The Fires

By Joe Flood,

Book cover of The Fires: How a Computer Formula, Big Ideas, and the Best of Intentions Burned Down New York City--and Determined the Future of Cities

Book description

New York City, 1968. The RAND Corporation had presented an alluring proposal to a city on the brink of economic collapse: Using RAND's computer models, which had been successfully implemented in high-level military operations, the city could save millions of dollars by establishing more efficient public services. The RAND boys…

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Why read it?

1 author picked The Fires as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

My copy of this book has so many dog-eared pages and “!”s scrawled in the margins that it’s almost ridiculous. This is the story of how, in the 1960s, New York City and the RAND Corporation used algorithmic modeling to decide where to locate fire stations in the city. It was pretty much a disaster: because of the choices the modelers made about what to measure and how to measure it, they ended up cutting services to many of the poorest neighborhoods in NYC. Joe Flood is a journalist, and it shows—this book is stunning in how it combines the…

From Karen's list on human stories about technology.

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