Waffle House analytics for storms

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Most southerners are aware that our ubiquitous Waffle House restaurants are a leading indicator of how bad and widespread a weather phenomena may be.  Waffle Houses are 24-hour operations and most of them have backup power.  In times of storms they often are the only refuge for people who have to be out and about, most other places may be closed.

wafflehouse_panorama1

 

This phenomenon is so serious that more than 10 years ago, emergency managers noticed it and began using it as an indicator of what they were facing.  There was a three-way code developed for Waffle Houses, green for fully open, yellow for limited menu and red for closed.  If a Waffle House is closed, it’s definitely a “red” indicator for the community.

 

It’s interesting the indicators that can be tracked by analytics.  Popular Science has an article in its November issue that includes the Waffle House indicator as well as a number of other “off-the-wall” ones tracked.  For example, economists at Vanderbilt University used the price of Big Macs to “evaluate economic differences among countries that use the Euro and those that use their own currencies.”

 

Analytics indicators are everywhere.  It’s interesting that data scientists are catching up to them with modern technology.  We southerners already knew if the Waffle House wasn’t open, it was a very bad day indeed!

–Warren B. Causey

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