What Should Our Next “Crowdsourcing” Project Be?

Friday, August 03, 2007

You counted the cars and SUVs on your block, what’s the next act of journalism we should commit together? We'll take your calls and comments.

Comments [49]

Gene from NYC

NY State officials refuse to release information on whether "fire-safe" cigarettes-- required by law--are involved in recent fires--including the Deutsche Bank fire that killed 2 firemen.

An investigation would be:

1. Are "loosies" being sold in your local stores?

2. How much do they cost?

3. Are they fire-safe?

There are some important considerations to this project, but this is the basic outline.

Oct. 13 2007 01:30 PM
Dan from Midtown East

Our office building brought in a consultant to tell us how to seperate our recycling into paper, plastic and garbage, but at the end of the day it all leaves the office in the same bin. Maybe we could 'crowdsource' statistics on how many office buildings aren't really recycling.

Aug. 21 2007 04:51 PM
John from Staten Island

Maybe a topic for CrowdSourcing in the healthcare area:
. Nursing Homes in your area, are the Nursing Homes full to capacity,
providing good care. The NYS Department of Health website now has a databbase of the
complaints for hospitals for public access, maybe these facilities as well.

. Emergency Rooms - the crowding, how long for a patient to actually see a
health professional
. Insured vs Uninsured

Aug. 04 2007 01:35 PM
James from Manhattan

Plenty of great ideas, but John from Queens has my vote. Compare common grocery/household items by boro, nabe, and retailer. Maybe add a column to tally the # of mclaren/bugaboos in the store.

Aug. 03 2007 06:06 PM
Sandra from Bronx

1) How about counting the number of LIVING trees on each block and then the number that are DYING from neglect!


2) The number of obese people in line at Mc Donald's, Dunkin' Donuts, Popeye's etc...

BTW, I LOVE John's suggestion to report borough price variation--an excellent cup of kawfee (i.e. NYC coffee) in my nabe is only 65 cents! Top that!!!

Oh, and while we are counting the number of expensive stollers, let's also count the number of overfed, overgroomed dogs, number of stretch limos and number of people wearing (real) Rolex watches!

Aug. 03 2007 05:22 PM
james akers from great barrington, ma (berkshires)

I don't watch a lot of TV, but when I do, and esp. with the kids, I am always tempted to informally inventory and analyze the nature of the ads, i.e. how many car commercials, how many MacDonalds ads, etc. in a given half hour ofprogramming. It would be revealing to discover as a "crowd" which products and companies are pummeling us, and by extension, what are we taking so "for granted" as our needs, as defined by corporate interests?

Aug. 03 2007 01:31 PM
Brian from Manhattan

DITTO Marina's suggestion:

How many stores leave their doors open while the A/C blasts onto the street. After the summer blackout of 2003 I embarked upon my own study--walking down 5th Ave. and up 6th Ave. to start--counting how many stores were such offenders. I don't recall the numbers, but it was substantial. The big department and designer label stores were the biggest offenders.

Guess a cool blast of air is an effective way to lure hot, sweaty pedestrians in to become customers--but is it morally right when the power grid is so finnicky?

Aug. 03 2007 01:06 PM
Bryan from CT

Count the number of unwanted flyers/takeout menus in your hallways and doorways

Aug. 03 2007 12:41 PM
John O'Leary from Upper West Side


Aug. 03 2007 12:41 PM
Kinehawa Magisoko from LIC

Let's count bodegas or Korean markets.

Aug. 03 2007 12:39 PM
Tim Jones from Brooklyn

Let's count the doodies we have to step over on the street. What in depth analysis can we bring to bear upon the pooperscooper law since its inception? Let's replay an endless loop of Hillary soundclips, too, just so people will know its NYC.

