sewer Outflows. When the beach is closed during the summer, it’s usually because there’s an unsafe amount of sewage in the water – an amount of more than 1,000 coliform per 100ml of water.

Wellington dumped all that data into a spreadsheet and began calculating the mean, minimum, median and max levels of fecal coliform at all testing sites around the city, going back to 2008. The indicator he used to determine his top 10 dirtiest locations is the percent of days sampled that were too dirty to swim.

On that top 10 list are four Southern Brooklyn locations: Coney Island Creek at Cropsey Avenue, Coney Island Creek at its entrance, the head of Bergen Basin, near JFK airport, and the mouth of Bergen Basin.

The average amount of fecal coliform in the water at the creek when tested? It was more than 37 times the amount deemed unsafe for swimming, and it was found to be unsafe 94 percent of the times it was tested. Ugh.

Wellington mapped out his results to show us the ring of shit that encircles New York City:

 I mapped the percentage of time that water levels were unsafe for swimming.  Larger circles indicate a higher percentage of unsafe days, and thus dirtier water.  Clicking on a circle gives you fuller details for that site. 

Note that the larger circles appear more inland. The conclusion?  If you are going to swim in NYC, i guess the rule of thumb is to stay away from anything with the word “creek” in its name (and of course “canal”) and head toward the rivers. 

Source: NYCIBO

Source: NYCIBO

While the news that New York City will expand speed camera enforcement across the five boroughs was met with conspiratorial sneering from local drivers, revenue data suggests that the overall amount of funds collected for traffic fines has declined every year for the past four years despite the expansion of camera-enforcement programs.

That’s not to say there’s not money being made: the city pulled in more than $55 million in fiscal year 2014 (which ended on June 30), and 75 percent of that was from camera-based enforcement. The city budget for 2015 already presumes a jump to $62 million in revenue, with an even larger percentage coming from camera enforcement.

The New York City Independent Budget Office released a new infographic yesterday that charts the amount of revenue collected from traffic fines from 1999 to the present, and also shows the share of those collections that came via police-issued violations, red-light cameras, bus-lane cameras and the newest enforcement tool: speed cameras.

Some of the takeaways?

  • The proportion of revenue generated by cameras has grown from just 38 percent in 1999 to 75 percent in 2014.
  • The amount of revenue in 2014 is nearly double that collected in 1999. (Adjusted for inflation, the jump is less stark; the increase is just under $13 million.)
  • Since 2004, actual revenue from police-issued traffic violations has been on a steady decline, marginally offsetting some of the increases from camera enforcement.
  • Red-light camera revenues are the lowest they’ve been since 2007, the year before a massive expansion of the program, suggesting that camera enforcement won’t drive revenues forever.

There are two big spikes in the graph, one in 2008 and another in 2011.

The first coincided with an increase in the number of red light cameras installed around the city. After the increase, there’s a drop again. That’s probably because once drivers figure out where the cameras are, they make sure to abide by the law.

The 2011 spike came as a result of a ruling that unpaid red light summonses can count towards the threshold needed for the city to tow your car for unpaid tickets. Delinquent motorists who saw their cars impounded had to pay back those fines that year to reclaim their vehicles.

The two newest forms of camera revenue are also seeing pretty rapid growth as drivers have yet to adjust to them. Bus-lane cameras were introduced in 2011 as part of the Select Bus Service program. As that program has steadily expanded across the five boroughs, so has the number of cameras, and thus the number of violations.

Speed cameras were introduced in early 2014, with just 20 in school zones around the city. That led to $2.1 million in fines collected. But the program has been approved for massive expansion, with 120 new cameras on the way.

The city is projecting it will put $7.6 million in city coffers, but if the historical spikes from the expansion of red light cameras are any indication, it’ll probably rake in more than that before falling off over a few years.

So is it about money? It’s anybody’s guess. There’s definitely a historical increase in revenues collected but it’s not as staggering as one would think, given the massive expansion of these programs. And the data here suggests the gains appear short-lived as drivers learn to follow the rules of the road.

Here’s the above chart in an interactive format. Hover over each of the bars to see how much actual revenue was received for each method:

A 2012 collision on Bedford Avenue and Emmons Avenue, which neighbors say is a common occurrence. (Photo: Tom Paolillo)

The New York Police Department has been busy this year. In February, the number of tickets issued across the city for traffic violations have gone up. But things look different in our local 61st Precinct, which covers Sheepshead Bay, Gravesend, Kings Highway, Homecrest, Madison, Manhattan Beach and Gerritsen Beach.

