Watch the NEW YORK TIMES PLAYLIST, a NEW YORK CITY neighborhood watch application that uses artificial intelligence to discover and play local news, music, and other content from the New Jersey Public Library’s online archives.
“It’s like discovering a new neighborhood,” said Rob Boulton, an engineer at New Jersey’s Department of Information Technology and Community Development who developed the app.
“We’re finding content that’s never been found before.”
The app uses machine learning algorithms to search the NYPL’s library database for content, then generates an index of articles based on that content and the location of specific people and businesses.
It then matches each article to the neighborhood it describes.
“You can get the same content from any local neighborhood in New Jersey,” Boulon said.
“But when you get a new article, it’s just different.”
Boulson’s team created the app in response to the city’s efforts to make neighborhood information more accessible to New Yorkers.
In April, the city announced a $1 million pilot program to help libraries and community centers digitize public records.
The initiative aims to streamline public information requests for documents and documents that might otherwise be held in digital databases.
For example, in the past, it might have taken years for a local government to request public records, but in the pilot, the information would be available in the library system’s databases in as little as five minutes.
“I think that’s one of the things that’s really important to us,” Bourn said.
The app’s creators are using machine learning to scan the public records database for news and local news articles.
It also uses natural language processing to find a person’s address based on their phone number, and uses facial recognition to match images of a person to a person with the same face to a face.
The results are then combined with other information to create a personalized news app that uses the library’s digital archives.
The project has attracted praise from community advocates, including Newark’s Community Voices Board chairman and the New Brunswick Public Library board’s director of library services.
“The ability to discover new and relevant local content in real-time is very exciting for Newark residents, and we want to help them make sense of the news,” said Board President Mark Hays, who chairs Newark’s Public Library Board of Directors.
“This is the next step for Newark to build a better library for all of New Jersey.”
The library also plans to test the app’s capabilities with its online archive, which will allow it to provide news and other information about specific people, businesses, and neighborhoods.
“As we’ve grown, the library has been unable to provide a digital database of the local community and its people,” said Elizabeth E. Buehler, vice president of programming for the New Jerseyan Libraries.
“Through this pilot, we can continue to provide information that Newarkers have been asking for.”
The application is available on Apple and Google’s mobile apps and on Google’s video app.
For more information, visit www.newjersey.gov/library.