Aug. 03 2007 12:37 PM
tom from astoria

A crowdsourcing issue that I hear people share all the time is: the tearing down beautiful old homes in all areas around the city, and the gutting of really significant historical buildings in Manhattan. Block by block I can count 2 or three homes on nearly every block here in Astoria going down (where zoning laws have been changed); People are eager to share stories when the topic comes up.
I hear mournful stories of this same phenomenon in many, many other neighborhoods -- like Flushing, being torn down on a wide scale to make way for ugly new housing which does not fit with the neighborhood, in fact it destroys the historical reality of significant places. I am in process of fighting the zoning changes before they migrate to other areas here in Astoria.
Also, how about the monumental changes taking place in Manhattan: Cranes are looming over empty lots everywhere! What was there? Imagine the block long Pennsylvania Hotel going down (scheduled for demo), the Plaza is being gutted, the Stanhope, the Old Bank of New York on Wall St., significant Ladies' Mile stores on 6th Ave...the list goes on. Buildings are demolished, really important ones are gutted -- forever destroying those historical interiors. Just look at the Plaza Hotel -- where Cary Grant once had a place among the traditional plaster detailed rooms. Floors and walls are being ripped out. Right now a 100 ft. sign announces, "Coming soon: PRIVATE RESIDENCES."

Aug. 03 2007 12:29 PM
Patrick from Brooklyn

Let's look at a citywide quality of life issue such as the amount of graffitti. This was a big issue years ago, both in the Giuliani and Bloomberg administrations, and we were told the problem was addressed. But, it sure looks like it's here again with a vengeance.

Aug. 03 2007 12:12 PM
Claud from New York

about that lady with the "degradable" plastic bag --

when i was in college we nailed a degradable plastic bag to the side of the house, just to see what would happen to it. after a year it was in perfect condition (disclaimer -- the house was in buffalo, so technically the bag was frozen for 6 months ;)

Aug. 03 2007 12:05 PM
Kevin J. Lynch from LV, NJ

In 1 15 minute period (while getting gas in my car) I counted 36 out of 40 cars with people using cell phones. 3 of the 36 were using hands free devices, so 33 of the 40 were holding thier phone while driving. This was about a block away from a school, with a police officer visable to direct traffic.

Aug. 03 2007 12:04 PM
Jeffrey Slott from Queens, NY

I don't know whether this should be carried out by your listeners or by you. As someone who finds the act of cigarette smoking disgusting and stupid enough, I've always wondered why cigarette smokers, for the most part, tend to smoke the foulest smelling ones. I know there are cigarettes that don't stink as much as Camels or Marlboros but they seem to be the least indulged in. Perhaps you or your listeners could ask smokers why they choose to smoke the worst of the worse.

Aug. 03 2007 12:04 PM
Naoko from Osaka, Japan

How about counting a number of people who are e-mailing via a blackberry or a mobile phone on the train? The number would definitely be very high in my city, Osaka, Japan. So I'd love to know situation in NYC!

Aug. 03 2007 12:01 PM
Solomon Mowshowitz from West End Avenue & 99th Street

1. The number of construction sheds. Construction sheds are on something like half the buildings around here. I know that falling masonry is a problem, but I wonder how many sheds fell on people.

2. Empty commercial property. The big store on the Southwest corner of 97th & Broadway has been vacant for over 5 years. What commercial sense does that make?


Aug. 03 2007 12:01 PM
Steven from Jackson Heights

To follow up on the recent NY Times article about the high school principal changing a failing senior's grade in order to allow her to graduate. As a middle school teacher in NYC I have experienced the same situation several times over the past three years. Could you anonymously poll NYC public school teachers to find out exactly how prevalent this is?

Aug. 03 2007 12:01 PM
Richard Storm from Hell's Kitchen

Since congestion pricing is on people's minds, count how many double-parked vehicles you see in a fifteen-minute walk through New York City (with or without drivers at the wheel).

Report the time period, the general area (Manhattan, 14th Street between 8th Ave. and Union Square, for example), and the number of double-parked vehicles.

Aug. 03 2007 11:58 AM
Val from Brooklyn

How about taking note of how many times police break traffic laws for no apparent reason, like running a red light when not in an emergency.

