Is Detroit’s Data More Open?

DETROITography

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Almost half the “datasets” that the City of Detroit released are simplified duplicates of larger datasets or visualizations. In truth the city released about 46 datasets, about half of the “over 90” datasets that were announced. Out of the 46 actual datasets released, only 28 are new datasets that couldn’t already be found at the old City of Detroit GIS page, Data Driven Detroit (D3), or DetroitData.org. This is still an incredible gain for open data. I just don’t understand the reason behind inflating the numbers.

After years of a substandard webpage with download links to GIS files, the City of Detroit entered the modern open data era with a Socrata data platform supported (read: free) from their new Socrata Foundation. The city has been trumpeting that it has released over 90 datasets to the public. This would be an incredible feat in a formerly bankrupt government with multiple departments spread…

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Major outbreak of AT&T disables population, no end in sight

Recently, I have come down with a serious case of AT&T. The last time this happened was in 2010 and both times it lasted over 3 weeks. What is AT&T and how can one acquire it, simply by attempting to access reliable internet service from the telecom giant known as American Telephone & Telegraph company.

Here were my common Symptoms:

  • Desire to tear out hair when hearing digital voices
  • Outbursts when encountering elevator music
  • Serious mental fatigue from being on hold (often referred to as “fried brain”)
  • Aversion to calling any “helpdesk”

My most recent case of AT&T lasted for 3 weeks and ended in a very unsatisfactory conclusion. From that experience I decided to do some number crunching to compare my cases in 2010 and 2012. The measures I used were:

  1. Number of people involved in my case (direct contact)
  2. Personal time spent: on hold, waiting for technicians, and during technician visits
  3. Internet speeds promised by representatives and speeds actually accessed (only 2012)

My first measure was based on how many people that I was in direct contact with regarding my case of AT&T. Direct contact is defined as an in-person technician contact or human-over-the-phone conversation. My case in 2010 involved a high number of people because AT&T had not yet developed its digital voice system to direct “helpdesk” calls to the right place. As a result I had to talk with many people and be transferred often during my 2010 case. In 2012, the number of people I spoke with didn’t spike until my issues involved billing and my call was dropped twice (9/28). I know there were also a higher number of people dealing with my 2012 case from the main office and technical team, but had no way to track those numbers.

The company has given greater control and access to representatives to be able to deal with “helpdesk” issues, reducing the number of transfers. I am happy that I don’t have to deal with as many people, but this seems to have increased the personal time that I need to spend dealing with my case because it never reached the right people and my problem persisted.

Unfortunately, in both cases, my personal time spent managing my cases was abhorrent. My case in 2010 took almost 20 hours to reconcile with the majority of this time being spent on hold or in transfer. In 2012, my personal time went over 24 hours after being asked to block a 12 hour window for a technician to be able to come and work on my line. My 2012 case involved AT&T “chronic facility issues” which sounded like a systemic issues with poor quality internet connectivity.

It wasn’t until after the 6th technician who came out to my house told me to call billing that I was then informed that the internet speed promised during my first call (08-24-12) was completely impossible because my area was on “lock” for 6 mbps.  Three weeks, 24 hours, and the first representative I talked with couldn’t even tell me accurately what was available in my area? Shouldn’t this be basic?

A healthy dose of prevention could have saved me a lot of trouble and the company a lot of money in both my 2010 and 2012. I was compensated $370 in 2010 and roughly $280 in 2012 (not including technician pay). This telecom giant needs to be more receptive to customer needs and increase the reliability of both their “helpdesk” system to tell customers honest information and their technical systems for delivering good internet.

A study has found that American consumers are paying higher prices for slower connections. It’s an epidemic and truly there is no end in sight.