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Projects Use Phone Data to Track Public Services

By JOSHUA BRUSTEIN, June 5, 2011


When New Yorkers head underground, they cannot always be sure of what awaits them. The city’s subway system can be mysterious, with daily delays resulting from minor emergencies, track work and other events in the tunnels that riders know they will never truly understand.

The city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority has been trying to provide a better sense of predictability in recent years by adding displays in stations that state when the next train is expected. Now, a Web development firm called Densebrain says that it can do the same thing at practically no cost, by analyzing how people lose phone service when they head underground.