Study says ‘specific’ weather forecasts can’t be made more than 10 days in advance


Matthew Cappucci at the Washington Post: “Imagine someone telling you the weather forecast for New Year’s Day today, two months in advance, with exact temperature bounds and rainfall to a hundredth of an inch. Sounds too good to be true, yes?

A new study in Science says it’s simply not possible. But just how far can we take a day-by-day forecast?

The practical limit to daily forecasting

“A skillful forecast lead time of midlatitude instantaneous weather is around 10 days, which serves as the practical predictability limit,” according to a study published in April in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences.

Those limits aren’t likely to change much anytime soon. Even if scientists had the data they needed and a more perfect understanding of all forecasting’s complexities, skillful forecasts could extend out to about 14 or 15 days only, the 2019 study found, because of the chaotic nature of the atmosphere.

“Two weeks is about right. It’s as close to be the ultimate limit as we can demonstrate,” the study’s lead author told Science Magazine.

The American Meteorological Society agrees. Their statement on the limits of prediction, in place since 2015, states that “presently, forecasts of daily or specific weather conditions do not exhibit useful skill beyond eight days, meaning that their accuracy is low.”


Although the American Meteorological Society strongly advises against issuing specific forecasts beyond eight days, popular weather vendor AccuWeather has, for years, churned out detailed predictions many days further into the future. It initiated 45-day forecasts in 2013, which it extended to 90 days in 2016 — and has been heavily criticized for it….(More)”.

76 things you can do to boost civic engagement


Rebecca Winthrop and Meg Heubeck at Brookings: “It isn’t too complicated. Civic engagement is the glue that holds self-government together. Yet civic participation and engagement has been on the decline for several decades. Therefore, each and every one of us must be as active and involved in our community and country as possible. Self-government is hard work and requires effort. Action is essential to maintaining the foundations of our democracy, no matter which political party happens to be in power.

To be a truly involved citizen, we must reconnect with our founding documents. We must learn and practice the skills of civic participation beginning with voting and moving onto legislating, speaking out, and building coalitions to solve problems on the local, state, and federal levels.

While by no means comprehensive, the “Democracy 76” list below provides specific and practical actions that we all can take to be an involved citizen. The list is broken into five actions that are essential components for engagement. It is expressly free from politics and partisanship and should be undertaken by all Americans—regardless of political perspectives or affiliation….this list has contributed to the call to action of the newly launched Purple Project for Democracy, which has as its central mission to create a more active, engaged American citizenry, ultimately strengthening the very foundations of our democratic form of government. This is certainly something the founding fathers would support….(Full List)”.

Realizing Democracy


Supplement to Stanford Social Innovation Review that seeks to …”speak to an increasingly shared understanding among policymakers, civil society leaders, and scholars that democracy reform today must address underlying systemic roots of exclusion and inequality. …Articles: 

Fixing Democracy Demands the Building and Aligning of People’s Motivation and Authority to Act

By Hahrie Han

It is often tempting to try to solve problems by looking for policy fixes, new technologies, and informational solutions, instead of addressing underlying power dynamics.

Realizing Democracy Demands Addressing Deeper Structural Roots of Failure and Possibility of Shared Power By K. Sabeel Rahman

As long as it is more profitable to rig the rules than play by them, our better angels are unlikely to thrive. Part of the Winter 2020 issue’s Realizing Democracy supplement funded by the Ford Foundation.

Renewing Democracy Requires the Creation of an Inclusive Collective By Marshall Ganz & Art Reyes III

Community organizers have a significant role in addressing the atrophy of civil goods that has transformed Americans from active citizens into political customers or nonprofit clients.

Building Political Bases to Make Multiracial Democracy Work By Doran Schrantz, Michelle Oyakawa, & Liz McKenna

Powerful organization, rather than efficient mobilization, is the way to re-center people in our political life.

Revitalizing Civic Infrastructure at the State Level Is Necessary for a Healthy Democracy By Alexander Hertel-Fernandez & Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith

Recent research documents only a weak electoral connection between state legislators and their voters. It’s time to break the cycle and restore political power to ordinary citizens over entrenched minorities.

Re-Envisioning the Roles of Prosecutors and Attorneys General to Make the Justice System Work for Everyone By Arisha Hatch & Terri Gerstein

Community organizations nationwide are helping to reimagine the role of law enforcement by pushing prosecutors to embrace a new criminal justice reform agenda and collaborating with attorneys general to protect working people.

Democratizing Economic Power to Break the Cycle of American Inequality By Felicia Wong, K. Sabeel Rahman & Dorian Warren

The sharp and growing imbalance between the wealthy and the rest of Americans dramatically alters how public policy itself is formulated—and what those policies ultimately look like.

New Forms of Worker Organization to Free Democracy From Corporate Clutches By Andrea Dehlendorf & Michelle Miller

To rebalance our democracy and economy, a real system of economic checks and balances must exist to ensure that working people have power in their workplaces.

