IFE Catapult Grant: Mitigating Urban Heat

We have received funding from the Institute for Future Environments Catapult research funding program at QUT.

Mitigating Urban Heat: Developing a Climate Smart Toolkit for Liveable, Sustainable Precincts to Address Environmental Monitoring and Better Building Design

Urban heat islands (UHI) are a major contributor to increasing global warming, which are metropolitan areas that are significantly warmer than their surrounding rural areas. Land temperatures in densely developed city centres can be as much as 10 degrees Celsius higher than the surrounding forested landscape. Besides increased energy needs, UHI effects urge urban planners to reconsider the design and energy assessments of buildings in urban areas due to the storage and release of heat energy. Increasing temperatures also contribute to serious health issues, e.g., through the transmission of infectious diseases, which diminishes the liveability in UHI areas.

We propose to study the mechanisms of UHI and the impact of mitigation strategies on the built environment taking a data-centric approach. We will design a toolkit for the development process using the Northshore Hamilton precinct as our testbed . The toolkit, a Climate Smart Precinct in a Box, will be transferable across multiple precincts and adaptable to local conditions in each precinct. Our goal is to build a scalable model that leverages open source technology, the Internet of Things (IoT), smart sensing environments, data sharing models, and advanced analytics to address the issue of urban heat for more liveable and sustainable communities. To achieve this, we follow a methodology that is divided into two parts, technology and people, and has five components: data collection, data analysis, develop insights, design patterns, and impact.

Methodology to develop a Climate Smart Precinct in a Box

First, we plan to collect sensor data to measure different types of data such as temperature, solar radiation, humidity, and wind speed velocity, which will be realized through the implementation of LoRaWAN-enabled environmental monitoring systems provided by Meshed , an IoT technology provider. Second, we will integrate and analyse data using UrbanPulse, an IoT analytics platform provided by [ui!] . We will employ an open standards approach to design an advanced data visualisation interface. Third, we will develop actionable insights through workshops, focus groups, and interviews with key stakeholders. Fourth, we will leverage the insights in other locations and develop a policy informatics framework through an abstraction of the insights and a development of design patterns. This will help to reiterate the process and share design knowledge. Finally, we will be able to measure and evaluate the impact of the Climate Smart Precinct in a Box as it pertains to reducing UHI effects effectively and efficiently.

Collaborators: Kenan Degirmenci, Veronica Garcia- Hansen, Sara Omrani, Laurie Buys, Catherine Caruana-McManus, Simon Kaplan, Lutz Heuser, Thom Saunders, and Ray Johnson

Fragile Cities in the Developed World: A Conceptual Framework

J. David Selby (PhD Candidate, School of Public AffairsArizona State University) and I have an article accepted in Cities.

Abstract: Cities, like any complex adaptive systems, may become increasingly fragile if not properly managed. To date, the literature has focused primarily on the examination of cities within fragile countries. This has resulted in a dearth of studies that have looked at how developed (or even advanced) cities that operate in relatively stable countries and/or environments might allow unresolved issues to accumulate in the city: degrading its ability to function. Studying fragility in developed cities is a worthwhile undertaking given their economic, social, and political significance. This paper puts forth a conceptual framework to understand the nature of fragile cities in the developed world. Our framework frames fragility as a function of unresolved fractures of social compacts that degrades a city’s ability to function over time and stress exacerbates its effects. Drawing on over two dozen incidents from developed cities, we ground the framework and illustrate its value.

To download a copy of the paper, please visit SSRN.


ICMA Research Fellow 2018-2019

ICMA Press Release (October 23, 2018) - "ICMA has selected its inaugural group of research fellows, recognizing outstanding action-oriented research approaches to deal with local governments’ most pressing issues. Fellowships will fund four thought leaders to study topics ranging from equity measures for managing urban performance to developing successful innovation training programs for local officials, adding to ICMA’s vast knowledge base of research and leading practices in local government leadership and management. "

To read the full press release is available here.

University of Pennsylvania – Democracy in the Crosshairs Conference

Heading to the University of Pennsylvania next week to attend the Democracy in the Crosshairs: Cyber Interference, Dark Money and Foreign Influence conference. The two-day event is a closed session. The conference is organized by the Center for Ethics & Rule of Law and the UPenn Law School. I co-authored a paper with Atif Ahmad  (University of Melbourne) for the conference.

