Authors Kevin Desouza and Kendra Smith suggest that nonprofits are falling behind scientific and business communities in using digital technology, and offer four steps to improve how social change organizations use big data for innovation.
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.
I will be participating in two events this coming week in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. First up is a visit to Portland to participate in a panel at the Premier CIO Forum. To read more about the panel, please visit: CIO Leadership: Preparing the Next Generation – Are We Doing Enough?
Panel Description: Listen and react to the views of a diverse panel of CIOs, educators, and not-for-profit directors on how well we are doing in preparing our next generation of IT leaders. We are spending a good deal of our IT professional development budgets on helping people stay current on their technical skills, but are we preparing them to become the leaders of tomorrow? We hear we are falling behind on inspiring our best and brightest students to go into the IT field--myth or fact? If fact, what can/should we be doing to change this pattern.\
I will then fly to Seattle for the Independent Sector conference. I will participate in a panel discussion with Beth Tuttle (President and CEO, Cultural Data Project) and Phil Buchanan (President, The Center for Effective Philanthropy) to explores how non-profits can leverage data for operational and strategic gains.
Data provides real opportunities to increase efficiency, decision making, and impact. But what if the numbers aren’t relevant? What if the stats are misleading? And what if the sheer amount of data is simply overwhelming such that an organization is swimming in data but unable to stay afloat? Don’t be data rich but information poor. Join us to discuss data sharing and monitoring, as well as the attendant issues of privacy and ethics in a world of big data.
I will be attending the BIG Ideas Conference hosted by the Alliance for Innovation in Fort Lauderdale. I co-authored one of the discussion papers for the conference with Kendra Smith. The paper takes a critical look at what it takes to build cities and communities that are economically resilient.
Economic Resilience: No Big Ideas Needed!
Resilience is one of the most bastardized terms when it comes to planning and management jargon. We all want resilience, yet it means drastically different things to many people. To some, resilience is the ability to respond to shocks and abrasions in the environment, while others think of resilience as the ability to continuously innovate and stay ahead of the curve so as not to become obsolete. Economic vulnerability and economic resilience play a strong role in cities’ resilience. Economic vulnerability is an entities proneness to exogenous shocks coming from economic features such as economic openness, export concentration, and dependence on strategic imports. Economic resilience is the ability of an organization, whether it is a business or a city or even a country, to withstand the impacts of financial and economic shocks and to bounce back quickly, or to avoid shocks through proactive planning and interventions. In this paper, we will explore the many facets of economic resilience, drivers of economic resilience, investing in resilience, and the risks of resilience planning. Additionally, we will offer domestic and international examples of cities that have experience with resilience planning, either through risk reduction or after-the-fact resilience planning. Finally, we will conclude with a discussion on the realities of economic resilience.
Please email me if you would like a copy of the paper.
I also serve on the Board of Directors for the Alliance for Innovation and am looking forward to engaging discussions during our board meetings.
Rashmi Krishnamurthy and I have a paper accepted in Cities.
Cities around the world are experiencing tremendous population growth, and this is especially true in the developing world. In this profile, we feature the city of Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, India. Chennai is the largest industrial commercial center in South India; it is often referred as the “Detroit of India” and the “Gateway to South India.” In recent decades, large industrial facilities have been established in Chennai and its suburbs—resulting in large-scale population growth. However, this explosive growth has strained the urban infrastructure of this prominent city. In this profile, we provide an overview of Chennai’s urban history from social, economic, political, and environmental perspectives. We highlight the current and future challenges faced by the city, and we argue that it is well poised to leverage emerging smart city technologies. However, to effectively implement these technologies, city administrators need to undertake several measures; for example, a database capturing all dimensions of the city must be developed. By clearly delineating the urban planning and policy efforts to the present and offering a way forward, this paper contributes to the growing literature on smart cities and the unique urban challenges faced by cities in the developing world.
I will be speaking at USAID's Frontiers in Development Conference. My presentation will take place in a new session sponsored by the U.S. Global Development Lab, the Innovation Marketplace. The event engages a broad audience with a focus on “the idea that science, technology, innovation and partnership can accelerate development impact and end extreme poverty by 2030.”
