New York City Buildings 2016

The Question

How can NYC Department of Buildings develop a predictive analytical tool that can help prevent future accidents?

The Team

  • Anthony Arendt
  • Dan Bacon
  • Howaida Kamel
  • Kirsten Rulf
  • Daniel Wagner

The Story

David Wichs was a 38-year-old Harvard graduate who lived and worked in New York City. Earlier this month, while walking on Worth Street near his Manhattan home, David was killed by a falling 565-foot construction crane. He is one of 26 fatalities caused by construction accidents in NYC over the past four years.

This unfortunate accident took place on the very day we embarked upon a partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School and our client, the NYC Department of Buildings (DoB). Together, we hope to prevent fatal accidents like this one, along with the nearly 1,100 additional injuries reported this past year that were linked to NYC construction.

Throughout the semester, our team asked questions that included:

  • What leads to construction fatalities and injuries in New York City?
  • Can we predict accidents associated with construction sites, which in-turn could help the DoB focus the necessary preventative actions?
  • Does the incident data gathered by the DoB reveal any clues or patterns leading up to a mishap?
  • Are there certain indicators that we can trace back to accidents, such as types of construction projects, building typology, areas of the city or certain time periods?
  • Are there signs that tell us a construction site culture is indicative of an impending incident? And if so, how could the DoB focus on those sites?

Using Qualtrics, we built two iterations of a survey that inspectors can fill out on a tablet and that automatically links the data to the database. Alongside these prototypes, we provided the Department of Buildings with a set of actionable recommendations. They include the suggestion to hire more data analysts that can recreate our weekly safety brief and the proposal of a process for solid data collection and assessment.

We hope that our efforts will ultimately help the Department of Buildings make data-driven risk mitigation decisions, which would result in fewer construction related injuries and fatalities. 


final insights presentation

user insights presentation