IBM Center for the Business of Government Grant – Big Data and Public Agencies

For a second year in a row, I have been fortunate to receive a grant from the IBM Center for the Business of Government.

Project: Building Analytical Capabilities for Big Data in the Public Sector: From Paralysis to Analysis

The goal of this project is to arrive at an actionable framework for federal agencies to navigate the 'big' data management challenge. We will interview Chief Information Officers (CIOs) who are leading 'big' data projects at federal, state, and local agencies to understand the challenges they face and their attempts to navigate opportunities provided by 'big' and 'open' data. We will administer a survey to measures technical, processes, people, and organizational factors that impact an agency's readiness and experience with big data management. An actionable framework will be developed that outlines how public agencies should proceed to create a roadmap towards devising analytical capabilities for big data management.

To learn more about my prior project on Challenge.gov, please click here.

My Research Mind – A Little Messy

I have been doing some reflection on my research interests and the connections between the various scientific domains in which I work. I will be on a panel, Working on Mars while Living on Earth - Balancing Demands across Disciplinary Boundaries, with Sandeep Purao (Penn State University), Ajay Vinze (Arizona State University), and Steve Sawyer (Syracuse University) at the 22nd Workshop on Information Systems and Technology where I will share some of my lessons learnt in doing interdisciplinary research and holding academic appointments in various disciplinary units from business schools to information schools and urban studies to public administration.

For a sneak preview here is a graphical description of my research spheres.

Below is a graphical description of my research trajectory mapped across various dimensions.

Policy Informatics in Communications of the AIS

I have a new paper accepted for publication in the Communications of the AIS. The paper outlines the case for IS researchers to pay attention to the budding field of policy informatics.

In this paper we introduce policy informatics as an emerging research space. Policy informatics is the study of how information systems are leveraged towards solving complex public policy problems. Leveraging information systems requires: (1) platforms for citizens to participate and engage in policy processes and with public agencies; (2) public agencies to utilize technologies to take advantage of information reservoirs for evidence-driven policy design; and (3) public agencies to be more transparent, participatory, and collaborative. Presented in this paper is one illustrative application of policy informatics. We explore human centered participatory platforms for facilitating deliberations on policy issues. When individuals and groups seek to collaborate to resolve policy issues, competing interests and adversarial positions on issues as well as an unawareness of the others’ perspectives often result in poor outcomes. Empathy is the act of imagining, understanding, and actively responding to the conditions and perspectives of another related to a particular situation. Therefore, generating and disseminating a strong feeling of empathy among members in these policy networks is crucial for mitigating conflicts. However, empathy generation and transfer is a complex challenge that requires systematic research within the design of participatory platforms. A thoughtful application of information systems (IS) can help bring diverse stakeholders together and promote cooperation. Human centered IS platforms facilitate richer communication channels and timely feedback to generate a sense of shared community to pursue shared goals. Interactive computer simulations is a form human centered participatory platform, which enables construction of synthetic environments for policy deliberation, and provides participants with an opportunity to jointly explore the decision space to understand the claims of other participants as legitimate.

Reference: Krishnamurthy, R., Desouza, K.C., Johnston, E.W., and Bhagwatwar, A. “A Glimpse into Policy Informatics: The Case of Participatory Platforms that Generate Synthetic Empathy,” Communications of the AIS, Forthcoming.

Joining the Board of Alliance for Innovation

I am heading to Williamsburg, VA for the Alliance for Innovation Board Meeting and the Big Ideas Conference. I recently joined the Alliance for Innovation Board of Directors.

Arizona State University (ASU) is a core member of the Alliance for Innovation (AFI), and houses the administrative offices of the AFI at the College of Public Programs. The AFI brings together leading city and county managers who have an appetite for innovation. It serves as a platform for local governments who are passionate about nurturing an innovative culture and building better communities throughout the US and Canada. The Alliance maintains a loyal membership of approximately 400 local governments who employ more than 9,000 employees who take advantage of AFI on-line and in-person services. It hosts two annual conferences every year – Transforming Local government (TLG) which features case studies of the most innovative programs introduced in member governments and the BIG Ideas event where a select group of 100 “thought leaders” come together in a provocative venue to explore emerging issues facing local communities. It operates with another strategic partner, the International City County Manager Association (ICMA), the on-line Knowledge Network which currently has more than 35,000 local government users that provide content, create groups of interest and query one another about best practices. AFI also has a robust learning program through regular webinars and regional workshops. The AFI network can be mobilized to test out innovations that arise from the research, provide seek feedback on research outcomes, and even in the securing of complementary resources. The AFI will also serve as a valuable conduit for disseminating the findings from the research project.

Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative

I will be traveling to India to meet with researchers at IIT Kanpur as part of our project on Sustainable Infrastructure Development that was funded through the Obama-Singh 21st Century Knowledge Initiative. The project was developed while I was the Director of the Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech along with Ralph Hall and Michael Garvin. I will be presenting a talk on Designing Smart and Resilient Cities while at IIT-Kanpur.

Intelligence and Nuclear Non-Proliferation Programs: The Achilles Heel

Kristen Lau (University of Oxford) and I have a paper accepted for publication in Intelligence and National SecurityKristen was my graduate student at the University of Washington and is now pursuing a doctoral degree at Oxford. We began studying information management failures associated with nuclear non-proliferation efforts in 2009. We presented an early version of the paper at  the Centre for Science and Security Studies (CSSS) at King’s College London.

Abstract: Intelligence is a critical component for all counter-proliferation activities.  It allows us to assess and determine what makes up the current threat environment in terms of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and technology. The intelligence process as it relates to estimating nuclear capabilities or intentions is wrought with many challenges and complications. The denial and deception techniques employed by states running covert weapons programs and the dual-use nature of many weapons components create many difficulties for intelligence organizations. Additionally, illicit transnational networks obscure the situation further by serving as a source, for both nation states and non-state actors, for acquiring dual-use commodities and technologies. These challenges can lead to the miscalculation of a state’s capabilities or intentions. This paper presents a comparative analysis of three cases of nuclear proliferation: India’s 1998 nuclear tests, the exposure of the AQ Khan network, and Iran’s nuclear program. We examine the lessons learned and propose recommendations for future counter proliferation policy and strategy. 

You might find our other paper of interest. It was published in the International Journal of Public Administration.

Presenting at the NSF Workshop on Participatory Challenge Platforms with a Public Intent

I had a wonderful time exchanging ideas with policy makers, researchers, practitioners, and even students at the NSF Workshop on Participatory Challenge Platforms with a Public Intent put on by the Center for Policy Informatics at Arizona State University. My formal remarks during the workshop drew on research results from our study of Challenge.gov. Since the workshop, I have heard from over 30 managers across the public, non-profit, and even private sectors for copies of the draft report. The feedback on the findings has been overwhelmingly positive. I hope to have a revised draft out for circulation by the end of the month.

See for a press release on the events in D.C. - "ASU Concludes White House Initiative in Nation's Capitol," ASU News, June 12, 2012.