Swarm-Based Medicine

Paul Martin Putora and Jan Oldenburgin the Journal of Medical Internet Research: “Humans, armed with Internet technology, exercise crowd intelligence in various spheres of social interaction ranging from predicting elections to company management. Internet-based interaction may result in different outcomes, such as improved response capability and decision-making quality.
The direct comparison of swarm-based medicine with evidence- or eminence-based is interesting, but these concepts should be perceived as complementing each other and working independently of each other. Optimal decision making depends on a balance of personal knowledge and swarm intelligence, taking into account the quality of each, with their weight in decisions being adapted accordingly. The possibility of balancing controversial standpoints and achieving acceptable conclusions for the majority of participants has been an important task of scientific and medical conferences since the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. Our swarm continues with this interconnecting synchronization at an unprecedented speed and is, thanks to eVotes, Internet forums, and the like, more reactive than ever. Faster changes in our direction of movement, like a school of fish, are becoming possible. Information spreads from one individual to another. It is unconscious, but with our own dance we influence the rest of the beehive.
Within an environment, individual behavior determines the behavior of the collective and vice versa. Internet technology has dramatically changed the environment we behave in. Traditionally, medical information was provided to patients as well as to physicians by experts. This intermediation was characterized by an expert standing between sources of information and the user. Currently, and probably even more so in the future, Web 2.0 and appropriate algorithms enable users to rely on the guidance or behavior of their peers in selecting and consuming information. This is one of many processes facilitated by medicine 2.0 and is described as “apomediation”. Apomediation, whether implicit or explicit, increases the influence of individuals on others. For an individual to adapt its behavior within a swarm, other individuals need to be perceived and their actions reacted upon. Through apomediation, more individuals take part in the swarm.
Our patients are better informed; second opinions can be sought via the Internet within hours. Our individual behavior is influenced by online resources as well as digital communication with our colleagues. This change in individual behavior influences the way we find, understand, and adopt guidelines. Societies representing larger groups within the swarms use this technology to create recommendations. This process is influenced by individuals and previous actions of the community; these then in return influence individual behavior. Information technology has a major impact on the lifecycle of guidelines and recommendations. There is no entry and exit point for IT in this regard. With increasing influence on individual behavior, its influence on collective behavior increases, influencing the other direction to the same extent.
Dynamic changes in movement of the swarm and within the swarm may lead to individuals leaving the herd. These may influence the herd to move in the direction of the outliers. At the same time, an individual leaving a flock or swarm is exposed. Physicians as well as clinical centers expose themselves when they leave the group for the sake of innovation. Negative results and failure might lead to legal exposure should treatments fail.
The perception of swarm behavior itself changes the way we approach guidelines. When several guidelines are published, being aware of them as a result of interaction increases our awareness for bias. Major deviations from other recommendations warrant scrutiny. The perception of swarm behavior and embracing the knowledge of the swarm may lead to an optimized use of resources. Information that has already been obtained may be incorporated directly by agents, enabling them to build on this and establish new knowledge—as social learning agents”

UK: Good law

“The good law initiative is an appeal to everyone interested in the making and publishing of law to come together with a shared objective of making legislation work well for the users of today and tomorrow…People find legislation difficult. The volume of statutes and regulations, their piecemeal structure, and their level of detail and frequent amendments, make legislation hard to understand and difficult to comply with. That can hinder economic activity. It can create burdens for businesses and communities. It can obstruct good government, and it can undermine the rule of law…
Good law is not a checklist, or a call for more process. It straddles four areas that have traditionally been regarded as separate domains. We think that they are inter-connected, and we invite good law partners to consider each of them from the different perspectives of citizens, professional users and legislators.

