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Meet Mike Flowers.

Over the weekend, the New York Times came out with a high-flying profile of Michael Flowers, New York City’s director of analytics. It’s an accessible piece that highlights the strides NYC is taking with data and open government. The article also make an anecdotal highlight of Mike’s work mining data to unclog Manhattan pipes filled with cooking grease. Unfortunately, they miss a key element of the story, where the rogue restaurants are connected with the city’s bio-diesel companies instead of paying for a grease hauling service.

But that’s just the beginning. Whether it’s helping building inspectors target illegal apartments or busting stores selling bootlegged cigarettes, I urge you to take a moment to acquaint yourself with a host of these use cases for analyzing city data.

It’s easy to read these headlines and think “big cities only need apply,” but when I had a chance to help frame Mike’s presentation at the 2012 Summit he was intent on spinning that idea on its head. His office has grown from one to five. His team is only able to glean actionable insight insofar as they can leverage the career experience of front line inspectors and empower the data geeks quietly hiding in city departments.

“These are government employees and they deserve my respect. That respect is translated by me directly talking to them.”

– Mike Flowers

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