Assessing the Relevance of Governmental Characteristics to Address Wicked Problems in Turbulent Times

New paper co-authored with James Denford, Gregory Dawson, and Aroon Manoharan has been published in Public Management Review.

Governments have long faced traditional bureaucratic problems and developed a set of mechanisms to handle them, but few studies have examined the government’s underlying characteristics in addressing such problems. Wicked problems – those with unclear definitions, causal complexity and conflicting goals – are increasingly emerging and are frequently observed in highly turbulent environments – those where variables behave in unpredictable ways. We study the relevance of a range of governmental characteristics during the COVID-19 pandemic and find that, while all government characteristics are sometimes relevant, no single characteristic is always relevant and so they are best treated as a portfolio.

To access the paper, please click [LINK]

Mitigating Urban Heat

New paper co-authored with Matthias Tuczek, Kenan Degirmenci, Richard T. Watson, TanYigitcanlar, and Michael H. Breitner published in Urban Climate.

Mitigating urban heat with optimal distribution of vegetation and buildings

The impact of climate change on cities poses a growing global threat, which is exacerbated by the urban heat island (UHI) effect. The optimal distribution of vegetation and buildings in urban areas is critical to control the UHI effect and stabilize long-term temperature changes. In this article, we develop an optimization model to maximize revenue while limiting UHI intensity under several restrictions. We run simulations in two urban areas in Brisbane, Australia to test the model’s theoretical predictions. Our results show that a revenue increase by AUD 4.32 billion in Brisbane City and by AUD 1.19 billion in Hamilton involves an increase of the maximum temperature difference between the developed and undeveloped sites from 4 to 5° C through an increase of buildings and thus a decrease of porosity and an increase of population density.

To access the paper [LINK].

International Dialogue: Emerging Technology for Response and Recovery

In a post-pandemic world, homeland security and border control agencies are being tasked with transforming how they respond and operate in a highly digitalized environment, while ensuring safety and prosperity of citizens and country.

Critical challenges that agencies face include the increasing volume of incidents and emergencies, overly complex trade and immigration processes, and evolving threats to borders and customs. Governments can leverage data, AI, intelligent automation, and other emerging technologies to address these complex challenges—while also freeing up critical human resources for high value missions.

To address these key issues, the IBM Center for The Business of Government hosted an international dialogue in September 2021 attended by CIOs and IT leaders with the Australia Department of Home Affairs, the Singapore Ministry of Home Affairs, and U.S. Department of Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection. These three dynamic leaders engaged in an interactive dialogue, joined by nearly 50 attendees from across the globe.

I draw on this discussion to produce a report providing keen insights about leveraging technologies to improve operations and security across borders. Participants addressed supply chain assurance, opening borders amidst the global fight against COVID-19, and the role of data, AI, and other technologies to support border security. The wide-ranging discussion also touched on addressing the needs of the future, anticipating new threats, and developing response strategies. These strategies—which rest on hybrid, multi-cloud environments—include operational capabilities that can stand up “on demand” to address rapidly shifting threats.

To read the report, please click here.

Interagency Collaboration within the City Emergency Management Network

New paper co-authored with Bo Fan and Zhoupeng Li published in Disasters.

Interagency collaboration within the city emergency management network: a case study of Super Ministry Reform in China

Emergencies continue to become ever more complex; responding to them, therefore, often is beyond the capabilities and capacities of any single public agency. Hence, collaboration among these actors is necessary to prepare for, respond to, and recover from such events. This seldom occurs in an effective or efficient manner, however. Drawing on resource dependence theory and the concept of social capital, this paper reveals that different types of collaborative relationships exist within the collaborative network. Super Ministry Reform of Emergency Management in China serves as a case in point. By evaluating network efficiency and classifying the collaborative relationships of involved government agencies, four types are identified: resource-redundant; resource-complementary; resource-dependent; and resource-isolated. The different influences of collaborative relationships explain why the reform is not that effective, although it has led to the merger of several core departments in the emergency management network. The findings are a reminder to consider network structure and collaboration types when engaging in institutional design.

To access the article: [LINK]
To access a full-text, read-only version of the article: [LINK]


Artificial Intelligence in the Public Sector: A Maturity Model

The IBM Center for the Business of Government released my new report today.

Artificial Intelligence in the Public Sector: A Maturity Model

The technology is revolutionizing the way we derive value and insights from data in order to improve our daily lives. In addition, governments gather a treasure trove of pertinent data that can be used to execute important missions and improve services to the citizen. An effective AI program can greatly enhance the ability of the public sector to deliver on that promise.