Weaponizing Information Systems for Political Disruption: The Actor, Lever,Effects, and Response Taxonomy (ALERT)

Information systems continue to be used by actors who want to undermine public institutions and disrupt political systems. In recent times, actors have engaged in acts of cyber warfare ranging from attempts to compromise voting systems, spread false propaganda, use dark networks to illicitly fund campaigns, and even attack public infrastructure via technologies. Initial analysis points to the fact that most of these attempts have been successful in achieving their intended objectives. Given this reality, we expect them to intensify and be more creative in the future. In this paper, we take a critical look at the concept of weaponizing information systems for political disruption. Our analysis focuses on two specific forms of information systems enabled disruption. The first is direct attacks on information systems infrastructures employed in various facets of political campaigns and the election processes. The second is attacks that target public infrastructure and services, which impact trust in government and public institutions of the nation and indirectly impact political stability and governance regimes. We outline an Actor, Lever, Effects, and Response Taxonomy (ALERT) to understand the nuances associated with various types of options individuals, organizations, and nations have when it comes to weaponizing information systems for political gain and to cause public unrest.

Conference schedule is available here.

Data Governance – Cutter Business Technology Journal

An article I co-authored with Gregory S. Dawson (Arizona State University) and James S. Denford (Royal Military College of Canada) appears in the current issue of the Cutter Business Technology Journal. 

We focus our article on a fundamental organizational question: in a medium-to-large organization, should data governance be centralized or decentralized (or, possibly, federated)? There are pros and cons for both centralization and decentralization. The overall business strategy needs to be considered: in some conglomerates of disparate business lines, there may be little commonality to the information being managed by the various divisions. However, decentralization still causes duplication of effort and risks inconsistencies across the enterprise. The authors give concrete examples that link the IT governance modality — centralized or decentralized — with performance outcomes. They generally favor a centralized model and provide the reader with specific recommendations on how to centralize data governance in organizations and how to implement this model successfully.

The article is available here.

Seminar – Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia

I will deliver a seminar at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet next week.


The Public Sector in a World of Autonomous Systems

Emerging technologies are fundamentally impacting and transforming all aspects of our society. I am particularly concerned with how technological innovations impact 1) the design of our public institutions, 2) the apparatuses through which we shape, implement, and evaluate public policies, and 3) our governance frameworks for public goods. All indications suggest that we are moving toward a world where autonomous systems will dictate how we interface and interact with other agents and objects in our society. We can take advantage of emerging technologies to make our societies more livable, just, resilient, and sustainable. We need bold imagination and action to shape the future we want. This talk will outline how the public sector can take a leadership role in the design, development, and deployment of autonomous systems.

September 26, 2018: 13.30-14.30

Blockchain Research

Our recent research on blockchain continues to be published on Brookings TechTank. See below for links to recent articles:

Collaborators: Chen Ye, Kiran Kabtta Somvanshi, Xiaofeng Wang

External coverage: ZDNet

Unpacking Complexities of Mega-Scale Public Sector IT projects – Systèmes d’Information et Management

Page Header Isabelle Fagnot, Chen Ye, and I have a paper in the current issue of Systèmes d'Information et Management.
Mega-scale information technology (IT) projects in the public sector are significant undertakings operating within an ecosystem of stakeholders, resources, and constraints. The track record of these projects is abysmal. Employing an ecosystems lens, we study three failed mega-scale public sector IT projects: the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Virtual Case File (VCF), the U.S.federal government’s HealthCare.gov project, and Great Britain’s National Programme for IT (NPfIT). A forensic analysis of these projects was conducted employing the Qualitative Media Analysis (QMA) methodology. The findings suggest several stakeholders in a public IT project assume roles analogous to different types of species in an ecosystem, with the public agency sponsoring the project as the keystone species. Specifically, the findings show that the public agency is susceptible to failure in hiring key personnel with proper knowledge and experience, and failure in responding to early signals alerting the impending implosion of the project ecosystem. In addition, flawed relationships between the public agency and contractors, and flawed relationship between the legislature and the public agency also contributed significantly to project failure.

Systèmes d'Information et Management (French Journal of Management Information Systems) is the major French language journals addressing information systems intended for organization management.