Platform Urbanism: Negotiating Platform Ecosystems in Connected Cities

Book by Sarah Barns: “This book reflects on what it means to live as urban citizens in a world increasingly shaped by the business and organisational logics of digital platforms. Where smart city strategies promote the roll-out of internet of things (IoT) technologies and big data analytics by city governments worldwide, platform urbanism responds to the deep and pervasive entanglements that exist between urban citizens, city services and platform ecosystems today.    

Recent years have witnessed a backlash against major global platforms, evidenced by burgeoning literatures on platform capitalism, the platform society, platform surveillance and platform governance, as well as regulatory attention towards the market power of platforms in their dominance of global data infrastructure.  

This book responds to these developments and asks: How do platform ecosystems reshape connected cities? How do urban researchers and policy makers respond to the logics of platform ecosystems and platform intermediation? What sorts of multisensory urban engagements are rendered through platform interfaces and modalities? And what sorts of governance challenges and responses are needed to cultivate and champion the digital public spaces of our connected lives….(More)”.

The most innovative political projects in Europe 2019

The Innovation in Politics Institute: “Since 2017, the Innovation in Politics Awards have been honouring successfully implemented political initiatives – regardless of party affiliation, political level or region. The aim is to strengthen, further develop and inspire democratic politics…

The winning projects by category are:

COOPERATIVE COUNCIL GRONINGEN: Trust is crucial in life – and in politics. The open citizens’ council in Groningen builds trust between citizens and politicians. When they sit shoulder to shoulder in the local council and decide together, a joint sense of responsibility quickly develops. The citizens are chosen at random in order to motivate a variety of people to participate. An evaluation by the University of Groningen showed increased trust on all sides, more active voting behaviour and a stronger community. …

SMART CITY BAD HERSFELD: The “Smart City Bad Hersfeld” project links public administration, citizens and businesses in the city to improve living and working conditions. With 30,000 inhabitants, it is the smallest city in Germany to have developed such a programme. A digital parking guidance system optimises the use of space and the finding of a parking space. Municipal charging stations for electric cars promote environmentally friendly transport. “Smartboxes” on main roads collect data on traffic noise and waste materials for effective environmental management. Free Internet in the city centre motivates everyone to use such services….(More)”

Mayor de Blasio Signs Executive Order to Establish Algorithms Management and Policy Officer

Press release: “Mayor Bill de Blasio today signed an Executive Order to establish an Algorithms Management and Policy Officer within the Mayor’s Office of Operations. The Officer will serve as a centralized resource on algorithm policy and develop guidelines and best practices to assist City agencies in their use of algorithms to make decisions. The new Officer will ensure relevant algorithms used by the City to deliver services promote equity, fairness and accountability. The creation of the position follows review of the recommendations from the Automated Decision Systems (ADS) Task Force Report required by Local Law 49 of 2018, published here.

“Fairness and equity are central to improving the lives of New Yorkers,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.“With every new technology comes added responsibility, and I look forward to welcoming an Algorithms Management and Policy Officer to my team to ensure the tools we use to make decisions are fair and transparent.”…

The Algorithms Management and Policy Officer will develop guidelines and best practices to assist City agencies in their use of tools or systems that rely on algorithms and related technologies to support decision-making. As part of that effort, the Officer and their personnel support will develop processes for agency reporting and provide resources that will help the public learn more about how New York City government uses algorithms to make decisions and deliver services….(More)”.

Voting could be the problem with democracy

Bernd Reiter at The Conversation: “Around the globe, citizens of many democracies are worried that their governments are not doing what the people want.

When voters pick representatives to engage in democracy, they hope they are picking people who will understand and respond to constituents’ needs. U.S. representatives have, on average, more than 700,000 constituents each, making this task more and more elusive, even with the best of intentions. Less than 40% of Americans are satisfied with their federal government.

Across Europe, South America, the Middle East and China, social movements have demanded better government – but gotten few real and lasting results, even in those places where governments were forced out.

In my work as a comparative political scientist working on democracy, citizenship and race, I’ve been researching democratic innovations in the past and present. In my new book, “The Crisis of Liberal Democracy and the Path Ahead: Alternatives to Political Representation and Capitalism,” I explore the idea that the problem might actually be democratic elections themselves.

