Atlas of the Senseable City

Book by Antoine Picon and Carlo Ratti: “What have smart technologies taught us about cities? What lessons can we learn from today’s urbanites to make better places to live? Antoine Picon and Carlo Ratti argue that the answers are in the maps we make. For centuries, we have relied on maps to navigate the enormity of the city. Now, as the physical world combines with the digital world, we need a new generation of maps to navigate the city of tomorrow. Pervasive sensors allow anyone to visualize cities in entirely new ways—ebbs and flows of pollution, traffic, and internet connectivity.
This book explores how the growth of digital mapping, spurred by sensing technologies, is affecting cities and daily lives. It examines how new cartographic possibilities aid urban planners, technicians, politicians, and administrators; how digitally mapped cities could reveal ways to make cities smarter and more efficient; how monitoring urbanites has political and social repercussions; and how the proliferation of open-source maps and collaborative platforms can aid activists and vulnerable populations. With its beautiful, accessible presentation of cutting-edge research, this book makes it easy for readers to understand the stakes of the new information age—and appreciate the timeless power of the city….(More)”.

How Data Happened: A History from the Age of Reason to the Age of Algorithms

Book by Chris Wiggins and Matthew L Jones: “From facial recognition—capable of checking people into flights or identifying undocumented residents—to automated decision systems that inform who gets loans and who receives bail, each of us moves through a world determined by data-empowered algorithms. But these technologies didn’t just appear: they are part of a history that goes back centuries, from the census enshrined in the US Constitution to the birth of eugenics in Victorian Britain to the development of Google search.

Expanding on the popular course they created at Columbia University, Chris Wiggins and Matthew L. Jones illuminate the ways in which data has long been used as a tool and a weapon in arguing for what is true, as well as a means of rearranging or defending power. They explore how data was created and curated, as well as how new mathematical and computational techniques developed to contend with that data serve to shape people, ideas, society, military operations, and economies. Although technology and mathematics are at its heart, the story of data ultimately concerns an unstable game among states, corporations, and people. How were new technical and scientific capabilities developed; who supported, advanced, or funded these capabilities or transitions; and how did they change who could do what, from what, and to whom?

Wiggins and Jones focus on these questions as they trace data’s historical arc, and look to the future. By understanding the trajectory of data—where it has been and where it might yet go—Wiggins and Jones argue that we can understand how to bend it to ends that we collectively choose, with intentionality and purpose…(More)”.

Data Collaborative Case Study: NYC Recovery Data Partnership

Report by the Open Data Policy Lab (The GovLab): “In July 2020, following severe economic and social losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the administration of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the NYC Recovery Data Partnership. This data collaborative asked private and civic organizations with assets relevant to New York City to provide their data to the city. Senior city leaders from the First Deputy Mayor’s Office, the Mayor’s Office of Operations, Mayor’s Office of Information Privacy and Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics formed an internal coalition which served as trusted intermediaries, assessing agency requests from city agencies to use the data provided and allocating access accordingly. The data informed internal research conducted by various city agencies, including New York City Emergency Management’s Recovery Team and the NYC…(More)”Department of City Planning. The experience reveals the ability of crises to spur innovation, the value of responsiveness from both data users and data suppliers, and the importance of technical capacity, and the value of a network of peers. In terms of challenges, the experience also exposes the limitations of data, the challenges of compiling complex datasets, and the role of resource constraints.

LocalView, a database of public meetings for the study of local politics and policy-making in the United State

Paper by Soubhik Barari and Tyler Simko: “Despite the fundamental importance of American local governments for service provision in areas like education and public health, local policy-making remains difficult and expensive to study at scale due to a lack of centralized data. This article introduces LocalView, the largest existing dataset of real-time local government public meetings–the central policy-making process in local government. In sum, the dataset currently covers 139,616 videos and their corresponding textual and audio transcripts of local government meetings publicly uploaded to YouTube–the world’s largest public video-sharing website– from 1,012 places and 2,861 distinct governments across the United States between 2006–2022. The data are processed, downloaded, cleaned, and publicly disseminated (at for analysis across places and over time. We validate this dataset using a variety of methods and demonstrate how it can be used to map local governments’ attention to policy areas of interest. Finally, we discuss how LocalView may be used by journalists, academics, and other users for understanding how local communities deliberate crucial policy questions on topics including climate change, public health, and immigration…(More)”.

The Role of Community Engagement in Urban Innovation Towards the Co-Creation of Smart Sustainable Cities

Paper by Bokolo Anthony Jr.: “One of the most recent topics in smart cities is community engagement which has been generally deliberated in both industrial and academic literature around the approaches and tools employed in urban environment. Accordingly, the purpose of this study is to advocate for community engagement as a key driver that supports the acquisition of knowledge and requirements needed for innovation and creativity towards achieving an equitable community for social sustainability. A semi-systematic review method is adopted to analyze 71 sources from Web of Science and Scopus databases. Secondary data from the literature is extracted and synthesized to provide narrative and descriptive analysis. Findings from this study presents a developed model that can support community engagement for urban innovation by specifying factors that influences community engagement for smart sustainable city development. The model enables citizens, policy makers, government, urban planners, academics, and enterprises in urban environment to connect, interact, engage, and co-create innovative services. More importantly findings from this research provides theoretical evidence on administrative and non-administrative stakeholder’s involvement towards co-creation of urban services towards smart sustainable cities. Furthermore, this study provides recommendation on how community engagement perspective involving different stakeholders can help to achieve resilient technological driven city by supporting sustainable development and ultimately actualizing a socially inclusive urban space…(More)”

Urban AI Guide

Guide by Popelka, S., Narvaez Zertuche, L., Beroche, H.: “The idea for this guide arose from conversations with city leaders, who were confronted with new technologies, like artificial intelligence, as a means of solving complex urban problems, but who felt they lacked the background knowledge to properly engage with and evaluate the solutions. In some instances, this knowledge gap produced a barrier to project implementation or led to unintended project outcomes.