Realizing the Promise of Open Data and Technologies for Global Development
How can we harness data towards the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by 2030? Today, we have all heard about open data. Open data movements, which share data about localities (cities, towns, villages, etc.) and public institutions (agencies), are spurring up all across the globe. Agencies are making data available to the public about all facets of a governance, public services, and management of public goods. In addition, agencies are liberating data that were traditionally locked up within administrative systems. The overriding goal here is to increase transparency, thereby increasing trust in government while also enabling more collaborative and participatory governance. Open data programs have given 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, we 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 for global development, we have undermined its potential due to an under-appreciation of governance and policy nuances. Do not despair! We will outline a series of actionable steps that can be undertaken to rectify this deficiency. Specifically, we will focus on how to create data-driven development labs to tackle some of our most vexing global challenge such as the eradication of extreme poverty.
My colleague, David Swindell, will also be presenting at the event. His presentation will highlight our collaborative work on designing financial models to underwrite investments in smart infrastructures. See here for our report.
See here for the draft program agenda.
See here for the ASU press release on the event.
Local governments are facing new realities. Citizens' trust in government has declined, and financial constraints do not allow local governments to deliver all of the services their communities would like. In response, citizens are changing as well. Increasingly, local residents and organizations are seizing opportunities to engage with their communities in their own ways by creating platforms that bypass government. Read More.
Technology-Enabled Participatory Platforms for Civic Engagement:
The Case of US Cities
Technology-enabled participatory platforms are proving to be valuable canvases for engaging citizens in solving public good challenges. Citizens are playing a more active role by either designing platforms themselves or participating on platforms created by public agencies. Unfortunately, our theoretical knowledge about the nature of these platforms is limited. In this paper, we take the first steps towards understanding technology-enabled participatory platforms. Through an exploratory analysis, following the spirit of a grounded theoretic methodology, we examined technology-enabled participatory platforms in the 25 most populated cities in the US. We deduce four main archetypes – citizen centric and citizen data, citizen centric and government data, government centric and citizen data, and government centric and citizen developed solutions of technology-enabled participatory platforms. We describe the intricacies of how collective intelligence is leveraged on these platforms. Implications for local government managers and urban planners are discussed. We hypothesize how the future of these platforms might evolve in the not so distant future.
This is our second paper in the Journal of Urban Technology, to read our first paper, please click here.
Hybrid Challenge Platforms to Promote Innovation
To be practical and sustainable tools for innovation, the coming generation of community-engagement and crowd-sourcing platforms need to improve the user experience of participants, while simultaneously providing a reliable mechanism for synthesizing participants' contributions into usable problem-solving outputs. In the present project, a multi-disciplinary research team will explore how community participation spreads, the effects of feedback on participation, and the changes in community and collaboration structure over time. Empirically, the project lays out three research questions: 1) characteristics of participatory government platforms, 2) behavioral and system challenges over time, and 3) the impact of managerial and design interventions on individual behaviors and network structure.
The specific platform for this research is "10,000 Solutions", a many-to-many system managed by Arizona State University that empowers both individuals and organizations to host and participate in solutions, challenges, and collective actions. The research team will study participation in "10,000 Solutions" across online, physical, and hybrid environments, particularly focusing on participant community building, trajectories of participation, and output usability. A diverse slate of experiments, with the application of the application of agent-based modeling and network analysis, will provide useful insights for theory development on community engagement and participation, as well as generating best-practice guidelines for participatory design, operation, assessment and implementation.
Future advances in economic growth and national security require new technologies for harnessing the wisdom of crowds and the power of public innovation. However, these technologies are still in their infancy, and there is a growing need for robust and flexible platforms that can move beyond exploratory efforts, toward real-world deployment. The project will develop evidence-based policies and practices to improve collaboration while increasing perceptions of accountability, legitimacy and individual satisfaction, the effectiveness of the work outputs and the adoption and use of the products developed by the community and through the platform. Knowing the conditions that increase and sustain collective action will help in devising policies and practices for building platforms to enhance participation in government and non-government organizations.
NSF Award [Link]