Research Seminar: Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University

Looking forward to my visit to the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University.

Date: January 14, 2019

Shaping the Future of Autonomous Systems in Society

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. To realize this future, we need active and sustained engagement by scholars across a myriad of disciplines, especially public policy and management.

Public policy and governance scholars have largely been absent when it comes to engineering efforts related to the design and deployment of autonomous systems and policy debates that will shape their impact on our society. In this talk, I will outline why we need active engagement by public policy and management scholars during phases of autonomous systems development and implementation. Examples will be drawn from over a dozen research engagements that have studied emerging technologies in the public sector, from predictive analytic systems to blockchain, social media platforms, and machine learning algorithms. I will outline key governance dilemmas and policy challenges confronting public agencies as they try to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovations.

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

Panel – Seeking Public Intellectuals in the Information Systems Discipline

For those attending the International Conference on Information Systems, please join us for a discussion on the role of public intellectuals in the information systems discipline.

Seeking Public Intellectuals in the Information Systems Discipline: Towards an Impact and Engagement Agenda

Information systems (IS) play a major role in all areas of civic/social life, giving rise to research problems in areas such as cybersecurity, well-being, healthcare, social classification and digital divides. Yet, seldom does IS research find its way into policy forums and issues of public debate. The position of the panel is that IS scholars need to consider seriously their role in conducting and reporting research that can influence policy. Panellists will focus on different modes of engagement with policy makers and policymaking forums. They will articulate successes, challenges and heartaches – in their aspirations and activities for such engagement. They will discuss how research they have conducted in areas such as cybersecurity, healthcare IS, technology innovation and well-being has influenced policymaking bodies. They will debate about visions and opportunities facing leading IS journals in publishing policy focused papers. They will also discuss challenges involved in leading transformation agendas for developing institutional capacity in policy focused research and its dissemination.


  • Ritu Agarwal, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland
  • Michael Barrett, Judge Business School, University of Cambridge
  • Kevin C. Desouza, School of Management, Queensland University of Technology
  • Ramayya Krishnan, H. John Heinz III College, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Monideepa Tarafdar, Management School, Lancaster University (Moderator)
  • Richard T. Watson, Terry College of Business, University of Georgia

Date: Friday December 14, Time: 8:30 to 10:00 am, Location: Salons 3 and 4

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.