Amazon, Race, and Same-Day Delivery

Last month Bloomberg story looked at the racial implications of Amazon’s same-day delivery service, which, the story demonstrated in a series of maps, tended to exclude predominantly black ZIP codes.

bloomberg-amazon
Atlanta (Bloomberg)

The exclusions were basically driven by the data: where their customers were, driving distance to the nearest fulfillment centre, that sort of thing. But the issue, it seems to me, is that the demographics behind the data are not racially neutral (something that Troy Lambert’s analysis for GIS Lounge, for example, fails to address): Amazon basically failed to ask its data the next question. Be very careful of why your data is the way it is. In the event, Amazon has since announced that excluded neighbourhoods and boroughs in Boston, New York and Chicago will get same-day service.

(Full disclosure: The Map Room is an Amazon associate.)

Author: Jonathan Crowe

I blog about maps at The Map Room, review books for AE: The Canadian Science Fiction Review, and edit a fanzine called Ecdysis.