Data revolution is big chance for NYC's small businesses

Crain's New York Business
In the past, large multi-nationals like Macy’s and Starbucks have used big data to make strategic decisions for new stores, but smaller retail companies were typically left out.

Many of these smaller stores in New York City couldn’t afford to buy this information, or they didn’t have the knowledge of how to use it, putting them at a disadvantage.

But that’s about to change for all businesses in New York City.

Earlier this summer, the mayor’s office quietly expanded its Open Data initiative with the goal of creating a fully searchable database that allows New Yorkers to search everything from construction permits to rat infestations to graffiti trends.

The vision behind the initiative was to use crowdsourcing as a way to solve public-service issues and develop better solutions for the city, according to It has evolved into what I would call the biggest underutilized resource in business.

This new open-data movement will have a tremendous amount of data that can help nearly any New York City business—small or large—compete with the biggest names in business.

For example, the city has a graffiti database that tracks graffiti, providing a prescient look at a community's future. Sophisticated real estate investors know that a decline in graffiti is an excellent leading indicator of increases of property value and helps identify neighborhoods poised ripe for investment, but small realtors or homebuyers might never think of scrutinizing this data.
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