Familiar public services and institutions are in the early stage of radical renewal that may render them unrecognizable by 2050. New technologies and societal transformation are reconfiguring the interdependent world at unprecedented speed. New concepts and demands for more flexible and dynamic public service are emerging at all levels, from 'megapolitan' cities to supranational organizations.
Frugal Technology and Innovation to Design Smarter Cities
In this paper, I will explore opportunities for frugal technology and innovation to design smarter cities. I will draw on several case studies of smart city development efforts in North America and Asia. The focus of my remarks will center on why we need to rethink the current state of technology deployment in urban centers, especially when we consider developing countries and fragile cities. A focus on frugal innovation will enable us to meet several objectives: 1) reduce the percentage of failed large-scale technology projects, 2) increase civic engagement through digital technologies, and 3) design data and build platforms that are agile and nimble.
Over the last few months, I have been working with my research team on several papers that examine how the 2016 US Elections are playing out on Facebook. We have several research notes on our project published on Brookings Institution TechTank Blog.
- Tracking presidential campaigns on Facebook
- Which topics do presidential candidates discuss on Facebook?
- What is the tone of the 2016 presidential campaign on Facebook?
We also have a paper accepted at the 2016 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining.
Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook and Twitter, are important spaces for political engagement. SNS have become common elements in political participation, campaigns, and elections. However, little is known about the dynamics between candidate posts and commentator sentiment in response to those posts on SNS. This study enriches computational political science by studying the 2016 U.S. elections and how candidates and commentators engage on Facebook. This paper also examines how online activity might be connected to offline activity and vice versa. We extracted 9,700 Facebook posts by five presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich) from their official Facebook pages and 12,050,595 comments on those posts. We employed topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and trends detection using wavelet transforms to discover topics, trends, and reactions. Our findings suggest that Republican candidates are more likely to share information on controversial events that have taken place during the election cycle, while Democratic candidates focus on social policy issues. As expected, commentators on Republican candidate pages express negative sentiments toward current public policies as they seldom support decisions made by the Obama administration, while commentators on democratic candidate pages are more likely to express support for continuation or advancement of existing policies. However, the significance (strong/weak) and nature (positive/negative) of sentiments varied between candidates within political parties based on perceived credibility of the candidate’s degree of credibility on a given issue. Additionally, we explored correlation between online trends of comments/sentiment and offline events. When analyzing the trend patterns, we found that changes in online trends are driven by three factors: 1) popular post, 2) offline debates, and 3) candidates dropping out of the race.
Research Team: Saud Alashri, Srinivasa Srivatsav Kandala, Vikash Bajaj, Roopek Ravi, Anish Pradhan, and Kendra L. Smith
My co-authored article with Gregory S.Dawson (Arizona State University) and James S. Denford (Royal Military College of Canada) has been accepted for publication in Journal of Strategic Information Systems.
Governing Innovation in U.S. State Government: An Ecosystem Perspective
In the public sector, the strategic quest for IT-based innovation often starts by hiring a successful private sector CIO and hoping his or her prior experience will transfer. However this often ignores the existence and influence of other entities and IT governance structures that form the innovation ecosystem. Applying the legal view of agency theory to the U.S. state innovation ecosystem and using a crisp-set qualitative comparative analysis (csQCA) approach, we investigate factors that are associated with public sector IT-based innovation. We find that CIO characteristics, structural oversight mechanisms, CIO relationships with authorities, and the state environment combine to form configurations that lead to both high and low performance.
I was also interviewed for a story in Wired on the US Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge.
I will be speaking at the Center for Science, Policy & Outcomes in Washington, DC on May 9th.
#IdeasToRetire: Information Systems in Public Management, Public Policy, and Governance
Death of ideas are painful. In his classic 1962 book, Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Thomas Kuhn traces how “normal science” precedes. In normal science, a field evolves based on prior scientific achievements and is built, brick by brick, from an existing paradigm. The current paradigm grows and evolves and gradually an entire community coalesces around this set of beliefs. Scientific practitioners take great pains to defend the set of beliefs and, over time, the scientific community acts to suppress innovations that conflict with the existing paradigm. Further, the community makes no efforts to discover new ways of doing things, performance anomalies are covered up, discarded or ignored and there is no effort to invent new theory. Even worse, there is an active effort to suppress new theories and those who espouse them. It is only when an existing paradigm is utter bereft of value that the community starts to examine the existing paradigm and challenge it.
