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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.

Smart Cities Financing Guide – Smart Cities Council

SmartCitiesFinancingIn 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.

Intelligent City Chapter for Atlas of Cities

ICMy chapter on Intelligent Cities will appear in the Atlas of Cities (Princeton University Press) edited by Paul L. Knox (Virginia Tech).

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:

  1. Liberating Data
  2. Infrastructure
  3. Sustainability
  4. Mobility
  5. Entrepreneurship
  6. Quality of Life
  7. 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.

TechniCity – MOOC – A Vision for Smart Cities

coursera_logoWhile 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!

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.

Designing and Planning for Smart(er) Cities – Practicing Planner

aicpsignatureYou can find my article on smart cities in the current issue of Practicing Planner.

practicingplannerlogotop
Abstract: Within the past 24 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 (September 2011). Industry players such as IBM and Siemens have specific programs and practices dedicated to advancing the cause of building smart cities. Despite its intuitive appeal, we have limited knowledge within the design, planning, and policy fields about the dimensions of the concept of smart cities, and limited practical experience regarding the barriers and potential opportunities. The term smart city is still new and appears to mean different things within different fields. In some ways the term is both 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. Even others consider the presence of high-level citizen engagement in the design and governance of the space as a key attribute of smarter cities. Therefore, no consensus exists within the academy on the characteristics of smart cities and how they fit within existing conceptual frameworks, such as sustainability and policy informatics. Although there is not yet consensus on a definition, I posit the following definition: A smart city is livable, resilient, sustainable, and designed through open and collaborative governance. The objective of this paper is to provide a preliminary conceptual framework for researchers, policymakers, and planners to apply in their design and development of smart cities. In light of the growing popular appeal of smart cities, I hope this essay will serve as a call to action for planners who must confront the day-to-day challenge of designing, developing, and retrofitting cities to make them smarter.

To access the article, please click here.