The Los Angeles Teachers’ Strike Is a Master Class in Using Unions to Secure Progressive Wins By Jane McAlevey

Good strikes force the very consensus building that America needs, and the sooner we reprioritize unions, the sooner we can reclaim democracy.

Democracy and Prosperity Require Uncorrupted Governments With Strong Regulatory Power By Anat R. Admati

When corporate engagement with governments serves narrow interests and money is critical for campaigns and influence, the system causes “corruptive dependencies,” exacerbates inequality, and leads to the perception that our “captured economy” is rigged and unjust.

How Government, the Economy, and Civil Society Can Achieve the Democracy We Need and Deserve By Lisa García Bedolla

Three takeaways to establish the structural and institutional guardrails necessary to creating a serious, concerted, and holistic effort to address issues of power and inequality across civil society, government, and the economy….(More)”.

Government at a Glance 2019


OECD Report: “Government at a Glance provides reliable, internationally comparative data on government activities and their results in OECD countries. Where possible, it also reports data for Brazil, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation and South Africa. In many public governance areas, it is the only available source of data. It includes input, process, output and outcome indicators as well as contextual information for each country.

The 2019 edition includes input indicators on public finance and employment; while processes include data on institutions, budgeting practices and procedures, human resources management, regulatory government, public procurement and digital government and open data. Outcomes cover core government results (e.g. trust, inequality reduction) and indicators on access, responsiveness, quality and citizen satisfaction for the education, health and justice sectors.

Governance indicators are especially useful for monitoring and benchmarking governments’ progress in their public sector reforms.Each indicator in the publication is presented in a user-friendly format, consisting of graphs and/or charts illustrating variations across countries and over time, brief descriptive analyses highlighting the major findings conveyed by the data, and a methodological section on the definition of the indicator and any limitations in data comparability….(More)”.

Big Data, Big Impact? Towards Gender-Sensitive Data Systems


Report by Data2X: “How can insights drawn from big data sources improve understanding about the lives of women and girls?

This question has underpinned Data2X’s groundbreaking work at the intersection of big data and gender — work that funded ten research projects that examined the potential of big data to fill the global gender data gap.

Big Data, Big Impact? Towards Gender-Sensitive Data Systems summarizes the findings and potential policy implications of the Big Data for Gender pilot projects funded by Data2X, and lays out five cross-cutting messages that emerge from this body of work:

  1. Big data offers unique insights on women and girls.
  2. Gender-sensitive big data is ready to scale and integrate with traditional data.
  3. Identify and correct bias in big datasets.
  4. Protect the privacy of women and girls.
  5. Women and girls must be central to data governance.

This report argues that the time for pilot projects has passed. Data privacy concerns must be addressed; investment in scale up is needed. Big data offers great potential for women and girls, and indeed for all people….(More)”.

Google’s ‘Project Nightingale’ Gathers Personal Health Data on Millions of Americans


Rob Copeland at Wall Street Journal: “Google is engaged with one of the U.S.’s largest health-care systems on a project to collect and crunch the detailed personal-health information of millions of people across 21 states.

The initiative, code-named “Project Nightingale,” appears to be the biggest effort yet by a Silicon Valley giant to gain a toehold in the health-care industry through the handling of patients’ medical data. Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc.  and Microsoft Corp. are also aggressively pushing into health care, though they haven’t yet struck deals of this scope.

Google began Project Nightingale in secret last year with St. Louis-based Ascension, a Catholic chain of 2,600 hospitals, doctors’ offices and other facilities, with the data sharing accelerating since summer, according to internal documents.

The data involved in the initiative encompasses lab results, doctor diagnoses and hospitalization records, among other categories, and amounts to a complete health history, including patient names and dates of birth….

Neither patients nor doctors have been notified. At least 150 Google employees already have access to much of the data on tens of millions of patients, according to a person familiar with the matter and the documents.

In a news release issued after The Wall Street Journal reported on Project Nightingale on Monday, the companies said the initiative is compliant with federal health law and includes robust protections for patient data….(More)”.

Angela Merkel urges EU to seize control of data from US tech titans


Guy Chazan at the Financial Times: “Angela Merkel has urged Europe to seize control of its data from Silicon Valley tech giants, in an intervention that highlights the EU’s growing willingness to challenge the US dominance of the digital economy.

The German chancellor said the EU should claim “digital sovereignty” by developing its own platform to manage data and reduce its reliance on the US-based cloud services run by Amazon, Microsoft and Google. “So many companies have just outsourced all their data to US companies,” Ms Merkel told German business leaders. “I’m not saying that’s bad in and of itself — I just mean that the value-added products that come out of that, with the help of artificial intelligence, will create dependencies that I’m not sure are a good thing.”

