Posts

Fragile Cities in the Developed World: A Conceptual Framework

J. David Selby (PhD Candidate, School of Public AffairsArizona State University) and I have an article accepted in Cities.

Abstract: Cities, like any complex adaptive systems, may become increasingly fragile if not properly managed. To date, the literature has focused primarily on the examination of cities within fragile countries. This has resulted in a dearth of studies that have looked at how developed (or even advanced) cities that operate in relatively stable countries and/or environments might allow unresolved issues to accumulate in the city: degrading its ability to function. Studying fragility in developed cities is a worthwhile undertaking given their economic, social, and political significance. This paper puts forth a conceptual framework to understand the nature of fragile cities in the developed world. Our framework frames fragility as a function of unresolved fractures of social compacts that degrades a city’s ability to function over time and stress exacerbates its effects. Drawing on over two dozen incidents from developed cities, we ground the framework and illustrate its value.

To download a copy of the paper, please visit SSRN.

 

University of Pennsylvania – Democracy in the Crosshairs Conference

Heading to the University of Pennsylvania next week to attend the Democracy in the Crosshairs: Cyber Interference, Dark Money and Foreign Influence conference. The two-day event is a closed session. The conference is organized by the Center for Ethics & Rule of Law and the UPenn Law School. I co-authored a paper with Atif Ahmad  (University of Melbourne) for the conference.

Weaponizing Information Systems for Political Disruption: The Actor, Lever,Effects, and Response Taxonomy (ALERT)

Information systems continue to be used by actors who want to undermine public institutions and disrupt political systems. In recent times, actors have engaged in acts of cyber warfare ranging from attempts to compromise voting systems, spread false propaganda, use dark networks to illicitly fund campaigns, and even attack public infrastructure via technologies. Initial analysis points to the fact that most of these attempts have been successful in achieving their intended objectives. Given this reality, we expect them to intensify and be more creative in the future. In this paper, we take a critical look at the concept of weaponizing information systems for political disruption. Our analysis focuses on two specific forms of information systems enabled disruption. The first is direct attacks on information systems infrastructures employed in various facets of political campaigns and the election processes. The second is attacks that target public infrastructure and services, which impact trust in government and public institutions of the nation and indirectly impact political stability and governance regimes. We outline an Actor, Lever, Effects, and Response Taxonomy (ALERT) to understand the nuances associated with various types of options individuals, organizations, and nations have when it comes to weaponizing information systems for political gain and to cause public unrest.

Conference schedule is available here.

Seminar – Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet, Australia

I will deliver a seminar at the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet next week.

 

The Public Sector in a World of Autonomous Systems

Emerging technologies are fundamentally impacting and transforming all aspects of our society. I am particularly concerned with how technological innovations impact 1) the design of our public institutions, 2) the apparatuses through which we shape, implement, and evaluate public policies, and 3) our governance frameworks for public goods. All indications suggest that we are moving toward a world where autonomous systems will dictate how we interface and interact with other agents and objects in our society. We can take advantage of emerging technologies to make our societies more livable, just, resilient, and sustainable. We need bold imagination and action to shape the future we want. This talk will outline how the public sector can take a leadership role in the design, development, and deployment of autonomous systems.

September 26, 2018: 13.30-14.30

Unpacking Complexities of Mega-Scale Public Sector IT projects – Systèmes d’Information et Management

Page Header Isabelle Fagnot, Chen Ye, and I have a paper in the current issue of Systèmes d'Information et Management.
Mega-scale information technology (IT) projects in the public sector are significant undertakings operating within an ecosystem of stakeholders, resources, and constraints. The track record of these projects is abysmal. Employing an ecosystems lens, we study three failed mega-scale public sector IT projects: the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) Virtual Case File (VCF), the U.S.federal government’s HealthCare.gov project, and Great Britain’s National Programme for IT (NPfIT). A forensic analysis of these projects was conducted employing the Qualitative Media Analysis (QMA) methodology. The findings suggest several stakeholders in a public IT project assume roles analogous to different types of species in an ecosystem, with the public agency sponsoring the project as the keystone species. Specifically, the findings show that the public agency is susceptible to failure in hiring key personnel with proper knowledge and experience, and failure in responding to early signals alerting the impending implosion of the project ecosystem. In addition, flawed relationships between the public agency and contractors, and flawed relationship between the legislature and the public agency also contributed significantly to project failure.

Systèmes d'Information et Management (French Journal of Management Information Systems) is the major French language journals addressing information systems intended for organization management.

Mechanics for the Future – Salzburg Global Forum

Credit: Salzburg Global Seminar/Ela Grieshaber.

I am looking forward to participating in the Mechanics for the Future: How Can Governments Transform Themselves? session at the Salzburg Global Forum.

Governments worldwide are under pressure to meet complex needs as populations age, countries urbanize, and technology transforms lives and work. They have lead responsibility to prepare their societies for a radically changing world, yet face shrinking budgets and declining trust in the public sector. The machinery of government has changed, requiring governments to transform themselves, both in terms of the methodology they use and the people needed to implement the change.  What is the role of government in driving innovation?  How can countries and cities learn from each other?  How can governments recruit and retain the best people in public service with the right skills?  How can governments better harness the market, and strengthen constructive partnerships with civil society and the private sector?  What types of public communication work best to rebuild public trust?

See here for a list of attendees.

As part of the meeting, I will be leading a discussion on the potential for advances in artificial intelligence (AI) to transform how we govern. We will employ a case study that I co-authored with Richard T. Watson (Regents Professor and the J. Rex Fuqua Distinguished Chair for Internet Strategy, University of Georgia). The case study takes place in a country, Intelligensia, and is focused on deploying AI systems to modernize the national healthcare system and improve quality of life outcomes.

Delivering Artificial Intelligence in Government – New IBM Center for the Business of Government Report

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

Delivering Artificial Intelligence in Government: Challenges and Opportunities

This report reviews recent progress made in applying artificial intelligence to public sector service provision, drawing on lessons learned from commercial experience as well as burgeoning cognitive computing activity by Federal, State, local, and international governments.

To access the report, please click here.

Visiting Professor – Università Bocconi, March 2018

I will be spending time at the Università Bocconi during March 2018 as a Visiting Professor. I will deliver several lectures as part of the Innovation and Big Data in the Public Sector course taught by my colleague, Prof. Maria Cucciniello. In addition, I will be working on several research projects with colleagues in Milan.