The guide begins with a literature review, presenting the state of the art in research on urban artificial intelligence. It then diagrams and describes an “urban AI anatomy,” outlining and explaining the components that make up an urban AI system. Insights from experts in the Urban AI community enrich this section, illuminating considerations involved in each component. Finally, the guide concludes with an in-depth examination of three case studies: water meter lifecycle in Winnipeg, Canada, curb digitization and planning in Los Angeles, USA, and air quality monitoring in Vilnius, Lithuania. Collectively, the case studies highlight the diversity of ways in which artificial intelligence can be operationalized in urban contexts, as well as the steps and requirements necessary to implement an urban AI project.

Since the field of urban AI is constantly evolving, we anticipate updating the guide annually. Please consider filling out the contribution form, if you have an urban AI use case that has been operationalized. We may contact you to include the use case as a case study in a future edition of the guide.

As a continuation of the guide, we offer customized workshops on urban AI, oriented toward municipalities and other urban stakeholders, who are interested in learning more about how artificial intelligence interacts in urban environments. Please contact us if you would like more information on this program…(More)”.

Why cities should be fully recognized stakeholders within the UN system

Article by Andràs Szörényi and Pauline Leroy: Cities and their networks have risen on the international scene in the past decades as urban populations have increased dramatically. Cities have become more vocal on issues such as climate change, migration, and international conflict, as these challenges are increasingly impacting urban areas.

What’s more, innovative solutions to these problems are being invented in cities. And yet, despite their outsized contribution to the global economy and social development, cities have very few opportunities to engage in global decision-making and governance. They are not recognized stakeholders at the United Nations, and mayors are rarely afforded an international stage.

The Geneva Cities Hub – established in 2020 by the City and Canton of Geneva, with the support of the Swiss Confederation – enables cities and local governments to connect with Geneva-based international actors and amplify their voices.

Acknowledging cities as international actors is not just a good thing to do; it’s critical to developing policies that stand a chance of implementation.

When goals are announced and solutions are devised without the input of those in charge of implementation, unanticipated challenges inevitably arise. In short, including cities is critical to ensuring that decisions are practicable.

The Geneva Cities Hub has thus been empowered to facilitate the participation of cities in relevant multilateral processes in the Swiss city and beyond. We follow several of those and identify where the contribution of cities is relevant.

How cities can play a key role in multilateralism

How cities can play a key role in multilateralism. Image: Geneva Cities Hub

We then work with states and international organizations to open these processes up and liaise with local governments to support their engagement…(More)”.

Citizen Participation and Knowledge Support in Urban Public Energy Transition—A Quadruple Helix Perspective

Paper by Peter Nijkamp et al: “Climate change, energy transition needs and the current energy crisis have prompted cities to implement far-reaching changes in public energy supply. The present paper seeks to map out the conditions for sustainable energy provision and use, with a particular view to the role of citizens in a quadruple helix context. Citizen participation is often seen as a sine qua non for a successful local or district energy policy in an urban area but needs due scientific and digital support based on evidence-based knowledge (using proper user-oriented techniques such as Q-analysis). The paper sets out to explore the citizen engagement and knowledge base for drastic energy transitions in the city based on the newly developed “diabolo” model, in which in particular digital tools (e.g., dashboards, digital twins) are proposed as useful tools for the interface between citizens and municipal policy. The approach adopted in this paper is empirically illustrated for local energy policy in the city of Rotterdam…(More)”.

Civic Switchboard: Connecting Libraries and Community Information Networks

Civic Switchboard is an Institute of Museum and Library Services supported effort that aims to develop the capacity of academic and public libraries in civic data ecosystems.

We encourage partnerships between libraries and local data intermediaries that will better serve data users, further democratize data, and support equitable access to information. Our project is created an online guide and toolkit for libraries interested in expanding (or beginning) their role around civic information…(More)”.

Governing Smart Cities as Knowledge Commons

Book edited by Brett M. Frischmann, Michael J. Madison, and Madelyn Rose Sanfilippo: “The rise of ‘smart’ – or technologically advanced – cities has been well documented, while governance of such technology has remained unresolved. Integrating surveillance, AI, automation, and smart tech within basic infrastructure as well as public and private services and spaces raises a complex set of ethical, economic, political, social, and technological questions. The Governing Knowledge Commons (GKC) framework provides a descriptive lens through which to structure case studies examining smart tech deployment and commons governance in different cities. This volume deepens our understanding of community governance institutions, the social dilemmas communities face, and the dynamic relationships between data, technology, and human lives. For students, professors, and practitioners of law and policy dealing with a wide variety of planning, design, and regulatory issues relating to cities, these case studies illustrate options to develop best practice. Available through Open Access, the volume provides detailed guidance for communities deploying smart tech…(More)”