Crowdsourcing by waffle

Waffle House, a ubiquitous chain of yellow-roofed diners, is as much a fixture of Southern life as the grits, hash browns and crispy waffles that it serves all day, every day, even on Christmas. In Georgia, where the 1,600-store chain originated, it is hard to find an Interstate exit without the restaurant’s yellow block-letter sign nearby.

…federal emergency officials even use what they call the Waffle House Index to determine how severe natural disasters are in the South. If a local Waffle House is closed, along with a Home Depot or a Wal-Mart, it indicates a longer recovery process.

From a NY Times article on Waffle House crime sprees.

I wonder what they could use for early warning elsewhere. Starbucks in Oregon? Tim Horton’s in Canada? Nail salons in NYC?

2 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing by waffle

  1. I suggested a while ago that researchers in Africa could use the aggregate amount of cell phone minutes purchased each month in a given area as a quick and dirty proxy of how a local economy is trending. (Assuming they had the wherewithal to wheedle the information out of the cell phone companies.) I’ve since learned that researchers used (bottled) beer as just such a proxy. Call it the Primus or the Tusker Index.

  2. I say proportion of the taxi fleet on the road for NYC. For cabbies that work long hours, 7 days a week for a tiny profit margin nothing short of an act of God is going to keep them off the streets.