Vancouver launches health data dashboard to drive collective action


Sarah Wray at Cities Today: “Vancouver has published a new open data dashboard to track progress against 23 health and wellbeing indicators.

These include datasets on the number of children living below the poverty line, the number of households spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, and the proportion of adults who have a sense of community belonging. As well as the most recent data for each indicator, the dashboard includes target figures and the current status of the city’s progress towards that goal…

The launch represents the first phase of the project and there are plans to expand the dashboard to include additional indicators, as well as neighbourhood-level and disaggregated data for different populations. The city is also working with Indigenous communities to identify more decolonised ways of collecting and analysing the data.

report published last year by British Columbia’s Office of the Human Rights Commissioner called for provincial governments to collect and use disaggregated demographic and race-based data to address systemic racism and inequities. It emphasised that the process must include the community.

“One important piece that we’re still working on is data governance,” Zak said. “As we publish more disaggregated data that shows which communities in Vancouver are most impacted by health inequities, we need to do it in a way that is not just the local government telling stories about a community, but instead is telling a story with the community that leads to policy change.”…

Technical and financial support for the dashboard was provided by the Partnership for Healthy Cities, a global network of cities for preventing noncommunicable diseases and injuries. The partnership is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and the public health organisation Vital Strategies….(More)”.

Undoing Optimization: Civic Action in Smart Cities


Book by Alison B. Powell: “City life has been reconfigured by our use—and our expectations—of communication, data, and sensing technologies. This book examines the civic use, regulation, and politics of these technologies, looking at how governments, planners, citizens, and activists expect them to enhance life in the city. Alison Powell argues that the de facto forms of citizenship that emerge in relation to these technologies represent sites of contention over how governance and civic power should operate. These become more significant in an increasingly urbanized and polarized world facing new struggles over local participation and engagement. The author moves past the usual discussion of top-down versus bottom-up civic action and instead explains how citizenship shifts in response to technological change and particularly in response to issues related to pervasive sensing, big data, and surveillance in “smart cities.”…(More)”.

The Case for Local Data Sharing Ordinances


Paper by Beatriz Botero Arcila: “Cities in the US have started to enact data-sharing rules and programs to access some of the data that technology companies operating under their jurisdiction – like short-term rental or ride hailing companies – collect. This information allows cities to adapt too to the challenges and benefits of the digital information economy. It allows them to understand what their impact is on congestion, the housing market, the local job market and even the use of public spaces. It also empowers them to act accordingly by, for example, setting vehicle caps or mandating a tailored minimum pay for gig-workers. These companies, however, sometimes argue that sharing this information attempts against their users’ privacy rights and their privacy rights, because this information is theirs; it’s part of their business records. The question is thus what those rights are, and whether it should and could be possible for local governments to access that information to advance equity and sustainability, without harming the legitimate privacy interests of both individuals and companies. This Article argues that within current Fourth Amendment doctrine and privacy law there is space for data-sharing programs. Privacy law, however, is being mobilized to alter the distribution of power and welfare between local governments, companies, and citizens within current digital information capitalism to extend those rights beyond their fair share and preempt permissible data-sharing requests. The Article warns that if the companies succeed in their challenges, privacy law will have helped shield corporate power from regulatory oversight, while still leaving individuals largely unprotected and submitting local governments further to corporate interests….(More)”.

Sustainable Cities: Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and the Rise of Green, “Cy-phy” Cities


Book by Claudio Scardovi: “Global cities are facing an almost unprecedented challenge of change. As they re-emerge from the Covid 19 pandemic and get ready to face climate change and other, potentially existential threats, they need to look for new ways to support wealth and wellbeing creation – leveraging Big Data and AI and suing them into their physical reality and to become greener, more inclusive and resilient, hence sustainable.This book describes how new digital technologies could be used to design digital and physical twins of cities that are able to feed into each other to optimize their working and ability to create new wealth and wellbeing. The book also describes how to increase cities’ social and economic resilience during crisis time and addressing their almost fatal weaknesses – as it became all too obvious during the recent COVID 19 crisis. Also, the book presents a framework for a critical discussion of the concept of “smart-city”, suggesting its development into a “cyber” and “meta” one – meaning, not only digital systems can allow physical ones (e.g. cities, citizens, households and companies) to become “smarter”, but also the vice versa is true, as off line data and real life behaviours can support the optimization and development of virtual brains as a sum of big data and artificial intelligence apps all sitting “over the cloud”.