In this area there has been no increase or decrease in the number of tickets drivers received in February 2014 when compared to the number issued in February 2013, according to an analysis of the NYPD’s data by WNYC. It has stayed a consistent 65, while most precincts in the city have seen drastic increases during the first month of Vision Zero policy implementation.

Bay Ridge’s 68th Precinct, for example, shot up 169 percent. Bed-Stuy’s 79th Precinct increased a whopping 322 percent.

According to a WNYC analysis, the increase is due to the fact that “most precincts stepped up enforcement of speeding, failure to yield to pedestrians, and failure to stop at traffic signals.” The ramped up enforcement is part of the policy implementation of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Vision Zero plan, which aims to reduce traffic-related fatalities. As part of the plan, officers are called on to increase enforcement against the most dangerous kinds of violations.

In February 2014, the NYPD reported 220 collisions in the 61st Precinct. There was only one fatality, a man who was struck and killed by a private plow in front of the Oceana complex in Brighton Beach.

In a new community newsletter to be produced monthly by the 61st Precinct, the local command announced that traffic enforcement would ramp up in the neighborhood, with a particular focus on locations with a history of pedestrian-related accidents.

They wrote:

In accordance with Mayor De Blasio’s “Vision Zero” campaign, one of the top priorities of the New York City Police Department is to reduce injuries and deaths resulting from motor vehicle collisions. Officers on patrol will focus enforcement related to keeping pedestrians and motorists safe by issuing summonses that include the failure to stop at stop signs and red lights, as well as the failure to yield to pedestrians.

Our current top pedestrian related collision location is the intersection of Coney Island Avenue and Avenue Z. Our partnership with the community includes sharing vital information so that our friends, family and neighbors will remain safe.


Click to enlarge

The New York City Housing Recovery recently released the above infographic, showing the number of registrations for Build it Back. These are the final numbers now that registration for the program is closed.

Along with the Build it Back, the agency also released the number of homes fixed up by Rapid Repairs, have had mold removed by city-run programs, or were demolished by the city. All of these are broken down by impact zones – the six waterfront areas most impacted by the storm, and accounting for a total of 61,793 buildings (many of which are multi-family residences, so the number of households is likely higher).

The numbers tell a story in themselves. While they don’t quite deliver insight into the extent of damage into each neighborhood – a fairly ephemeral impact that’s hard to quantify and even harder to wrap one’s head around – they do show us how active these programs are in particular neighborhoods, and we can draw some conclusions from that.

So let’s get started.

Read on as we break down the numbers, and tease out the story of Brooklyn’s Sandy recovery.

The glorious, old Penn Station, before it was demolished to make room for the hideous monstrosity we know today. Source: Wikipedia

The glorious, old Penn Station, before it was demolished to make room for the hideous monstrosity we know today. Source: Wikipedia

THE COMMUTE: Much of what I was taught in school was either useless or not true. I spent several years studying algebra, which I actually liked, but only had occasion to use it about six times in the 46 years since I graduated high school. Meanwhile, no one ever taught me stuff I need to know in life, such as how to pick a fresh mango. The fruit lady near where I used to work would reject a half a dozen mangoes before choosing the perfect one for me. I should have asked her for her secret.

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You might have thought that the wonderful utopia of Sheepshead Bay was somehow free of the stop-and-frisk controversies igniting throughout New York City. You’d be wrong. New statistics released this morning by the NYPD show that, much like in the rest of the five boroughs, officers from the 61st Precinct are stopping and frisking black men and women at a rate that’s disproportionate to the size of the population.

The NYPD surprised observers this morning by releasing the 2011 figures in a detailed report. The report shows the total number of stops per precinct, the top suspected crime accounting for the stops, and the race of the persons stopped compared to their percentage of the precinct’s population using 2010 census numbers.

Although the vast majority of stops in the 61st Precinct were of white residents, at 49.4 percent, the number comes up short when compared to the number of white residents living in the neighborhood – 72.8 percent.

Conversely, black residents comprise only 3.4 percent of the precinct’s population, yet they accounted for 28.5 percent of the stops. Likewise, Hispanics accounted for 18.8 percent of stop-and-frisks in an around Sheepshead Bay, and yet they only make up 8.3 percent of the neighborhood’s population.

And although they’re the second-largest demographic in the area, at 15.5 percent, Asians were largely left alone by cops. Three-point-three percent of people stopped-and-frisked were Asian.

Read the report and more analysis of the local stop-and-frisk numbers.

Source: Mephell/

According to a report by, a research and consulting organization, 64 percent of Americans are woefully unprepared for a major natural disaster, even after the events of Hurricane Sandy, Hurricane Katrina, and a series of other major natural disasters smacking us around in recent years.

