Source: December 8, 2017 – Governing
I will be giving research presentations at Renmin University (School of Public Administration and Policy) and Beijing Forestry University (School of Humanities and Social Sciences) on November 3, 2017
Technological Innovation and the Public: 3Ps - Purpose, Process, and Products
Technological innovations are fundamentally 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. I believe that research needs to be conducted in a manner that advances the greater public good, especially in fields that are of an applied nature. Academia has a special responsibility to generate knowledge that advances society. Studying complex phenomena requires us to undertake research that 1) draws on multiple disciplines, 2) engages a diverse group of stakeholders, 3) appreciates a plurality of research approaches, and 4) generates actionable solutions. Executing inter-disciplinary research is no easy feat to accomplish. Researchers face daunting challenges from the onset; beginning with the inception of ideas, continuing to the crafting of problem statements, executing the research process, and then communicating the results via publications in academic and practitioner outlets. However, these challenges should not be viewed as an excuse to abandon inter-disciplinary research in favor of narrowly focused research exercises. Drawing on over a dozen research projects, this presentation will highlight key strategic management challenges confronting public agencies as they try to keep up with the rapid pace of technological innovations. Opportunities for use-inspired research will be discussed. In addition, I will present a working model for executing inter-disciplinary research that has served me well. I will openly share some of the trials and tribulations that I have encountered along the way.
I am looking forward to my upcoming trip to Shanghai. I will deliver a keynote address at the 2017 Global Cities Forum hosted by the China Institute for Urban Governance at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
The Smart City Bandwagon: Have We Lost our Way?
Cities around the world are investing significant resources to transform themselves into smarter (more intelligent) entities. While there is no doubt that these efforts are important and valuable, I am troubled with how these efforts have evolved. Too often, I see efforts that focus predominantly on the technical and data elements of the equation, without much care to how they impact the social, economic, and civic elements. Drawing on my recent research, I will argue that we need to reframe the dominant conversation on smart cities. Cities across the globe have become more fragile over the last few years. Infrastructure, economic, social, political, and civic elements impact the level of fragility in a city. We need to focus our conversation on how we can use technology for social good to address issues such as a preserving and strengthening the social compact, implementing technical solutions responsibly, and designing governance frameworks that account for a diversity of interests, aspirations, and values. I will outline design practices to reflect upon as we work toward making our communities more livable, just, sustainable, and resilient. As John Christopher Jones reminds us " design everything on the assumption that people are not heartless or stupid but marvelously capable, given the chance.”
Cognitive Computing @ Brookings Institution Tech Tank
- “Learning from Public Sector Experimentation with Artificial Intelligence,” (w/Krishnamurthy, R. and Dawson, G.S.) June 23, 2017.
- “Chatbots Move Public Sector towards Artificial Intelligence,” (w/Krishnamurthy, R.) June 2, 2017.
Performance Analytics Project Report
- “The State of Performance Analytics in Local Government: Analysis of Measures,” (2/ Dawson, G.S., Ho, A. T-K., and Krishnamurthy, R.) Technical Report, Alliance for Innovation, April 2017, 32 pages. (see project page)
- Panel proposal accepted for the 2017 Annual Conference of the Assoc. for Budgeting & Financial Management (w/ Ho, A. T-K., Thurmaier, K., de Jong, M., Joyce, P., and Savage, J.)
Information Systems Research that Makes a Difference: A Modest Proposal
I believe that research needs to be conducted in a manner that advances the greater public good, especially in fields that are of an applied nature (business, engineering, public policy, etc.). Research done with the sole intention of producing a journal article or conference paper is not good enough. Academia has a special responsibility to generate knowledge that advances society. Studying complex phenomenon requires us to undertake research that (1) draws on multiple disciplines, (2) engages a diverse group of stakeholders, (3) appreciates a plurality of research approaches, and (4) communicates to a diverse set of audiences. Executing inter-disciplinary research is no easy feat to accomplish. Researchers face daunting challenges from the onset, beginning with the inception of ideas, and then continuing to the crafting of problem statements, executing the research process, and communicating the results via publications in academic and practitioner outlets. However, these challenges should not be viewed as an excuse to abandon inter-disciplinary research in favor of narrowly focused research exercises.
In this talk, I will offer personal reflections on how to structure research programs to maximize several goals. First, to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the research process. Second, to maximize the potential that research outputs will be accepted by scholarly and practitioner communities. Third, to work with stakeholders to leverage the knowledge that is generated, to advance societal outcomes. I will share examples from a wide range of projects to elaborate on how scholars can build agile, responsive, and responsible research projects that have relevance beyond the ivory tower.