An analysis of the fundamental dynamics of this emerging “info-telligence” economy, and of the potential role of big digital players like Amazon, Google and Facebook is then paving the way to discuss a few strategic forays on how traditional sectors such as financial services, real estate, TMT or health could also evolve, leveraging Big Data and AI in a cyber-physical integrated setting. Finally, a number of thought provoking use cases that could be designed around individuals, and to improve the success and the resilience of households and companies living and working in urban areas are discussed, as an example of one of the most exciting future markets to come: the one of global, sustainable cities…(More)”.

Using Open Data to Monitor the Status of a Metropolitan Area: The Case of the Metropolitan Area of Turin


Paper by Candela, Filippo; and Mulassano, Paolo: “The paper presents and discusses the method adopted by Compagnia di San Paolo, one of the largest European philanthropic institutions, to monitor the advancement, despite the COVID-19 situation, in providing specific input to the decision-making process for dedicated projects. An innovative approach based on the use of daily open data was adopted to monitor the metropolitan area with a multidimensional perspective. Several open data indicators related to the economy, society, culture, environment, and climate were identified and incorporated into the decision support system dashboard. Indicators are presented and discussed to highlight how open data could be integrated into the foundation’s strategic approach and potentially replicated on a large scale by local institutions. Moreover, starting from the lessons learned from this experience, the paper analyzes the opportunities and critical issues surrounding the use of open data, not only to improve the quality of life during the COVID-19 epidemic but also for the effective regulation of society, the participation of citizens, and their well-being….(More)”

Reimagining the Role of Cities & City Diplomacy in the Multilateral Order


Report by The Berggruen Institute: “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the foreground the important role of cities in responding to global challenges. Through informal and established international networks, city leaders are connecting across borders and shaping the global pandemic response. City and municipal governments were some of the earliest to turn toward their peers to share information, collaborate, and identify solutions, even as national-level cooperation was often delayed or challenged. 

While the pandemic has revealed the necessity of international cooperation, it has also shown the limits of current systems, especially in how multilateral institutions learn from and meaningfully include city leadership. City and municipal governments occupy an increasingly visible and important position in international affairs, are already working together through city-to-city networks on many issues, and engage in international activities often described as “city diplomacy.” Looking forward, rapid population growth in urban areas means many global challenges and the responses to them will be concentrated in cities. Cities will be at the center of the global response to climate change, migration, violence and injustice, health security, economic inequality, and security. Yet the current international system was designed by countries for countries; it is not structured to channel city voices and lacks pathways for cities to influence global governance.

The Berggruen Institute, the Brookings Institution, the City of Los Angeles, and the United Nations Foundation co-organized a virtual workshop in July 2020 titled “The Rise of Urbanization and the Role of City Diplomacy in the Multilateral System” to explore these dynamics further. By bringing together current and former national diplomats, representatives of and diplomats in multilateral organizations, city directors of international affairs, and specialists in international relations under the Chatham House rule, the workshop aimed to reimagine how different levels of government can work together more effectively on issues of global governance. Together, these actors form a novel group to grapple with the issue of city voice in multilateralism. In particular, the group explored opportunities and challenges to building cooperation between cities and the current multilateral system and considered practical, researchable ideas for how the multilateral system might adapt to engage subnational actors to address global challenges….(More)”.

Sustainable mobility: Policy making for data sharing


WBCSD report: “The demand for mobility will grow significantly in the coming years, but our urban transportation systems are at their limits. Increasing digitalization and data sharing in urban mobility can help governments and businesses to respond to this challenge and accelerate the transition toward sustainability. There is an urgent need for greater policy coherence in data-sharing ecosystems and governments need to adopt a more collaborative approach toward policy making.

With well-orchestrated policies, data sharing can result in shared value for public and private sectors and support the achievement of sustainability goals. Data-sharing policies should also aim to minimize risks around privacy and cybersecurity, minimize mobility biases rooted in race, gender and age, prevent the creation of runaway data monopolies and bridge the widening data divide.