The challenge has always been to design and implement an AI program that has all the critical elements in place to successfully achieve the goal of improved mission delivery and citizen services. An initial report commissioned by the IBM Center for The Business of Government, Delivering Artificial Intelligence in Government: Challenges and Opportunities, proposed an initial maturity model that gave public agencies a starting point for developing an AI capability. Subsequently, we have had the opportunity to fine tune the model, based on extensive research on how the public sector was deploying AI, documenting successful use cases and highlighting pitfalls and lessons learned.

The revised maturity model was shared with experienced public sector practitioners and feedback from these discussions led to a further revision. The revised model was then shared with a final group of reviewers that included public sector executives (both within and beyond the information systems domain), academics, and consultants.

We hope that this report provides public sector leaders a view into the “art of the possible” by emphasizing how AI programs can accelerate the transformation of government programs to better serve the public and by providing them a framework for establishing a successful AI program. We will continue to explore this topic and will provide further updates as the use of AI in the public sector continues to evolve.

To access the report, please click [Report]

A blog post on the report by Margie Graves (Visiting Fellow, IBM Center for the Business of Government, former Deputy Federal CIO for the Office of Management and Budget) is available here: [Post]

What are the key factors affecting smart city transformation readiness? Evidence from Australian cities

New paper co-authored with Tan Yigitcanlar, Kenan Degirmenci, and Luke Butler published in Cities.

Transformation into a prosperous smart city has become an aspiration for many local governments across the globe. Despite its growing importance, smart city transformation readiness is still an understudied area of research. In order to bridge this knowledge gap, this paper identifies the key factors affecting smart city transformation readiness in the context of Australian cities. The empirical investigation conducted in this study places Australian local government areas (n = 180) under the smart city microscope to quantitatively evaluate, through a multiple regression analysis, the key factors affecting their urban smartness levels—a proxy used for smart city transformation readiness. The findings disclose that the following factors determine about two-thirds (65%) of the smart city transformation readiness: (a) Close distance to domestic airport; (b) Low remoteness value; (c) High population density; (d) Low unemployment level, and; (e) High labour productivity. The study findings and generated insights inform urban policymakers, managers and planners on their policy, planning and practice decisions concerning smart cities.

To access the paper, please click [LINK]

What Explains Governments Interest in Artificial Intelligence?

New paper co-authored with Samar Fatima, Greg Dawson, and Jim Denford published in Economic Analysis & Policy

Since 2015, several countries have shown significant interest in artificial intelligence (AI) and have released national-level AI strategic plans. These plans reflect the country’s rationale for embarking on AI. To identify what factors influence the AI approach of a country, this study employs signaling theory to decode strategic national AI plans and understand each country’s rationale. The study adapts the typology of signals and plots AI information given in national AI plans (AI-enabled public services, research, data, algorithmic ethics, governance) in a matrix of intentionality and veracity considering socio-economic and political conditions. Our findings indicate that countries with high democracy scores are more likely than less democratic countries to prioritize ethical and governance issues of AI, however, this is more pronounced in democratic countries with a lower technology base. The results also suggest that advanced research capability and data accessibility for AI is a precondition to developing a nationwide AI system.

To access the paper, please click [LINK]

Smart Governance in the Contemporary Era: Journal of Urban Affairs

Naim Kapucu (University of Central Florida), Jiannan Wu (Shanghai Jiao Tong University), and I have co-edited a special issue of Journal of Urban Affairs on smart governance in the contemporary era.

In the 21st century, we have seen an increase in activity around making cities “smarter” and “intelligent” through the creative application of information systems. In an ideal world, a smarter (and intelligent) city should be able to leverage data in real time to increase its situational awareness, thereby enabling effective and efficient decision-making at the individual, organizational, and collective levels to advance its goals of resilience, sustainability, and livability. From a design, planning, policy, and implementation perspective, however, our theoretical and empirical knowledge on smart cities is limited. One reason for this is the simple fact that the term smart city is nebulous. Some 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 a high level of citizen engagement in the design and governance of the space as a key attribute of smarter cities. It is our pleasure to put forth five papers as part of this special issue on smart governance across cities in the contemporary era. The papers provide guidelines for cities to consider for designing and managing smart communities.

To access the issue, please click [LINK]

Transforming public records management – JASIST

Paula Dootson, Mary Tate, and Peter Townson and I have an article in the current issue of Journal of the Association for Information Science and Technology (JASIST). 

Transforming public records management: Six key insights

Records management in the public sector is integral for delivering public good. However, several institutional challenges inhibit the required implementation of innovative and information?centric tools to transform records management in response to the challenges of digitization and to capitalize on new opportunities in the digital economy. In this article, we make recommendations to overcome institutional and legislative barriers to transform records management in the public sector.

To access the article, please click [LINK]