S51 Using 311 Data as a Proxy For Weather Impacts

Sunday, 7 January 2018
Exhibit Hall 5 (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Xuebin Zou, NOAA, New York, NY

According to the World Bank, two-thirds of the global population will lives in urban areas by 2050. The impacts of major weather events have sometimes led to huge economic losses in urban areas and impacts are projected to increase as cities grow. Using remote sensing to study weather in urban areas is challenge because urban areas are small relative to the resolutions of many satellite products. In addition, most human activity is indoors and underground, which neither satellites nor other remote sensing instruments can measure. As a substitute for these instruments, there are datasets that can potentially provide information about the local impacts of the weather. Many cities use the U.S. Federal Communications Commision code for non-emergencies (311) as a hotline for residents to report municipal issues. For example, New York City’s 311 dataset contains over a 100 million reports, many of which are potentially related to the impacts of weather events. To isolate the impacts, we aggregate over space and time to reduce the noise in the data and normalize the data to account for uneven distributions of people and complaints. We then compare the potentially weather related 311 reports with global monthly summaries of weather observations from the Global Historical Climatology Network (GHCN) to analyze the impact of weather events as reported by the residents of NYC.
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