This report outlines a global policy framework and practical guidance for policy making on data sharing. The report offers multiple case studies from across the globe to document emerging good practices and policy suggestions, recognizing the hyperlocal context of mobility needs and policies, the nascent state of the data-sharing market and limited evidence from regulatory practices….(More)”

Building Digital Worlds: Where does GIS data come from?


Julie Stoner at Library of Congress: “Whether you’ve used an online map to check traffic conditions, a fitness app to track your jogging route, or found photos tagged by location on social media, many of us rely on geospatial data more and more each day. So what are the most common ways geospatial data is created and stored, and how does it differ from how we have stored geographic information in the past?

A primary method for creating geospatial data is to digitize directly from scanned analog maps. After maps are georeferenced, GIS software allows a data creator to manually digitize boundaries, place points, or define areas using the georeferenced map image as a reference layer. The goal of digitization is to capture information carefully stored in the original map and translate it into a digital format. As an example, let’s explore and then digitize a section of this 1914 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Eatonville, Washington.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Map from Eatonville, Pierce County, Washington. Sanborn Map Company, October 1914. Geography & Map Division, Library of Congress.

Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps were created to detail the built environment of American towns and cities through the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The creation of these information-dense maps allowed the Sanborn Fire Insurance Company to underwrite insurance agreements without needing to inspect each building in person. Sanborn maps have become incredibly valuable sources of historic information because of the rich geographic detail they store on each page.

When extracting information from analog maps, the digitizer must decide which features will be digitized and how information about those features will be stored. Behind the geometric features created through the digitization process, a table is utilized to store information about each feature on the map.  Using the table, we can store information gleaned from the analog map, such as the name of a road or the purpose of a building. We can also quickly calculate new data, such as the length of a road segment. The data in the table can then be put to work in the visual display of the new digital information that has been created. This often done through symbolization and map labels….(More)”.

Establishment of Sustainable Data Ecosystems


Report and Recommendations for the evolution of spatial data infrastructures by S. Martin, Gautier, P., Turki, and S., Kotsev: “The purpose of this study is to identify and analyse a set of successful data ecosystems and to address recommendations that can act as catalysts of data-driven innovation in line with the recently published European data strategy. The work presented here tries to identify to the largest extent possible actionable items.

Specifically, the study contributes with insights into the approaches that would help in the evolution of existing spatial data infrastructures (SDI), which are usually governed by the public sector and driven by data providers, to self-sustainable data ecosystems where different actors (including providers, users, intermediaries.) contribute and gain social and economic value in accordance with their specific objectives and incentives.

The overall approach described in this document is based on the identification and documentation of a set of case studies of existing data ecosystems and use cases for developing applications based on data coming from two or more data ecosystems, based on existing operational or experimental applications. Following a literature review on data ecosystem thinking and modelling, a framework consisting of three parts (Annex I) was designed. An ecosystem summary is drawn, giving an overall representation of the ecosystem key aspects. Two additional parts are detailed. One dedicated to ecosystem value dynamic illustrating how the ecosystem is structured through the resources exchanged between stakeholders, and the associated value.

Consequently, the ecosystem data flows represent the ecosystem from a complementary and more technical perspective, representing the flows and the data cycles associated to a given scenario. These two parts provide good proxies to evaluate the health and the maturity of a data ecosystem…(More)”.

The Data Shake: Opportunities and Obstacles for Urban Policy Making


Book edited by Grazia Concilio, Paola Pucci, Lieven Raes and Geert Mareels: “This open access book represents one of the key milestones of PoliVisu, an H2020 research and innovation project funded by the European Commission under the call “Policy-development in the age of big data: data-driven policy-making, policy-modelling and policy-implementation”.

It investigates the operative and organizational implications related to the use of the growing amount of available data on policy making processes, highlighting the experimental dimension of policy making that, thanks to data, proves to be more and more exploitable towards more effective and sustainable decisions.

The first section of the book introduces the key questions highlighted by the PoliVisu project, which still represent operational and strategic challenges in the exploitation of data potentials in urban policy making. The second section explores how data and data visualisations can assume different roles in the different stages of a policy cycle and profoundly transform policy making….(More)”.