I will present a method (process) for executing inter-disciplinary research that has served me well. Illustrative examples of research projects will be used to exemplify this process and outline strategies for researchers to consider when conducting inter-disciplinary research projects. I will pay particular attention to global research projects that are interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to sharing lessons about what works, I will openly share some of the trials and tribulations that I have encountered along the way.
Data sets are growing so large and complex that using them is like drinking from a fire hose. Feeling overwhelmed? Help is on the way.
Big data isn’t the problem; it’s the solution — and this PAS Report shows how to use it. Arizona State University researchers Kevin C. Desouza and Kendra L. Smith have teamed up on a practical guide to channeling the power of big data. Together they look at how planners around the world are turning big data into real answers for smart cities.
Learn how Dublin is gearing up geospatial data to steer traffic. See how Singapore is collecting citizens’ selfies to track smog. Discover how Detroit is crowdsourcing creative ideas for its 50-year plan. And find out how the U.S. government is planning to use Yelp to improve its services.
What’s the big idea for your community? Read Big Data and Planning for a look at trends and tools you can tap into today.
Page Count: 104
Date Published: Dec. 5, 2016
I am launching a new project in the area of Cognitive Computing Systems. Below is a brief description of the effort. You can read a recent post that I did for Brookings here. If you are interested in collaborating on this project, please contact me.
Every major technology player is investing serious financial and human capital into the development of Cognitive Computing Systems (CCSs). CCSs leverage artificial intelligence and machine intelligence techniques to build systems that can 1) learn from interactions, 2) analyze large datasets in an effective and efficient manner, and 3) increase the of precision of outcomes overtime through continuous process of analyzing and learning from data. Put more simply, CCSs are inspired by the potential to mimic how the human brain acquires, analyzes, and employs data to make decisions. Research and development efforts and emerging prototypes point to the fact that CCSs have significant potential to cause major disruptions in all facets of the public sector. In addition, if one considers CCSs along with other emerging technologies (e.g. autonomous vehicles or fully connected machine-to-machine networks), the magnitude of disruption is potentially greater. Public agencies need to take a more proactive approach towards 1) understanding the nature of CCSs, 2) appreciating their potential to enable agencies to increase performance and optimize resource allocations, and 3) charting pathways towards adopting, experimenting with, and implementing these systems. This project will focus on providing public managers with actionable insights on the above-mentioned three issues.
Today, CCSs are being designed to support human decision-makers by providing them evidence-based solutions through analyzing large quantities of data within a domain. In an ideal world, according to technology enthusiasts, these systems should be able to make decisions on their own, thereby removing some of the traditional concerns with human decision-makers (e.g. prejudice, errors, etc.). CCSs will also be networked with other such systems so as to conduct transactions without human intervention. While there is no doubting that the sophistication of these systems will increase over time and their costs will decrease making them affordable, serious public policy and management considerations must be addressed to fully leverage their potential. Our project will focus on studying how public agencies can take a proactive approach to preparing themselves for CCSs. We will not only study the technical and organizational issues associated with CCSs, but take a close look at the social and public policy issues.
Our research methodology will take a multi-prong approach. First, we will document lessons learned from several of our ongoing projects that include elements of CSSs (e.g. machine learning algorithms, data mining, sensor-networks, etc.). Second, we will collect case studies on various CSSs projects in the public sector. We will seek to collect cases beyond the US, and will also look at CSSs projects at various scales. Through the analysis of these cases we will seek to uncover issues and challenges associated with implanting CCSs. In addition, these cases will enable us to tease apart various common themes that various stakeholders within the CCSs face as they conceive of, launch, and manage these projects. Third, we will leverage our vast network of public sector CIOs, technology enthusiasts, futurists, and innovators to conduct in-depth interviews on CCSs in the public sphere. Our interviews will focus on technical, organizational, policy, and social dimensions of CCSs and their role in 1) transforming public agencies, 2) innovating policy design, implantation, and evaluation, and 3) the nature of data, analytics, and systems as a public good.
The IBM Center for the Business of Government has generously provided support for the first report from this project.
Over the last few months, I have been working with my research team on several papers that examine how the 2016 US Elections are playing out on Facebook. We have several research notes on our project published on Brookings Institution TechTank Blog.
