Welcome to another installment of Data Tells a Story, in which we round up our latest favorite data stories. This week: fighting fire with data; nature versus nurture; and texting when you’re not supposed to.
The NYC Fire Department (FDNY) has been mining data to better predict where fires may start. Organizing data from city agencies into about 60 risk factors, their system creates lists of buildings that are most at-risk.
Before implementing their data mining system, the FDNY kept all of their inspections records on paper and stored at each firehouse, “so there was no way to share information among other fire companies, battalions or divisions.” Now they have a data warehouse that the whole department can access.
The system has also streamlined the FDNY’s inspections process. For about 350,000 buildings, each unit makes 26 different kinds of inspections, which were originally tracked on clipboards. Now the entire inspection workflow has been automated and statistics are collected.
Researchers of University of Queensland in Australia have attempted to answer that age-old question: is it nature or nurture? Their answer: it’s both.
Teaming with scientists at the VU University of Amsterdam, the researchers reviewed nearly every twin study from around the world in the past 50 years, which involved more than 14.5 million pairs of twins and 17,804 traits. Their findings showed that “the variation for human traits and diseases is 49 per cent genetic, and 51 per cent due to environmental factors and/or measurement errors.”
While almost all 50 states have laws that explicitly ban texting while driving, a study from Braun Research has shown that drivers also email, check Facebook, and take photos while behind the wheel.
The market research firm conducted a phone survey with over 2,000 smart-phone owning drivers aged 16 to 65. Sixty-one percent admitted to texting while driving, and 33 percent to emailing. Browsing the Internet and using Facebook are neck-and-neck at 28 and 27 percent, respectively.
At the same time, most people surveyed realized that using their phones while driving was dangerous. Only 27 percent thought they could take video safely, while over 78 percent considered texting or emailing while driving as a “very serious threat to safety.”
There still isn’t a lot of data on how dangerous simultaneous driving and smartphone-using is. Very few people want to admit that their accidents were caused by being distracted by their phones, and as a result such accidents are underreported. However, a recent study by AAA showed, via footage captured by in-vehicle cameras, that 12 percent of teen drivers involved in accidents were using phones at the time.
Good news, parents: you’re not using your phone in front of your kids as much as you think you are.
Researchers collected 33 hours of data at various North Seattle playgrounds, tracking how long caregivers used their phones as well as conducting interviews. Their findings showed that while 44 percent of parents and caregivers worry about excessive phone usage in front of their charges, the majority spent less than five percent of their time on their phones on the playground, while 41 percent didn’t use their phones at all.
Those who did use their phones did so for a short time: almost 30 percent of usages were less than 10 seconds long and more than half were less than one minute.
However, researchers also discovered that during phone usage, it was difficult for children to get their caregivers’ attention. In 18 cases the adult didn’t respond at all to the child, while in 70 instances of a child trying to get the attention of an adult not on the phone, the child usually got a quick reply.
A study has shown that the majority of hirers make their decisions in the first 15 minutes of the interview.
Looking at 600 30-minute interviews with college and graduate students, the researchers also found that less than 5% of interviewers decided in the first minute, and about a quarter decided in the first five minutes, debunking the myth that most hiring decisions are made in five minutes or less.
Other revelations included: a longer interview is better in that it gives the applicant the chance to “break through subjective filters” and for the interviewer to get more information; interviewers who made small talk decided more quickly, perhaps relying on emotion and gut instinct; and those who interviewed in a more structured way took longer to decide.
Even order matters. Being fourth “seems to offer the best chance of having a substantive interview,” while being near the end hurts your chances.