The report finds that people making disaster-readiness plans has slightly increased from 31 percent to 36 percent since 2011, showing that the majority of Americans have failed to adequately prepare themselves in the event of another major disaster. This is the breakdown of YouGov’s numbers,

Of the 36 percent who said they were equipped for natural disasters, their preparations included the following:

  • Emergency supplies (for example, flashlights or first-aid kits): 89 percent
  • Food stocks: 74 percent
  • Creating an evacuation or an emergency plan: 50 percent
  • Disaster insurance: 22 percent

Of the 89 percent who had emergency supplies, their supplies included the following:

  • Flashlights:  97 percent
  • Water:  92 percent
  • First-aid kits or medicine:  92 percent
  • Sleeping bags or blankets:  83 percent
  • Face masks: 18 percent
  • Iodine pills:  15 percent

While general preparedness is low, concern and fear over another natural disaster has increased, especially across the Northeast, where 31 percent report that they are “very concerned” following Hurricane Sand, doubled from the previous year’s report of 17 percent concern in polling done after Tropical Storm Irene, the highest percentage in the country.

A lot of people have prognosticated in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy that this was finally the storm that got everyone’s attention, and that in the future, people will be more prepared for the advent of another natural catastrophe. I’m not so sure. While Sandy’s devastation was massive and destabilizing, only time will tell how New Yorkers will prepare and respond, both personally, and politically, should another superstorm come to wreck our city.

We in Southern Brooklyn are no strangers to healthcare fraud.

We’ve got the Midwood couple that allegedly collected more than $108,000 in benefits, while living it up in lavish homes and luxury automobiles.

We’ve got the Brighton Beach proctologist that billed for more procedures than any other proctologist in the nation – many of which, prosecutors say, were bogus, including charging more than $60,000 for 85 hemorrhoidectomies on a single patient in 20 months.

We’ve got bogus pharmacies – allegedly, of course – and a slew of local operations swept up in the two largest medical fraud busts in the nation’s history.

In fact, the number of busts around here suggests that our area may just have the highest rates of healthcare fraud, per capita, in the nation. But what’s it costing American taxpayers?

About $80 billion a year, with Medicare fraud alone expected to cost $1 trillion over the next decade, according to a new infographic produced by

See the infographic after the jump to understand the sheer scale of medical fraud in the nation, how it happens, and where that lost revenue could be better used.

WNYC took it upon themselves to map all of the street stops – a.k.a. stop and frisks – using information from the police department showcasing where guns were recovered last year, since firearm control has been the primary justification for the controversial tactic. The map reveals that, in Sheepshead Bay, the NYPD has turned up no firearms in the areas in which NYPD has concentrated its use of stop-and-frisk tactics.

In Sheepshead Bay, police made 1,324 stops in the Sheepshead Bay-Nostrand Housing projects. Yet only two guns were found in the 61st Precinct’s command, and neither were in the vicinity of the projects.

Two guns were found, however; one at the Log Cabin at 2123 Avenue Z, and the other during a random sidewalk stop near the Kings Bay fields, at Voorhies Avenue and Bragg Street.

Public Advocate and mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has been saying that stop-and-frisk needs reform because it fosters a distrust between citizens and police officials. Others note that it is a major waste of public resources.

Those sentiments have been echoed by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, also a mayoral candidate. Stringer points out that the city is on track to stop and frisk more than 700,000 people this year, of which 85 percent are black and Latino males. Yet only seven percent of stops lead to an arrest, and less than one percent for gun-related charges.

Further, legal advocacy groups like the New York Civil Liberties Union deem stop-and-frisk as “racial profiling.”

An NYCLU analysis revealed that New Yorkers (mostly black or Latino) have been subjected to police stops and street interrogations more than 4 million times since 2002, and that nearly nine out of 10 stopped-and-frisked New Yorkers were innocent.

Commissioner Raymond Kelly and Mayor Michael Bloomberg say that stop-and-frisk is meant to get illegal guns out of the streets and criminals behind bars.

“You hear all the time from people who don’t like stop-and-frisk. But you know what people really hate in New York City, and always have? Guns,” said Kelly.

Current data shows that out of 685,000 stops in 2011, about 770 guns were recovered. This means that only one tenth of one percent of all stops resulted in cops finding a gun.

Supporters of the stop-and-frisk procedures say that the police concentrate their hubs of activity where violent crimes are most often reported, and that it is crime, not gun recoveries, which determine where police officers go. Also, because police saturate certain areas, this becomes a deterrent for carrying a firearm.

Similar results to those found at the Sheepshead-Nostrand Houses were also found at the Marlboro Houses, as well as areas citywide in which the city focuses its stop-and-frisk efforts.

What do you think? Are current stop-and-frisk tactics effective?

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