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Big Data and Urban Informatics at UIC

logoILChicagoI am in Chicago to attend the NSF sponsored Workshop on Big Data and Urban Informatics. I will chair the Crisis and Emergency Informatics track and will present the following paper.

‘Big’ Data + ‘Open’ Data + ‘Mobile’ Data: Urban Informatics

I take the view of a city as a platform. As a platform, a city has infrastructure, processes, organizations, individuals, and technology as components. Additionally, cities are comprised of technical (e.g. sensors), social (e.g. humans), and socio-technical components (e.g. processes). The glue that holds these components together and enables integration and coordination to occur is data and information. The effective and efficient management of information is not only critical to ensure that each of the components operate optimally but also ensures that the overall system, the city, achieves its overall objectives. In this paper, I focus on three key data dimensions in the context of urban informatics: big, open, and mobile data. Key issues within each data dimension are presented. The paper builds on several research projects on smart cities, urban informatics, and policy informatics. Data collected during these projects includes over 45 case studies, over 60 interviews with key informants, analysis of over several thousand pages secondary data, and an examination of over 70 technology solutions that span mobile apps, online crowdsourcing platforms, sensors, analytical and visualization technologies, and associated urban technologies. The paper puts forth several considerations that need to be accounted for when discussing the potential of data and technologies to transform our urban spaces towards the goals of making them intelligent, livable, sustainable, and resilient.

Citizen Apps to Solve Complex Urban Problems – Journal of Urban Technology

I have a paper accepted for publication in the Journal of Urban Technology. Co-authored with Akshay Bhagwatwar (Kelley School of Business, Indiana University) this paper looks at how citizen apps are employed to solve complex urban problems.

Abstract:

Tackling complex urban problems requires us to examine and leverage diverse sources of information. Today, cities of all kinds and sizes capture a large amount of information in real-time. Data is captured on transportation patterns, electricity and water consumption, citizen use of government services (e.g. parking meters), and even on weather events. Through open data initiatives, government agencies are making information available to citizens. In turn, citizens are building applications that exploit this information to solve local urban problems. Citizens are also building platforms where they can share information regarding government services. Information that was previously unavailable is now being used to gauge quality of services, choose services, and report illegal and unethical behaviors (e.g. requesting bribes). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to examine the range of citizen applications (‘citizen apps’) targeted to solve urban issues and their ensuing impacts on planning, decision-making, problem solving, and urban governance. We examine citizen apps that address a wide range of urban issues from those that solve public transportation challenges to those advance management public utilities and services and even public safety.

Citation: Desouza, K.C., and Bhagwatwar, A. “Opening up Information for Tackling Complex Urban Problems:  A Study of Citizen Apps,” Journal of Urban Technology, Forthcoming.