Aug. 03 2007 11:58 AM

something a bit different:

everyone contribute one favorite recipe. It would be particularly interesting if its a an family recipe. Given the diversity of your audience, you could end up with an amazing cookbook!

Aug. 03 2007 11:58 AM
Taylor from Manhattan

Survey of quality and consistency of communication services within and around the city, i.e. cable/ internet service, cell phone reception, radio reception, even electricity failures... Within this very small geographic area, there is a huge range in quality of service. Where are the dead spots?

Aug. 03 2007 11:57 AM
Neal from Port Washington

Where I live no one stops for STOP signs. Does anyone stop for a STOP sign anymore?

Aug. 03 2007 11:56 AM
Laura from Manhattan

How about reporting restaurants that have their windows/doors wide open with air conditioning flowing out on very hot days? I think the mayor was thinking of outlawing this practice. I noticed recently that PJ Harvey's at Lincoln Center and Blue Water Grill at Union Square are both guilty of leaving windows wide open with their air conditioning on.

Aug. 03 2007 11:56 AM
Marina from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Let's survey how many stores are leaving their doors and blasting air-conditioning into the street.

Aug. 03 2007 11:56 AM
David from Brooklyn

It seems that one building a week is being demolished in Greenpoint and Williamsburg to make way for Condos.

What happened to the 40% low income housing? Who is buying the condos? What anecdotes do neighbors or purchasers have? Real estate brokers, developers? The displaced?

Aug. 03 2007 11:56 AM
Richard Storm from Hell's Kitchen

In a fifteen minute period walking around New York during the week, how many double-parked cars do you see?

Report the time of the observation, the general area (14th Street between 8th Ave. and Union Square, for example) and the number of cars double-parked.

Aug. 03 2007 11:55 AM
Marina from Park Slope, Brooklyn

Let's survey how many stores are leaving their doors open and blasting air-conditioning into the street?

Aug. 03 2007 11:55 AM
melly from Queens

How about the base minimum wage of restaurant workers?

Aug. 03 2007 11:55 AM
Brian from Manhattan

How about the number of times (in a week) your normal subway service was interrupted, delayed, or detoured.

1) day(s) of the week
2) time of day
3) nature of delay (re-routed, no service, local vs. express, bus service subsitute)
4) time added to your commute

For those of us who work on weekends or late at night, it would be interesting to see the percentage of service inconveniences encountered in order to propose a "reduced fare for reduced service" concept to the MTA

Aug. 03 2007 11:52 AM
Courtney from downtown

how about calculating the percentage of maclaren baby strollers to "other" strollers in ones neighborhood? it seems to me that it's pretty necessary to have a $400 stroller for your baby to hack it as a new york parent.

Aug. 03 2007 11:52 AM
Frederica from Manhattan

I'm also obsessed with eco-measures: What about counting how many food stores and food places (Zabar's, Whole Foods, Pizza parlors, etc.), where you can consume foods, have differentiated trash bins. I personally asked Zabar's manager to put bins for plastic bottles etc. in the corner food parlor, he promised he would... and HE DIDN'T. This is my personal crusade, but I'd love for other New Yorkers to join me and help! Thank you

Aug. 03 2007 11:52 AM

How about the # of people you see listening to iPods in public places (subway, @ the park, maybe even your gym).

I think this is interesting b/c I believe the devices limit social interactions, which in turn prevent people from meeting those who they might've approached for conversation, etc.

Aug. 03 2007 11:51 AM

How about counting the number of homeless people on our block

Aug. 03 2007 11:51 AM
Tom Brennan

With the retaining wall collapse on the development of Park West Village and the more severe bridge collapse in Minnesota, maybe we could do something on obvious construction safety violations in neighborhoods. The city is being developed everywhere -- particularly in Columbus Avenue and Brooklyn -- let's see how concerned they really are about the safety of the neighborhoods.

Aug. 03 2007 11:51 AM
Domenico Romero from Brooklyn, NY

how about checking the salaries of the people that provide a lot of services we take? at the deli, bus driver, your nanny, etc. We would get a good picture of the big differences between wages that exist in the city.

