Data-in-Motion: Creating “Data Drills” to Improve Real-Time Inter-Agency Emergency Response

Problem Statement: Helping city residents prepare for and deal with major emergencies and disasters is the primary purpose of many City of New York agencies. The use of data in order to provide situational awareness to these agencies, as well as city leadership, is critical. This requires the sharing of correct data at the speed of thought such that an agency can effectively plan for, respond to, and rebuild after an emergency.

Research Objectives: Develop data-sharing protocols and analytics solutions that can be used in a number of emergency management scenarios.

Background/Context: Preparing for and responding to major emergencies is a primary objective of several New York City government agencies. Agile and facile data sharing is crucial to crisis decision-making, public communication, and multi-organizational coordination. Emergencies activate City resources in often novel ways, forcing the creation of new data and workflows that may not have existed prior. They prompt unanticipated questions—think: where are all private swimming pools in Brooklyn?—that the City had never needed to systematically ask. “Analytics-in-motion” is the process of mobilizing data to answer these new questions in the face of rapidly evolving circumstances, conflicting or incomplete information, and new demands.

Methods: The “data drill” process will establish data priorities across agencies; verify that agencies can access a data sharing platform; collect requested data from a select group of agencies; integrate the data using a common identifier; determine reporting metrics; and develop a reporting schedule. Interaction between agencies will be by phone, e-mail, and in-person to simulate actual conditions during an emergency activation.

Partners and Collaborators

NYC Mayor's Office of Data Analytics, NYC Office of Emergency Management

Team Members

Awais Malik, Yuan Lai, Bartosz Bonczak, Kristin Korsberg, Boyeong Hong, Martin Traunmuller, Constantine Kontokosta


MacArthur Foundation