Posts

Salzburg Global Forum on the Future of Public Service

sgf Heading to Salzburg, Austria to spend a few days at the Schloss Leopoldskron to discuss the Future of Public Service hosted by the Salzburg Global Forum. For more details, please see here.

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.

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2016 Technology Forum – Ottawa County, Michigan

OC_Tech_Forum_LogoWill be heading to Michigan later this month to keynote the 2016 Technology Forum.

Realizing the Promise of (Open, Mobile, and Big) Data and Technologies for Local Governments

How can we harness data towards innovative local governance that advances our communities? Today, we have all heard about open data, mobile data, and even big (and very big) data. We have also seen a rise in civic hackathons, competitions, and challenges that engage innovators to solve complex problems and promote the use of data analytics for global development. In this presentation, I will use a wide assortment of cases to illustrate a key point, i.e., while we have made great strides in leveraging technology and data, we have undermined its potential due to an under-appreciation of governance and policy nuances. Do not despair! I will outline a series of actionable steps that can be undertaken to rectify this deficiency. Specifically, I will focus on how can we create data-driven development labs to tackle some of our most vexing social and policy challenges.

WHEN: Friday, April 29, 2016, 8:30am-4:00pm
WHERE: Ottawa County Fillmore Complex, West Olive, MI (Map). Enter parking lot B, forum is in main conference room of the County Administration building, second floor, west wing.

Creating a Balanced Portfolio of Information Technology Metrics

DesouzaCoverMetricsMy new report published by the IBM Center for the Business of Government is now available.

Creating a Balanced Portfolio of Information Technology Metrics

Information technology has made possible the availability of real-time data and the tools to display that data, such as dashboards, scorecards, and heat maps. This has boosted the use of data and evidence by government decision makers in meeting their agency and program missions. But what about the use of performance metrics by agency chief information officers themselves?

Typically, CIOs have a good inventory of metrics regarding the performance of their technical infrastructure, such as server down time. Metrics on non-technical elements, however — such as innovation capacity of the IT department and the health of the overall IT organization — are in earlier stages of development. These metrics are critical for CIOs to effectively manage their IT departments, and to convey the strategic value of IT capabilities for attaining agency-wide objectives.

A balanced portfolio of metrics are needed: for project management, for operations management, and for innovation. Based on interviews with over two dozen seasoned government CIOs, the report identifies illustrative metrics that CIOs might consider adopting and offers a set of recommendation for how CIOs might go about designing, implementing, and evaluating the effectiveness of their metrics initiatives.

Capturing the Wisdom of Crowds – Planning

APAI have an article in the current issue of the American Planning Association's Planning magazine.

Capturing the Wisdom of Crowds

Combining citizen intelligence and online civic platforms.

By Kevin C. Desouza and Kendra L. Smith

Technology platforms for citizen intelligence are springing up quickly. Platforms such as Deliberatorium, DebateGraph, Cohere, YourView, and CoPe_it! all allow for extensive discourse. Each has special features such as multiple ways to contact other users and participate in discussion boards. Additionally, these platforms employ social analytics, discourse analytics, and social network maps. These sites allow users to gather information and debate ideas and solutions to specific community issues.

Users can also add evidence and information to other users' claims, which triggers conversations and sharing. In many U.S. cities, leaders are finding value in citizen intelligence. Online civic platforms tend to fall into four main categories, as one of us has also noted in an upcoming Journal of Urban Technology article. To read the more, please click here.

To read the print version, please click here.

Our Fragile Emerging Megacities: A Focus on Resilience

planetizenI recently authored an article for Planetizen.

Unless you have been hibernating, you have heard about urbanization trends and have spent time reflecting on what this might hold for the future of communities, cities, nations, and the planet as a whole. The world’s total urban area is expected to triple between 2000 and 2030—urban populations are set to double to around 4.9 billion in the same period. The number of megacities is expected to double over the next decade, and many of these growing cities are far from resilient. The solution: frugal engineering and local knowledge. Read more

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.

What is a Smart City?

Within the past 18 months the concept of smart (and intelligent) cities has been become popular in the media. For instance, Scientific American ran a special issue on smart cities. Industry players (e.g. IBM, Siemens, etc) have specific programs and practices dedicated to advancing the cause of building smart cities. Government agencies are dedicating resources and making investments in designing smarter cities (for e.g., see - EU invests $450 million in smart cities). Despite its intuitive appeal, we have limited empirical knowledge within the design, planning, and policy fields about the dimensions of smart cities—its characteristics, the barriers, and the potential opportunities. One reason is the term smart city is still new and it appears to means different things within different fields. In some ways the term is complex and vague. Some experts use the term smart city to highlight advances in sustainability and greening of the city, while others use the term to portray infusion of information via technologies to better the lives of citizens that reside in these spaces. Even others, consider the presence of high-level of citizen engagement in the design and governance of the space as a key attribute of smarter cities.  Therefore, no consensus existing within the academy on the characteristics of smart cities and how they fit within existing conceptual frameworks, such as sustainability and policy informatics.

In a working paper, I propose the following definition: A smart city is livable, resilient, sustainable, and designed through open and collaborative governance.

  • A smart city is resilient in that it possesses the capacity, desire, and opportunity for sensing, responding to, recovering, and learning from natural and man-made disasters.
  • A smart city takes a sustainable approach to the management of its economic, social, and ecological resources to ensure that they have vitality going into the future.
  • A smart city infuses information for automated and human, individual and collective, decision-making on optimal allocation of resources, design of systems and processes, and citizen engagement.
  • A smart city enables intelligent decision-making through leveraging information via technology, platforms, processes, and policies across its environments, infrastructures, systems, resources, and citizens.
  • A smart city operates as a seamlessly integrated platform where information links the various infrastructures, systems, organizations, and citizens’ goals and values.
  • A smart cities engage citizens in planning and design of public spaces and govern use of public resources through open and collaborative governance platforms that generates, and leverages, collective intelligence. 

In some respects the description resembles a vision statement with supporting principles or goals that make the vision of a smart city come to life. First, the overarching goal of having a smart city is that it is livable, resilient, and sustainable. These goals increase the value of the city and contribute positively to the lives of the citizens that interact with, and reside within, the city. Second, we must recognize these goals as a function of infusing information into the fabric of the city. Technological devices enable citizens to leverage information as they conduct their daily activities, while they also enable planners and designers to have accurate situational awareness about the city. Information is infused into the planning and design apparatuses as public sector projects are conducted. For example, the use of computational platforms and simulation technologies can enable city planners and designers think through various alternatives, test assumptions, and visualize the impacts of various interventions on critical outcomes. Through harnessing information, the smart city is able to conduct public projects in a highly effective and efficient manner. Third, smart cities use a wide assortment of information pipelines and platforms to integrate the often disparate physical and human sub-systems, infrastructures, and processes. Through building viable connections, information flows between the various parts of the city seamlessly so as to enable for real-time intelligent decision-making. Fourth, smart cities leverage the collective intelligence of its citizens, residents and, even transients (e.g. people who commute to work in the city) using participatory platforms. The smart city has viable vehicles and platforms through which its citizens can contribute to its governance processes and the future design of the city.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the definition and the elements of a smart city.