- Tracking presidential campaigns on Facebook
- Which topics do presidential candidates discuss on Facebook?
- What is the tone of the 2016 presidential campaign on Facebook?
We also have a paper accepted at the 2016 IEEE/ACM International Conference on Advances in Social Networks Analysis and Mining.
Social networking sites (SNS), such as Facebook and Twitter, are important spaces for political engagement. SNS have become common elements in political participation, campaigns, and elections. However, little is known about the dynamics between candidate posts and commentator sentiment in response to those posts on SNS. This study enriches computational political science by studying the 2016 U.S. elections and how candidates and commentators engage on Facebook. This paper also examines how online activity might be connected to offline activity and vice versa. We extracted 9,700 Facebook posts by five presidential candidates (Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders, Ted Cruz, and John Kasich) from their official Facebook pages and 12,050,595 comments on those posts. We employed topic modeling, sentiment analysis, and trends detection using wavelet transforms to discover topics, trends, and reactions. Our findings suggest that Republican candidates are more likely to share information on controversial events that have taken place during the election cycle, while Democratic candidates focus on social policy issues. As expected, commentators on Republican candidate pages express negative sentiments toward current public policies as they seldom support decisions made by the Obama administration, while commentators on democratic candidate pages are more likely to express support for continuation or advancement of existing policies. However, the significance (strong/weak) and nature (positive/negative) of sentiments varied between candidates within political parties based on perceived credibility of the candidate’s degree of credibility on a given issue. Additionally, we explored correlation between online trends of comments/sentiment and offline events. When analyzing the trend patterns, we found that changes in online trends are driven by three factors: 1) popular post, 2) offline debates, and 3) candidates dropping out of the race.
Research Team: Saud Alashri, Srinivasa Srivatsav Kandala, Vikash Bajaj, Roopek Ravi, Anish Pradhan, and Kendra L. Smith
Will be heading to Michigan later this month to keynote the 2016 Technology Forum.
Realizing the Promise of (Open, Mobile, and Big) Data and Technologies for Local Governments
How can we harness data towards innovative local governance that advances our communities? Today, we have all heard about open data, mobile data, and even big (and very big) data. We have also seen a rise in civic hackathons, competitions, and challenges that engage innovators to solve complex problems and promote the use of data analytics for global development. In this presentation, I will use a wide assortment of cases to illustrate a key point, i.e., while we have made great strides in leveraging technology and data, we have undermined its potential due to an under-appreciation of governance and policy nuances. Do not despair! I will outline a series of actionable steps that can be undertaken to rectify this deficiency. Specifically, I will focus on how can we create data-driven development labs to tackle some of our most vexing social and policy challenges.
WHEN: Friday, April 29, 2016, 8:30am-4:00pm
WHERE: Ottawa County Fillmore Complex, West Olive, MI (Map). Enter parking lot B, forum is in main conference room of the County Administration building, second floor, west wing.
Governing Mega-Scale IT Projects: The Global Public Sector Experience
Information Technology (IT) projects are commonplace in the public sector. National, regional, and local governments continue to invest substantial resources into designing, developing, and maintaining information systems. The scale, scope, and potential impacts of IT projects continue to increase. Today, it is typical to find mega-scale IT projects in the public sector. Unfortunately, these projects seldom play out as planned. Mega-scale IT projects often fail to meet expectations, and when they fail, they do so magnificently. In this presentation, I will share lessons learned from a study of six mega-scale IT projects in the public sector. I will specifically call out governance issues associated with contracting, consultants, financing, human resources, leadership, and project management. [Flyer]
Designing Research Programs: Processes, Outputs, and Outcomes
I believe that research needs to be conducted in a manner that advances the greater public good, especially in fields that are of an applied nature (business, engineering, public policy, etc.). Research done with the sole intention of producing a journal article or conference paper is not good enough. Academia has a special responsibility to generate knowledge that advances society. In this talk, I will offer personal reflections on how to structure research programs to maximize several goals. First, to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the research process. Second, to maximize the potential that research outputs will be accepted by scholarly and practitioner communities. Third, to work with stakeholders to leverage the knowledge that is generated, to advance societal outcomes. I will share examples from a wide assortment of projects to elaborate on how scholars can build agile, responsive, and responsible research projects that have relevance beyond the ivory tower. I will pay particular attention to global research projects that are interdisciplinary in nature. In addition to sharing lessons about what works, I will openly share some of the trials and tribulations that I have encountered along the way. [Flyer]