Large Media Outlet Beats Up On The City Of Los Angeles For Not Running A Decent Data Warehouse

You know life is good when…

1. You are a data warehousing / Business Objects professional

AND

2. A Major media outlet like the Los Angeles Times beats up on a public municipality for *not* having a data warehouse.

I must confess that I had a bit of a sinister gleam in my eye when I read the following times article about the city of Los Angeles' data practices. According to the article, the city collects vast amounts of valuable, useful data…

but LA only keeps the valuable data for a couple of days…then discards it.

 

L.A. doesn't save data on traffic growth

City officials said they don't have traffic counts for some of the city's busiest intersections and can't say how much congestion has increased over the years

Information gathered by the city's vast signal system is kept for only a few days, limiting the city in its long-term planning.
By Sharon Bernstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

October 1, 2007

Los Angeles' traffic signal system is the envy of traffic planners around the world, recording millions of cars each year as they pass over sensors embedded in city streets.

But although the sensors and computers collect massive amounts of data about traffic patterns and congestion, they do little to help engineers plan for the city's growing transportation needs — or determine how development is affecting traffic.

That's because the city does not save the information for more than a few days, using it only to direct traffic in real time by adjusting the speed at which lights turn from green to amber to red.

Because the information is discarded, it cannot be used to determine over time where traffic is increasing — or by how much.

In fact, city officials said they don't have traffic counts for some of the city's busiest intersections — and can't say how much congestion has increased over the years

Many at City Hall believe getting better traffic data is crucial.

"It's appalling," said Councilwoman Wendy Greuel. The chronic lack of information makes it impossible to determine "where density should go and where it shouldn't go."

But city officials said that they don't know how much the boom has affected traffic, because there is little historical data.

Public awareness of the value of data is on the rise.

This is the first article that I've seen that is blatant attack on a public agency for not storing data. What the article doesn't discuss is the technical challenge of capturing traffic data for a city the size of LA. For example, what level of granularity is needed to accurately plan for the future - and how much data would this be?

Life is good when the media is on our side… 

 

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