Familiar public services and institutions are in the early stage of radical renewal that may render them unrecognizable by 2050. New technologies and societal transformation are reconfiguring the interdependent world at unprecedented speed. New concepts and demands for more flexible and dynamic public service are emerging at all levels, from 'megapolitan' cities to supranational organizations.
I was also interviewed for a story in Wired on the US Department of Transportation's Smart City Challenge.
I am enjoying two weeks in Melbourne. I have been collaborating with colleagues from Deakin University and the University of Melbourne on research projects. On Tuesday, I will deliver a research seminar at the Faculty of Business and Law on IT Experiments for Social and Policy Innovation: A Design Science Perspective.
Information systems are critical assets that need to be strategically leveraged for social and policy innovation. In this presentation, I will highlight ongoing research projects showcasing how analytical, computational, and visualization technologies can be employed to solve some of the pressing global and public challenges from combating human trafficking to urbanization and sustainability. I will discuss these projects as learning experiments focusing on creating applied IT solutions while furthering evidence-driven policy design, implementation, and evaluation. Finally, a design-science inspired model to co-create innovative IT solutions will be presented.
On Wednesday, I will be spending the entire day meeting with researchers and faculty at the University of Melbourne.
Good news: We no longer have to talk about megascale IT projects. Large-scale ventures that typically cost $1 billion or more, megaprojects used to be all the rage, but they are quickly being superseded by petascale IT initiatives. Those projects can cost even more, involve complexity on a truly massive scale and require petaflops of computer processing. Despite the horrendous track record of delivering on even moderately complex IT projects, public-sector CIOs continue to embrace the design, planning and execution of petascale IT projects. To read more, please click here.
To view the article in the digital edition of the magazine, please click here.
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.
‘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.
In collaboration with my colleagues, David Swindell, Jonathan GS Koppell, and Kendra L. Smith, I authored the Smart Cities Financing Guide for the Smart Cities Council. This guide highlights 28 of the most promising financial tools — including alternatives to the traditional funding mechanisms municipalities have used for decades. It also includes:
- Detailed analyses of each option based on 10 characteristics to help decision makers easily identify the best tools for specific types of projects.
- Examples of how these tools are being used today.
The press release can be found here [LINK].
To access the guide, please click here [LINK]
About the Smart Cities Council
The Smart Cities Council is the trusted advisor to equip cities with tools and knowledge to cope with expanding populations, shrinking budgets and aging infrastructure. It is comprised of the world's foremost smart city practitioners advised by unbiased, independent experts, including top universities, national laboratories, standards bodies, climate advocacy groups and development banks. The Council’s goal is to accelerate the growth of smart cities worldwide by providing city leaders with best practices and vendor-neutral guidance on technology, finance, policy and, citizen engagement. For more information, view a brief introductory video about the Smart Cities Council.
A city, like any organization, thrives or fails depending on its ability to process signals from its environment. Cities have long been subject to shocks because the information systems designed to signal impending events in their internal or external environments were inadequate. The management of infrastructures, processes, and events within a city has traditionally been inefficient or ineffective because of an inability to harness data toward real-time decision-making. This has led to significant wastage of scarce resources and squandering of opportunities. Furthermore, until recently most citizens have been passive recipients of plans and programs devised by their elected officials. As the population in cities has exploded, the leveraging of the collective intelligence of diverse citizens toward the betterment of the city has remained elusive as a result of poorly designed participatory platforms—for example, the town hall meetings that are often used to solicit input but impose significant barriers on the participation of citizens. Urban planners and designers have historically focused on innovating for citizens rather than with citizens, or, better, providing citizens with the resources and capabilities to innovate for themselves.
Today, following advances in communication and computational technologies, cities are harnessing data and information with a view to becoming more “intelligent.” The adoption of mobile technologies and the diffusion of Internet connectivity has made information accessible to most individuals, even the poorest of the poor. Cities are embedding a wide assortment of technologies within their physical and social spheres so as to enable real-time processing of data to further the goal of smarter decision-making. In addition, cities are liberating data that was previously withheld from the public. Open data programs exist in many major cities through which data on a wide variety of operations and governance mechanisms are being made available. Citizens, in turn, are playing a more active role in shaping the future of their environments. Citizens are not only creating mobile apps that promote smarter ways of traversing the city and conducting various functions, but are also building online participatory platforms so as to source problems and solutions from their fellow dwellers and better manage public goods.
My chapter contains seven spreads that cover key elements of intelligent cities:
- Liberating Data
- Quality of Life
- Living Labs
The core city that I focused on is London and the secondary cities are Tokyo, Shanghai, Singapore, Stockholm, Sydney, Abu Dhabi, San Francisco, Boston, and Amsterdam.
While at Ohio State University, I recorded lectures for the TechniCity MOOC. This course is being offered by two of my colleagues, Jennifer Evans-Cowley, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Administration, City and Regional Planning Section, Ohio State University and Tom Sanchez, Professor, Urban Affairs and Planning, Virginia Tech. Check it out!