Her speech, at an employers’ conference in Berlin, shows the extent to which the information economy is emerging as a battleground in the EU-US trading relationship. It also highlights the concern in European capitals that the EU could be weakened by the market dominance of the big US tech companies, particularly in the business of storing, processing and analysing data.

Margrethe Vestager, the EU’s powerful competition chief who is now also to oversee EU digital policy, last month told the Financial Times that she was examining whether large internet companies could be held to higher standards of proof in competition cases, as part of a tougher line on dominant companies, such as Google.

Ms Merkel was speaking just two weeks after Berlin unveiled plans for a European cloud computing initiative, dubbed Gaia-X, which it has described as a “competitive, safe and trustworthy data infrastructure for Europe”.

At the conference on Tuesday, Peter Altmaier, economy minister, said the data of companies such as Volkswagen, and that of the German interior ministry and social security system, were increasingly stored on the servers of Microsoft and Amazon. “And in this we are losing part of our sovereignty,” he added….(More)”.

Retrofitting Social Science for the Practical & Moral


Kenneth Prewitt at Issues: “…We cannot reach this fresh thinking without first challenging two formulations that today’s social science considers settled. First, social science should not assume that the “usefulness of useless knowledge” works as our narrative. Yes, it works for natural sciences. But the logic doesn’t translate. Second, we should back off from exaggerated promises about “evidence-based policy,” perhaps terming it “evidence-influenced politics,” a framing that is more accurate descriptively (what happens) and prescriptively (what should happen). The prominence given to these two formulations gets in the way of an alternative positioning of social science as an agent of improvement. I discuss this alternative below, under the label of the Fourth Purpose….

…the “Fourth Purpose.” This joins the three purposes traditionally associated with American universities and colleges: Education, Research, and Public Service. The latter is best described as being “a good citizen,” engaged in volunteer work; it is an attractive feature of higher education, but not in any substantial manner present in the other two core purposes.

The Fourth Purpose is an altogether different vision. It institutionalizes what Ross characterized as a social science being in the “broadest sense practical and moral.” It succeeds only by being fully present in education and research, for instance, including experiential learning in the curriculum and expanding processes that convert research findings into social benefits. This involves more than scattered centers across the university working on particular social problems. As Bollinger puts it, the university itself becomes a hybrid actor, at once academic and practical. “A university,” he says, “is more than simply an infrastructure supporting schools, departments, and faculty in their academic pursuits. As research universities enter into the realm or realms of the outside world, the ‘university’ (i.e., the sum of its parts/constituents) is going to have capacities far beyond those of any segment, as well as effects (hopefully generally positive) radiating back into the institution.”

To oversimplify a bit, the Fourth Purpose has three steps. The first occurs in the lab, library, or field—resulting in fundamental findings. The second ventures into settings where nonacademic players and judgment come into play, actions are taken, and ethical choices confronted, that is, practices of the kind mentioned earlier: translation research, knowledge brokers, boundary organizations, coproduction. Academic and nonacademic players should both come away from these settings with enriched understanding and capabilities. For academics, the skills required for this step differ from, but complement, the more familiar skills of teacher and researcher. The new skills will have to be built into the fabric of the university if the Fourth Purpose is to succeed.

The third step cycles back to the campus. It involves scholarly understandings not previously available. It requires learning something new about the original research findings as a result of how they are interpreted, used, rejected, modified, or ignored in settings that, in fact, are controlling whether the research findings will be implemented as hoped. This itself is new knowledge. If paid attention to, and the cycle is repeated, endlessly, a new form of scholarship is added to our tool kit….(More)”.

Social Business Models in the Digital Economy


Book by Adam Jabłoński and Marek Jabłoński: “Filling a gap in the current literature, this book addresses the social approach to the design and use of innovative business models in the digital economy. It focuses on three areas that are of increasing importance to businesses and industry today: social issues and sustainability; digitization; and new economic business models, specifically the sharing and circular economies. The authors aim to solve current scientific concerns around the conceptualization and operationalization of social business models, addressing management intentions and the impact of these models on society. Based on observation of social phenomena and the authors’ research and practical experience, the book highlights best practices for designing and assessing social business models….(More)”.

Our Futures: By the people, for the people


Guide by Laurie Smith and Kathy Peach: “This is a guide to how mass involvement with shaping the future can solve complex problems.

Moving beyond citizen assemblies and traditional public engagement, participatory futures techniques help people to develop a collective image of the future they want, so that we can make better, more informed decisions.

Governments, city leaders, public institutions, funders, and civil society must be at the forefront of this approach, supporting it through funding, strategy and practice.

Our guide contains practical suggestions for how to do this. Examples include:

  • Carrying out publicly-funded, mission-orientated research that is informed by participatory futures exercises.
  • Creating new legislation that requires UK Government departments to use these approaches to inform decision-making and strategies.
  • Embedding these approaches in the Civil Service Competency Framework and equivalent frameworks for local government and charities…(More)”.