Diagram with 'Good law' in the centre and how it interacts with the following questions: How much detail?  Is this law necessary?  Does it duplicate, or conflict with, another law? Do we know what the likely readership is? Is the language easy to understa
Good law from the perspectives of citizens, professional users and legislators…
Good law sits naturally alongside:

Civics for a Digital Age

Jathan Sadowski  in the Atlantic on “Eleven principles for relating to cities that are automated and smart: Over half of the world’s population lives in urban environments, and that number is rapidly growing according to the World Health Organization. Many of us interact with the physical environments of cities on a daily basis: the arteries that move traffic, the grids that energize our lives, the buildings that prevent and direct actions. For many tech companies, though, much of this urban infrastructure is ripe for a digital injection. Cities have been “dumb” for millennia. It’s about time they get “smart” — or so the story goes….
Before accepting the techno-hype as a fait accompli, we should consider the implications such widespread technological changes might have on society, politics, and life in general. Urban scholar and historian Lewis Mumford warned of “megamachines” where people become mere components — like gears and transistors — in a hierarchical, human machine. The proliferation of smart projects requires an updated way of thinking about their possibilities, complications, and effects.
A new book, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, by Anthony Townsend, a research director at the Institute for the Future, provides some groundwork for understanding how these urban projects are occurring and what guiding principles we might use in directing their development. Townsend sets out to sketch a new understanding of “civics,” one that will account for new technologies.
The foundation for his theory speaks to common, worthwhile concerns: “Until now, smart-city visions have been controlling us. What we need is a new social code to bring meaning and to exert control over the technological code of urban operating systems.” It’s easy to feel like technologies — especially urban ones that are, at once, ubiquitous and often unseen to city-dwellers — have undue influence over our lives. Townsend’s civics, which is based on eleven principles, looks to address, prevent, and reverse that techno-power.”

The Contours of Crowd Capability

New paper by Prashant Shukla and John Prpi: “The existence of dispersed knowledge has been a subject of inquiry for more than six decades. Despite the longevity of this rich research tradition, the “knowledge problem” has remained largely unresolved both in research and practice, and remains “the central theoretical problem of all social science”. However, in the 21st century, organizations are presented with opportunities through technology to potentially benefit from the dispersed knowledge problem to some extent. One such opportunity is represented by the recent emergence of a variety of crowd-engaging information systems (IS).
In this vein, Crowdsourcing  is being widely studied in numerous contexts, and the knowledge generated from these IS phenomena is well-documented. At the same time, other organizations are leveraging dispersed knowledge by putting in place IS-applications such as Predication Markets to gather large sample-size forecasts from within and without the organization. Similarly, we are also observing many organizations using IS-tools such as “Wikis” to access the knowledge of dispersed populations within the boundaries of the organization. Further still, other organizations are applying gamification techniques to accumulate Citizen Science knowledge from the public at large through IS.
Among these seemingly disparate phenomena, a complex ecology of crowd- engaging IS has emerged, involving millions of people all around the world generating knowledge for organizations through IS. However, despite the obvious scale and reach of this emerging crowd-engagement paradigm, there are no examples of research (as far as we know), that systematically compares and contrasts a large variety of these existing crowd-engaging IS-tools in one work. Understanding this current state of affairs, we seek to address this significant research void by comparing and contrasting a number of the crowd-engaging forms of IS currently available for organizational use.

To achieve this goal, we employ the Theory of Crowd Capital as a lens to systematically structure our investigation of crowd-engaging IS. Employing this parsimonious lens, we first explain how Crowd Capital is generated through Crowd Capability in organizations. Taking this conceptual platform as a point of departure, in Section 3, we offer an array of examples of IS currently in use in modern practice to generate Crowd Capital. We compare and contrast these emerging IS techniques using the Crowd Capability construct, therein highlighting some important choices that organizations face when entering the crowd- engagement fray. This comparison, which we term “The Contours of Crowd Capability”, can be used by decision-makers and researchers alike, to differentiate among the many extant methods of Crowd Capital generation. At the same time, our comparison also illustrates some important differences to be found in the internal organizational processes that accompany each form of crowd-engaging IS. In section 4, we conclude with a discussion of the limitations of our work.”