My research shows that another approach – randomly selecting citizens to take turns governing – offers the promise of reinvigorating struggling democracies. That could make them more responsive to citizen needs and preferences, and less vulnerable to outside manipulation….

For local affairs, citizens can participate directly in local decisions. In Vermont, the first Tuesday of March is Town Meeting Day, a public holiday during which residents gather at town halls to debate and discuss any issue they wish.

In some Swiss cantons, townspeople meet once a year, in what are called Landsgemeinden, to elect public officials and discuss the budget.

For more than 30 years, communities around the world have involved average citizens in decisions about how to spend public money in a process called “participatory budgeting,” which involves public meetings and the participation of neighborhood associations. As many as 7,000 towns and cities allocate at least some of their money this way.

The Governance Lab, based at New York University, has taken crowd-sourcing to cities seeking creative solutions to some of their most pressing problems in a process best called “crowd-problem solving.” Rather than leaving problems to a handful of bureaucrats and experts, all the inhabitants of a community can participate in brainstorming ideas and selecting workable possibilities.

Digital technology makes it easier for larger groups of people to inform themselves about, and participate in, potential solutions to public problems. In the Polish harbor city of Gdansk, for instance, citizens were able to help choose ways to reduce the harm caused by flooding….(More)”.

The Urban Computing Foundation

About: “The Urban Computing Foundation is a neutral forum for accelerating open source and community development that improves mobility, safety, road infrastructure, traffic congestion and energy consumption in connected cities.

As cities and transportation networks evolve into ever-more complicated systems, urban computing is emerging as an important field to bridge the divide between engineering, visualization, and traditional transportation systems analysis. These advancements are dependent on compatibility among many technologies across different public and private organizations. The Foundation provides the forum to collaborate on a common set of open source tools for developers building autonomous vehicles and smart infrastructure.

The Urban Computing Foundation’s mission is to enable developers, data scientists, visualization specialists and engineers to improve urban environments, human life quality, and city operation connected urban infrastructure. We do this through an open governance model that encourages participation and technical contribution, and by providing a framework for long term stewardship by companies and individuals invested in open urban computing’s success….(More)”.

Leveraging Private Data for Public Good: A Descriptive Analysis and Typology of Existing Practices

New report by Stefaan Verhulst, Andrew Young, Michelle Winowatan. and Andrew J. Zahuranec: “To address the challenges of our times, we need both new solutions and new ways to develop those solutions. The responsible use of data will be key toward that end. Since pioneering the concept of “data collaboratives” in 2015, The GovLab has studied and experimented with innovative ways to leverage private-sector data to tackle various societal challenges, such as urban mobility, public health, and climate change.

While we have seen an uptake in normative discussions on how data should be shared, little analysis exists of the actual practice. This paper seeks to address that gap and seeks to answer the following question: What are the variables and models that determine functional access to private sector data for public good? In Leveraging Private Data for Public Good: A Descriptive Analysis and Typology of Existing Practices, we describe the emerging universe of data collaboratives and develop a typology of six practice areas. Our goal is to provide insight into current applications to accelerate the creation of new data collaboratives. The report outlines dozens of examples, as well as a set of recommendations to enable more systematic, sustainable, and responsible data collaboration….(More)”

City Innovation

Report and interactive map by CityLab, Bloomberg Philanthropies and the OECD: “New Innovation helps local governments create an ecosystem that promotes experimentation and creativity to improve the public welfare of residents in cities around the world.

City governments are ushering in a new era of local public sector innovation that promotes experimentation and flexibility, and also takes into account the social needs of citizens to manage evolving urban systems. The goal of this report is to understand how municipalities can enhance their ability to use innovation to deliver better results for their residents….

This site identifies and shares how cities around the world are investing in innovation, to ensure they’re constantly assessing and improving how they’re tackling problems and improving the lives of residents. This map is based on an initial survey of cities in OECD and non-OECD countries. The city information reflects data gathered from the city administration at the time of the survey….(More)”

Type, tweet, tap, and pass: How smart city technology is creating a transactional citizen

Paper by Peter A.Johnson, Pamela J.Robinson, andSimonePhilpot: “In the current push for smart city programs around the world, there is a significant focus on enabling transactions between citizen and government. Though traditionally there have always been transactional elements between government and citizen, for example payment of taxes in exchange for services, or voting in exchange for representation, the rise of modern smartphone and smart city technologies have further enabled micro-transactions between citizen, government, and information broker. We conceptualize how the modern smart city, as both envisaged and enacted, incorporates the citizen not necessarily as a whole actor, but as a series of micro-transactions encoded on the real-time landscape of the city. This transactional citizen becomes counted by smart city sensors and integrated into smart city decision-making through the use of certain preferred platforms.