Aug. 03 2007 11:50 AM
Robert from NYC

How many bicycles riding at full speed on the sidewalks. I've written the mayor's office numerous times about getting this problem in hand but it seems to continue. I fully respect bicyclers riding in the street and respect their rights to go if the light is in their favor, I wait for them to go by. I understand the dangers for them. But on the sidewalk is really a problem especially for elderly or some physically challenged folks.

Aug. 03 2007 11:50 AM
John from Manhattan

How about a "Citizen's Bridge Inspection" Project? :)

Aug. 03 2007 11:50 AM
JJLevine from nj

Crime stats by neighborhood.

Talk about a secret database waiting to be exposed via the internet.

Aug. 03 2007 11:49 AM
Richard from Brooklyn

how about a count of the vehicles parked on city streets that are from out-of-state?

Aug. 03 2007 11:48 AM
CH from NYC

Two suggestions:

1.) Perhaps a project related to the noise pollution issues? Maybe we could count, over a weekend (or a full week), how many real noise offences impact our lives (e.g. motorcycles, barking dogs, horns and car alarms).

There would have to be real, constructive guidelines for judging the noise levels. (For instance: I find "leaking earphone syndrome" and subway-car and ferry religious proselytizing to be offensive noise, but these would not meet the noise threshold set out earlier this summer.)

2.) A count of the number of people exhibiting improper bike etiquette such as riding on sidewalks, running traffic lights at busy intersections, traffic weaving, and wrong-way riding.

Biking to "go green" and to improve fitness is a wonderful thing, but many city bikers (and visitors) abuse the rules and forget that a bicycle is a VEHICLE and subject to traffic controls. Some of us do walk and rude bikers are a nuisance and a danger (multiplied by thousands during bike events which take the rest of the city hostage for the day).

Aug. 03 2007 11:15 AM
Claire from Queens

For parents at the start of Sept: How many in students in your child's class?

Aug. 03 2007 11:05 AM
Brian from Manhattan

How about counting the eyesore of "permanent scaffolding" (in place for more than 1yr in front of existing buildings) that has advertising posted on it? ...Or something similar.

I though there was a law against selling ad space on construction scaffolding and for scaffolding to remain in place for more than a certain period of time--yet it seems much scaffolding remains for years sporting major billboards -- i.e. becoming a "permanent" part of the cityscape.

Maybe the ad revenues outweigh the fines making it a lucrative business model, but it degrades taxpaying-residents' quality of life. Does anyone agree?

Aug. 03 2007 11:00 AM
John from Queens, NY 11385

Have common grocery items that everyone buys priced in all boros to see how widely prices vary in the NYC area and discuss why.

Aug. 03 2007 10:52 AM
Dick from Orange,NJ

Since it was brought up in the film making segment
what about those oversize strollers that sweep small dogs of into the street, drive pedestrians to the perimeters of the pavement, and block access to stores.
How many are trolling our area?
How often are they truly in the way?
How many of the kids being pushed around look od enough to walk (or maybe even drive)?

I grew up in the city and as torturous it was to walk with my mother on a hot day it did involve me in city life rather than being pushed through it.
I also developed a love for walking and powerful leg muscles and have since walked the AT and walked from Ohio to Denver,CO, s

Aug. 03 2007 10:51 AM
Brian from Manhattan

Since we've already got our training wheels with cars and pollution is a major reason cited for the mayor's congestion pricing plan, why not count:

How many people are sitting in their cars IDLING while waiting for the street cleaner to go by in the morning?

It would be easy enough to apply some average CO2 emission rates to this number to estimate the tonnage of pollution attributed solely to ASP rules.

Aug. 03 2007 10:49 AM
Helen from Westchester

how about a count of the number of people in grocery stores who bring their own reusable bags for groceries rather than using the stores plastic or paper bags.

Aug. 03 2007 10:48 AM

Perhaps some form of counting how many plastic bags you see people carrying in a short period of time. Or water bottles.

Aug. 03 2007 10:32 AM

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