Intelligent City Chapter for Atlas of Cities

ICMy chapter on Intelligent Cities will appear in the Atlas of Cities (Princeton University Press) edited by Paul L. Knox (Virginia Tech).

A city, like any organization, thrives or fails depending on its ability to process signals from its environment. Cities have long been subject to shocks because the information systems designed to signal impending events in their internal or external environments were inadequate. The management of infrastructures, processes, and events within a city has traditionally been inefficient or ineffective because of an inability to harness data toward real-time decision-making. This has led to significant wastage of scarce resources and squandering of opportunities. Furthermore, until recently most citizens have been passive recipients of plans and programs devised by their elected officials. As the population in cities has exploded, the leveraging of the collective intelligence of diverse citizens toward the betterment of the city has remained elusive as a result of poorly designed participatory platforms—for example, the town hall meetings that are often used to solicit input but impose significant barriers on the participation of citizens. Urban planners and designers have historically focused on innovating for citizens rather than with citizens, or, better, providing citizens with the resources and capabilities to innovate for themselves.

Today, following advances in communication and computational technologies, cities are harnessing data and information with a view to becoming more “intelligent.” The adoption of mobile technologies and the diffusion of Internet connectivity has made information accessible to most individuals, even the poorest of the poor. Cities are embedding a wide assortment of technologies within their physical and social spheres so as to enable real-time processing of data to further the goal of smarter decision-making. In addition, cities are liberating data that was previously withheld from the public. Open data programs exist in many major cities through which data on a wide variety of operations and governance mechanisms are being made available. Citizens, in turn, are playing a more active role in shaping the future of their environments. Citizens are not only creating mobile apps that promote smarter ways of traversing the city and conducting various functions, but are also building online participatory platforms so as to source problems and solutions from their fellow dwellers and better manage public goods.

My chapter contains seven spreads that cover key elements of intelligent cities:

  1. Liberating Data
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Sustainability
  4. Mobility
  5. Entrepreneurship
  6. Quality of Life
  7. Living Labs

The core city that I focused on is London and the secondary cities are Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, Abu Dhabi, San Francisco, Boston, and Amsterdam.

Open Innovation in the Public Sector – Challenge.Gov – Public Administration Review

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Ines Mergel and I have a paper accepted in Public Administration Review

Implementing Open Innovation in the Public Sector:
The Case of Challenge.Gov

As part of the Open Government Initiative (OGI), the Obama administration has called for new forms of collaboration with stakeholders to increase innovativeness of public service delivery. Federal managers can utilize Challenge.gov to crowdsource solutions from previously untapped problem solvers and leverage collective intelligence to tackle complex social and technical public management problems. We highlight the work conducted by the Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies at the General Services Administration (GSA), the administrator of the Challenge.gov platform. Specifically, we feature the work of Tammi Marcoullier, Program Manager, Challenge.gov, and Karen Trebon Deputy Program Manager for Challenge.gov, and their role as change agents mediating collaborative practices between policy makers and public agencies in navigating the political and legal challenges within their local agencies. We provide insights into the implementation process of crowdsourcing solutions for public management problems as well as lessons learned designing open innovation processes in the public sector.

National Science Foundation Grant – Hybrid Challenge Platforms to Promote Innovation

NSF Along with my colleagues at Arizona State University, I have received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF).

Hybrid Challenge Platforms to Promote Innovation

To be practical and sustainable tools for innovation, the coming generation of community-engagement and crowd-sourcing platforms need to improve the user experience of participants, while simultaneously providing a reliable mechanism for synthesizing participants' contributions into usable problem-solving outputs. In the present project, a multi-disciplinary research team will explore how community participation spreads, the effects of feedback on participation, and the changes in community and collaboration structure over time. Empirically, the project lays out three research questions: 1) characteristics of participatory government platforms, 2) behavioral and system challenges over time, and 3) the impact of managerial and design interventions on individual behaviors and network structure.

