Saturday, 5 February 2011

Back from the second snowiest month on record

NYC snow

A month or so ago I wrote a piece about the snow we had in Cardiff this Christmas. The piece was about who clears the roads and gets the city moving again. Recently me and Allie were lucky enough to go to New York. It was my first time in New York so I was interested in seeing how their service culture compared to our's. We were greeted by the second snowiest month since records began. As you can see from the picture above it was pretty big, all of the snow however had and was pretty much cleared in one evening allowing roads and pavements to be walked on and accessed the next day.

I wondered how this was possible and what had made it possible. I wondered if it had anything to do with it's service culture. Well generally it is pretty much true the service you receive is high and so different than in the UK. There are obvious reasons for this, firstly there is a tipping culture, in general 15-20% of the bill. The tipping culture has gone so far that it is seen as almost a right with people telling stories of waiters chasing after them to ask why they have not been tipped.

There are other things that seem to be reasons how the snow was cleared. Obviously there are a lot of tall buildings in New York with a number of them having a reception with someone working to take delivers and look after the general deals on the apartment block. Interestingly in New York City law residents are responsible for the pavement directly outside their house or shop. So when snow comes they have to clear it. So the mass action of the people of New York clearly has a huge effect on clearing snow quickly.

What about the roads? As well as gritting they have a number of ways they tackled the snow. Firstly they had their own city workforce and also hired in help from the private sector to further strengthen their work force. It is also interesting to see their rubbish trucks were used as snow ploughs, So instead of needing a whole set of new vehicles to deal with the snow they could use vehicles that already existed with an additional bolt on. Finally I also think the personal nature of having a mayor that seemed to be responsible for the success or failures, so people had something/someone to be represented by.

NYC snow

So that's one way to look at how mass actions can be achieved in this case through a mixture of the individual and the state. I am hoping to get out to Sweden to visit a friend soon and will be interested to see how their system differs. While all of this for me is interesting to see how people deal with the same situation. I wonder if there are also other benefits that the New York setup have instigated. Firstly their is a different feel to New York people are more social, brasher, they seem to be part of something that is only for New Yorker's.

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