Information systems are fundamentally transforming how we manage public institutions and conduct public policy. Yet, even a causal glance at the mainstream public management and public policy research outlets reflects a glaring omission of serious research into information systems when it comes to their design, management, governance, and evaluation. This state of affairs is not acceptable given the critical nature of information systems and their potential to impact how we govern. For all of the investments that the public sector has made in technology, we still see dismal failures in IT usage, management and implementation in government. A critical issue that stands in our way to realizing the full potential of IT when it comes to transforming our public agencies, delivery of public services, and the crafting and execution of public policies – antiquated ideas that hold us back. Adherence to these ideas is causing two undesirable outcomes: (1) an unacceptable gap between the promise of technology and its current failure rate and (2) a failure to fully realize the benefits of technology. In this talk, I will share findings from the #IdeasToRetire project. Our conclusion from this project of this is simple: government is stymied by outmoded ideas and can do better. Fixing this requires both thoughtful insight and courage.
I co-designed a new project for the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution along with my colleague Gregory Dawson. Ideas to Retire is a TechTank series of blog posts. These posts identify outdated practices in public sector IT management and suggest new ideas for improved outcomes. I am happy to report that the series launched today! You can find the introduction here. We will be featuring two ideas a week for the next 10 weeks.
Of the first two ideas featured, one is by James Keene (City Manager, Palo Alto, CA) co-authored with Jonathan Reichental (CIO, City of Palo Alto, CA). You can read about their idea here. The second idea is from David Bray (CIO, FCC).
Stay tuned for contributions from several other luminaries including Steve Kelman (Harvard University), John L. King (University of Michigan), Ramayya Krishnan (Carnegie Mellon University), Dan Chenok (IBM), Alfred Ho (University of Kansas), Jane Fountain (University of Massachusetts), Marc Ott (City Manager, Austin, TX), Neal Myrick (Tableau Foundation), Ellen Lettvin (US Department of Education), Richard T. Watson (University of Georgia), José Esteves (IE Business School), and Jonathan Liebenau (London School of Economics), Phil Howard (University of Washington), among others.
Thanks to all contributors that participated in this project!
- Learning from IT contracting mistakes in the public sector (Brookings Institution, TechTank Blog)
- CIO-enabled innovation playbook: Lessons for the public sector (Brookings Institution, TechTank Blog)
- “Model Citizens,” Planning, October, 2015, 26-29
- Creating a Balanced Portfolio of Information Technology Metrics was the most downloaded report published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government for 2015.
- I presented at the Flinn-Brown Leadership Academy - Arizona Center for Civic Leadership on Leadership in a Networked World
- I joined the ICMA's Performance Management Advisory Committee for a two-year term beginning on Jan 1, 2016.
Selected Interviews/Press Mentions
- Newcombe, T. “Learning to Share: How Cities Are Benefiting from the Sharing Economy,” Government Technology, December 14, 2015,
- Moore, J. “The 15 Most Innovative Agencies in Government,” NextGov, December 8, 2015,
- Keegan, M. “A Conversation with Dr. Kevin Desouza,” IBM Business of Government Radio Show, December 7, 2015
- Dovey, R. “Will City Regulators Treat Driverless Cars Like They’ve Treated Uber?” Next City, October 28, 2015
- Koma, A. “Hawaii Moves Ahead with Audit of State IT Spending,” StateScoop.com, October 21, 2015
It has been a busy and productive 2015. Best wishes to you and your families for a peaceful and prosperous 2016.
Heading to the University of Alaska Fairbanks today to deliver a talk at the Data to Decisions Visualization Workshop hosted by the NSF Sponsored Alaska EPSCoR (Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) program.
Beyond Modeling and Visualization: Towards Policy Design and Implementation
In this talk, I will highlight how technologies enable us to visualize policy options and simulate scenarios. Technologies, however, are no panacea when it comes to policy design and implementation. Deliberate decisions need to be made on how to structure the technology-enabled policy simulations to arrive at evidence-driven policy design, implementation, and evaluation.
Please click here for my slides.
I will be visiting the University of Florida later this week. The Bob Graham Center for Public Service is hosting my visit. I will deliver presentations to students across several Colleges including the Herbert Wertheim College of Engineering and the College of Journalism and Communications. In addition, I will meet with research leaders and faculty across the University.