A survey conducted by MIT and published by the New York Post has declared that Brighton Beach is the third most dangerous looking neighborhood in the city, outraging City Council candidate Igor Oberman. In a press release, Oberman slammed the study as “preposterous.”
The Post described how the results of the survey, gathered by non-New Yorkers from Google Street View images, were compiled:
Researchers at MIT’s Media Lab program asked thousands of people online to compare dozens of street images around the city then note which ones look most wealthy, safe and dangerous.
They then crunched numbers to compile “class rank” and “safety rank” of neighborhoods in New York City, Boston and Salzburg, Austria.
Their goal was to compare “perception of safety” vs. actual safety based on visual cues and crime stats.
It found that people are generally right about their snap judgments about rich and poor areas.
Brighton Beach was ranked the third most “dangerous looking” neighborhood in the city, coming in behind Greenpoint and East New York. Prospect Heights won high marks as being the “richest” and “safest” looking neighborhood in the city. Canarsie made the list as third most “poorest looking” neighborhood, coming in behind Greenpoint and East New York.
Oberman expressed outrage at the report and thought the New York Post was doing the neighborhood a disservice by publishing it:
“The classification of Brighton Beach as the most dangerous looking neighborhood in New York City is absolutely preposterous,” Oberman said in the release, “The survey only takes into account street images gathered throughout the City. It fails to capture the vibrant local businesses and charming residents of the Brighton Beach community. Brighton Beach is a thriving center of economic development that attracts the greatest people our city has to offer. Quite frankly, it is irresponsible for the New York Post to propagate such an untruthful notion about a community that has been through so much after Hurricane Sandy.”
I do think Oberman has a point. The study was based on brief superficial glances made by non-New Yorkers. On the one hand, the opinions of those participants are likely to be unbiased because they probably have little idea of the reality of those neighborhoods. Still, because of that fact, such judgments should be taken with a grain of salt.
Do you think the neighborhood looks dangerous? When you bring friends from out of town to Brighton Beach, do they feel like they are in a dangerous neighborhood? Let us know.
Update (6:26 p.m.): Apparently Oberman’s primary opponent Theresa Scavo, beat him to the punch by several days. On August 17, she tweeted, “It is an insult that the NY Post calls Brighton Beach dangerous looking, I feel safe there.”