Introducing Socrata’s Open Data Magazine: Open Innovation

“Socrata is dedicated to telling the story of open data as it evolves, which is why we have launched a quarterly magazine, “Open Innovation.”
As innovators push the open data movement forward, they are transforming government and public engagement at every level. With thousands of innovators all over the world – each with their own successes, advice, and ideas – there is a tremendous amount of story for us to tell.
The new magazine features articles, advice, infographics, and more dedicated exclusively to the open data movement. The first issue, Fall 2013, will cover topics such as:

  • What is a Chief Data Officer?
  • Who should be on your open data team?
  • How do you publish your first open data set?

It will also include four Socrata case studies and opinion pieces from some of the industry’s leading innovators…
The magazine is currently free to download or read online through the Socrata website. It is optimized for viewing on tablets and smart phones, with plans in the works to make the magazine available through the Kindle Fire and iTunes magazine stores.
Check out the first issue of Open Innovation at www.socrata.com/magazine.”

From Crowd-Sourcing Potholes to Community Policing

New paper by Manik Suri (GovLab): “The tragic Boston Marathon bombing and hair-raising manhunt that ensued was a sobering event. It also served as a reminder that emerging “civic technologies” – platforms and applications that enable citizens to connect and collaborate with each other and with government – are more important today than ever before. As commentators have noted, local police and federal agents utilized a range of technological platforms to tap the “wisdom of the crowd,” relying on thousands of private citizens to develop a “hive mind” that identified two suspects within a record period of time.
In the immediate wake of the devastating attack on April 15th, investigators had few leads. But within twenty-four hours, senior FBI officials, determined to seek “assistance from the public,” called on everyone with information to submit all media, tips, and leads related to the Boston Marathon attack. This unusual request for help yielded thousands of images and videos from local Bostonians, tourists, and private companies through technological channels ranging from telephone calls and emails to Flickr posts and Twitter messages. In mere hours, investigators were able to “crowd-source” a tremendous amount of data – including thousands of images from personal cameras, amateur videos from smart phones, and cell-tower information from private carriers. Combing through data from this massive network of “eyes and ears,” law enforcement officials were quickly able to generate images of two lead suspects – enabling a “modern manhunt” to commence immediately.
Technological innovations have transformed our commercial, political, and social realities. These advances include new approaches to how we generate knowledge, access information, and interact with one another, as well as new pathways for building social movements and catalyzing political change. While a significant body of academic research has focused on the role of technology in transforming electoral politics and social movements, less attention has been paid to how technological innovation can improve the process of governance itself.
A growing number of platforms and applications lie at this intersection of technology and governance, in what might be termed the “civic technology” sector. Broadly speaking, this sector involves the application of new information and communication technologies – ranging from robust social media platforms to state-of-the-art big data analysis systems – to address public policy problems. Civic technologies encompass enterprises that “bring web technologies directly to government, build services on top of government data for citizens, and change the way citizens ask, get, or need services from government.” These technologies have the potential to transform governance by promoting greater transparency in policy-making, increasing government efficiency, and enhancing citizens’ participation in public sector decision-making.

StartUp Genome

Kauffman Foundation press release: “What are the fastest growing startups in my city? Which of them are hiring? Who are the founders and investors in my industry that I should meet given the stage I’m at in my entrepreneurial journey?

These are the questions local entrepreneurs and city leaders often ask, and finding the correct answers can be time-consuming, if not impossible.
The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation today announced a grant to an organization that has a tool to help them find the answers. Startup Genome is a worldwide network of volunteer curators who create up-to-date and accurate maps of the entrepreneurial communities in which they live and work….
Startup Genome’s goal is to recruit 1,000 local curators who will populate startup community data in their city’s maps. Currently, 332 curators are curating maps in 271 cities and 57 countries. So far they’ve collected data on more than 26,000 founders, 84,000 startups, 5,800 investors and more than 18,000 deals. Curators can be entrepreneurs, investors, accelerator program managers, Startup Weekend organizers, community builders, students, journalists and more…
Startup Genome launched a new website last week at www.startupgenome.com with improved searches, speed, curator tools; updated statistics and industry pages; and responsive design for mobile phones. The site will continue to develop data automation tools, integrations and partnerships with other online sources such as CrunchBase, Angel List and LinkedIn.”

