Posts

ASPA 2013 – Collective Intelligence in the Public Sector

aspanew2color2I just returned from the 2013 Annual Conference of the American Society for Public Administration in New Orleans. I participated on a panel titled, Institutionalizing Social Media in the Public Sector, moderated by John Kamensky (IBM Center for the Business of Government). Panelist included: Ines Mergel (Maxwell SchoolSyracuse University), Tanya M. Kelley (Arizona State University), and Sherri R. Greenberg (LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin). My remarks focused on the future of crowdsourcing in the public sector by highlighting four different archetypes of participatory platforms that leverage collective intelligence for solving governance challenges.

Overall, a great experience to network with colleagues, exchange ideas, and enjoy New Orleans!

Baumer Lecture at Ohio State University – Designing Smart Cities

logo-tosusquare-flatI will be visiting The Ohio State University on February 6th, 2013. During my visit, I will deliver a talk as part of the Baumer Lecture Series in Ohio State’s Knowlton School of Architecture. My talk will outline how technologies are changing the face of urbanization. Specifically, I will outline how citizens are leveraging technologies to develop innovations in planning and governance of urban spaces. Due to the democratization of technologies, the availability of open data, and an educated citizenry, we are seeing an unprecedented rate of innovation in the design, planning, and management of our cities today. This talk will draw on my recent research projects on smart cities, citizen apps and urban technologies, big data management, and challenges and competitions for crowdsourcing innovation.

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.

Speaking at NASCIO Leadership Summit – Oct 2012

I will be speaking at the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) Leadership Summit on Oct 25, 2012 in San Diego, California. My talk will draw on my book, Intrapreneurship: Managing Ideas within Your Organization, and focus on how to lead through collaboration.

For more details on the event, please click here: -- NASCIO 2012 Leadership Summit

To have me speak at your event, please send me an email

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.

Report now Available – Challenge.Gov: Landscape Analysis + Citizen and Agency Perspective

I have just completed the first draft of my report on the Challenge.gov platform. This paper has been a few months in the making and builds on my recent work in community intelligence platforms, citizen apps, and innovation in the public sector. To receive a copy of the report, please send me an email.

Challenge.Gov: Landscape Analysis and Implications from the Citizen and Agency Perspective

To solve complex social and policy challenges we need to broaden the conversations, involve more minds and talent, and collaborate effectively and efficiently. Traditionally, public agencies have felt the burden to tackle challenges by relying on their own internal intellectual capital or through structured contracting with external partners. Seldom could an individual citizen share his or her talent, expertise, and skills with a public agency directly. Today, public agencies are becoming more participatory, inclusive, and transparent in how they engage with citizens as well as with each other. Challenge.gov is the crowdsourcing platform for US federal agencies that seek to engage citizens, leverage collective intelligence, and tackle complex social and technical challenges. In this paper we report on an exploratory landscape analysis of the competitions run on Challege.gov. We interviewed citizens who took part in competitions on Challenge.gov as well as public managers and government executives to understand their motivations, experiences, lessons learned, and future plans. Drawing on these interviews, we arrive at a set of actionable guidelines presented through implications to improve the state of competitions hosted by Challenge.gov. 

Acknowledgments: This project was made possible through funding received from the IBM Center for the Business of Government. Tim Moon and Akshay Bhagwatwar served as research associates for the project. I am grateful to the assistance provided by Eric Park and Lauren Bulka during the project. I also thank all solution contributors to challenges and public managers who designed challenges that participated in our interviews. All errors and omissions are solely my responsibility. I acknowledge the thoughtful discussion and comments from participants at the NSF Workshop on Participatory Challenge Platforms with a Public Intent. The views represented in this paper are our own, and do not represent official positions of IBM, any of its affiliates, or the NSF.