The specific platform for this research is "10,000 Solutions", a many-to-many system managed by Arizona State University that empowers both individuals and organizations to host and participate in solutions, challenges, and collective actions. The research team will study participation in "10,000 Solutions" across online, physical, and hybrid environments, particularly focusing on participant community building, trajectories of participation, and output usability. A diverse slate of experiments, with the application of the application of agent-based modeling and network analysis, will provide useful insights for theory development on community engagement and participation, as well as generating best-practice guidelines for participatory design, operation, assessment and implementation.

Future advances in economic growth and national security require new technologies for harnessing the wisdom of crowds and the power of public innovation. However, these technologies are still in their infancy, and there is a growing need for robust and flexible platforms that can move beyond exploratory efforts, toward real-world deployment. The project will develop evidence-based policies and practices to improve collaboration while increasing perceptions of accountability, legitimacy and individual satisfaction, the effectiveness of the work outputs and the adoption and use of the products developed by the community and through the platform. Knowing the conditions that increase and sustain collective action will help in devising policies and practices for building platforms to enhance participation in government and non-government organizations.

NSF Award [Link]

Plenary Address at the Western Intergovernmental Audit Forum

I will be delivering a plenary address at the 2013 Western Intergovernmental Audit Forum. The meeting will take place at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel in Arizona, Sept 12-13, 2013. My talk titled, Emerging Technologies and the Future of Governance, will explore how technological innovations are changing how we design, implement, and manage, our governance mechanisms and public institutions. header

Two Papers in the JASIST Virtual Issue on Knowledge Management

jasistIt has been a while since I wrote a paper on knowledge management systems, so it was a pleasant surprise hearing that the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology has chosen two of my papers for their virtual issue on knowledge management. The two papers are:

To read the editorial of the special issue, please click here. The special issue was edited by  Claire McInerney and Ziad Matni, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Conference on Economic Resilience, Braga, Portugal

ConferenceEconomicsI am heading to Portugal for the Conference on Economic Resilience. I co-organized this event along with two colleagues, Isabel Ramos (University of Minho) and James R. Martin, II (Clemson University). The conference will be held at Largo do Paço – Rectorate. Attendees at the event include:

  • Norio Okada, Director of Disaster Recovery Governance Research Institute, Kwansei Gakuin University, Japan
  • Alejandro Pinto-Gonzalez, DG CONNECT Policy Office, European Commission, Belgium
  • Helena Molin Valdes, Deputy Director UN-ISDR, Switzerland
  • Francis Ghesquiere, Manager for the World Bank’s Disaster Risk Management Practice Group and Head of GFDRR Secretariat
  • António Cunha, Rector of the University of Minho, Portugal
  • Alvaro Santos Pereira, Minister of Economy and Employment of Portugal

Designing, Planning, and Managing Resilient Cities

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To what disruptions must cities be resilient? How can cities, as complex systems, be resilient? Building a capacity for resilience might be a daunting task when one considers the multitude of components, processes, and interactions that take place within and beyond a city’s physical, logical (e.g. legal), and virtual (cyberspace) boundaries. Planning for resilience to the impacts of stressors within cities requires an evaluation of the vulnerable components of cities, an understanding of the key processes, procedures, and interactions that organize these components and develop the capacity to address various structuring of components and their interactions with the ultimate goal of achieving resilience.

I have co-authored a paper with Trevor Flanery (Urban Affairs and Planning, College of Architecture and Urban StudiesVirginia Tech) that provides a deeper look at resilience in cities, proposes a conceptual resilience framework, and includes a discussion and analysis of the framework. We propose a framework that serves as a holistic approach to designing, planning, and managing for resilience by including an evaluation of cultural and process dynamics within cities as well as their physical elements.

The paper will appear in Cities.

TechniCity – MOOC – A Vision for Smart Cities

coursera_logoWhile at Ohio State University, I recorded lectures for the TechniCity MOOC. This course is being offered by two of my colleagues, Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration, City and Regional Planning Section, Ohio State University and Tom Sanchez, Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech. Check it out!