Using mobile phones to fix the holes in local government

Prof. Hannah Thinyane at IBP: “I live in Makana Municipality, one like many others in South Africa that is struggling to provide adequate basic services, such as water, sanitation, and electricity, to its residents….
We came up with a question that we would try to answer: Can we use mobile phones to increase citizen participation in local government? In particular, can we use mobile phones to facilitate dialogue between residents and their municipality about service delivery? We didn’t want to gather the information to provide “band-aid” fixes; instead we wanted to see if citizens could gather information via mobile phones to engage with government processes using PSAM’s social accountability monitoring (SAM) methodology. SAM involves citizen engagement in each of the five basic governance processes: strategic planning and resource allocation; expenditure management; performance management; public integrity management; and oversight.
MobiSAM is our answer. MobiSAM is a polling framework and platform that allows municipalities to ask residents questions like “do you have adequate water pressure?” and automatically collates reported cases of poor services and provides a visualization mapping these. The municipality then has the ability to respond to registered users via SMS or email to update them on reported cases or to inform them of planned or unplanned service delivery problems.
There are a number of other SMS-based systems available that support local governments in gathering “real time” information from their residents. The difference between those systems and MobiSAM is that MobiSAM provides “real time” feedback to the respondents, allowing them to see other cases reported in the region.  Also mobile data is currently significantly cheaper than SMS, reducing the cost of participation to residents.”

GovLab Seeks Open Data Success Stories

Wyatt Kash in InformationWeek: “A team of open government advocates, led by former White House aide Beth Novek, has launched a campaign to identify 500 examples of how freely available government data is being put to profitable use in the private sector.Open Data 500 is part of a broader effort by New York University’s Governance Lab (GovLab) to conduct the “first real, comprehensive study of the use of open government data in the private sector,” said Joel Gurin, founder of OpenDataNow.com and senior adviser at GovLab.
Novek, who served in the White House as the first U.S. deputy CTO and led the White House Open Government Initiative from 2009-2011, founded GovLab while also teaching at the MIT Media Lab and NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
In an interview with InformationWeek Government, Gurin explained that the goal of GovLab, and the Open Data 500 project, is to show how technology and new uses of data can make government more effective, and create more of a partnership between government and the public. “We’re also trying to draw on more public expertise to solve government problems,” he said….
Gurin said Open Data 500 will primarily look at U.S.-based, revenue-producing companies or organizations where government data is a key resource for their business. While the GovLab will focus initially on the use of federal data, it will also look at cases where entrepreneurs are making use of state or local data, but in scalable fashion.
“This goes one step further than the datapaloozas” championed by U.S. CTO Todd Park to showcase tools developed by the private sector using government data. “We’re trying to show how we can make data sets even more impactful and useful.”
Gurin said the GovLab team hopes to complete the study by the end of this year. The team has already identified 150 companies as candidates. To submit your company for consideration, visit thegovlab.org/submit-your-company; to submit another company, visit thegovlab.org/open500

Foundations of Digital Government

New book by Daniel Veit and Jan Huntgeburth: “Digital government consists in the purposeful use of information and communication technologies (ICT), in particular the internet, to transform the relationship between government and society in a positive manner. This book focuses on the current status, prospects and foundations of digital government. Integrating examples and cases from administrative practice, it covers all important aspects of digital government management. Learning outcomes include

  • Understanding the implications of the internet for government and society
  • Gaining deeper insights into the concept and opportunities of digital democracy
  • Understanding the challenges of moving public services online

Table of Contents: Preface.- 1 Introduction to Digital Government.- 2 Impact of Digital Government.- 3 The Digital Divide.- 4 Legal Aspects of Digital Service Delivery.- 5 Online One-Stop Government.- 6 Open Government.- 7 E-Procurement.- 8 E-Voting.- 9 E-Participation.- 10 Lesson Learned and Outlook.”