To approach this shift from traditional forms of citizen/city interaction towards micro-transactions, we conceptualize four broad modes of transaction; type (intentional contribution), tweet (intermediated by third party), tap (convened or requested transaction), and pass (ambient transaction based on movement). These four modes are used to frame critical questions of how citizens interact with government in the emerging age of the smart city, and how these interactions impact the relationship between citizen and government, introducing new avenues for private sector influence….(More)”

Waze launches data-sharing integration for cities with Google Cloud

Ryan Johnston at StateScoop: “Thousands of cities across the world that rely on externally-sourced traffic data from Waze, the route-finding mobile app, will now have access to the data through the Google Cloud suite of analytics tools instead of a raw feed, making it easier for city transportation and planning officials to reach data-driven decisions. 

Waze said Tuesday that the anonymized data is now available through Google Cloud, with the goal of making curbside management, roadway maintenance and transit investment easier for small to midsize cities that don’t have the resources to invest in enterprise data-analytics platforms of their own. Since 2014, Waze — which became a Google subsidiary in 2013 — has submitted traffic data to its partner cities through its “Waze for Cities” program, but those data sets arrived in raw feeds without any built-in analysis or insights.

While some cities have built their own analysis tools to understand the free data from the company, others have struggled to stay afloat in the sea of data, said Dani Simons, Waze’s head of public sector partnerships.

“[What] we’ve realized is providing the data itself isn’t enough for our city partners or for a lot of our city and state partners,” Simons said. “We have been asked over time for better ways to analyze and turn that raw data into something more actionable for our public partners, and that’s why we’re doing this.”

The data will now arrive automatically integrated with Google’s free data analysis tool, BigQuery, and a visualization tool, Data Studio. Cities can use the tools to analyze up to a terabyte of data and store up to 10 gigabytes a month for free, but they can also choose to continue to use in-house analysis tools, Simons said. 

The integration was also designed with input from Waze’s top partner cities, including Los Angeles; Seattle; and San Jose, California. One of Waze’s private sector partners, Genesis Pulse, which designs software for emergency responders, reported that Waze users identified 40 percent of roadside accidents an average of 4.5 minutes before those incidents were reported to 911 or public safety.

The integration is Waze’s attempt at solving two of the biggest data problems that cities have today, Simons told StateScoop. For some cities in the U.S., Waze is one of the several private companies sharing transit data with them. Other cities are drowning in data from traffic sensors, city-owned fleets data or private mobility companies….(More)”.

Toolkit to Help Community Leaders Drive Sustainable, Inclusive Growth

The Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth: “… is unveiling a groundbreaking suite of tools that will provide local leaders with timely data-driven insights on the current state of and potential for inclusive growth in their communities. The announcement comes as private and public sector leaders gather in Washington for the inaugural Global Inclusive Growth Summit.

For the first time the new Inclusive Growth Toolkit brings together a clear, simple view of social and economic growth in underserved communities across the U.S., at the census-tract level. This was created in response to growing demand from community leaders for more evidence-based insights, to help them steer impact investment dollars to locally-led economic development initiatives, unlock the potential of neighborhoods, and improve quality of life for all.    

The initial design of the toolkit is focused on driving sustainable growth for the 37+ million people living in the 8700+ QOZs throughout the United States. This comprehensive picture reveals that neighborhoods can look very different and may require different types of interventions to achieve successful and sustainable growth.

The Inclusive Growth Toolkit includes:

  • The Inclusive Growth Score – an interactive online map where users can view measures of inclusion and growth and then download a PDF Scorecard for any of the QOZs at census tract level.

A deep-dive analytics consultancy service that provides community leaders with customized insights to inform policy decisions, prospectus development, and impact investor discussions….(More)”.