Appropriate use of data in public space


Collection of Essays by NL Digital Government: “Smart cities are urban areas where large amounts of data are collected using sensors to enable a range of processes in the cities to run smoothly. However, the use of data is only legally and ethically allowed if the data is gathered and processed in a proper manner. It is not clear to many cities what data (personal or otherwise) about citizens may be gathered and processed, and under what conditions. The main question addressed by this essay concerns the degree to which data on citizens may be reused in the context of smart cities.

The emphasis here is on the reuse of data. Among the aspects featured are smart cities, the Internet of Things, big data, and nudging. Diferent types of data reuse will also be identifed using a typology that helps clarify and assess the desirability of data reuse. The heart of this essay is an examination of the most relevant legal and ethical frameworks for data reuse.

The most relevant legal frameworks are privacy and human rights, the protection of personal data and administrative law (in particular, the general principles of sound administration). The most relevant ethical frameworks are deontology, utilitarianism, and value ethics. The ethical perspectives ofer assessment frameworks that can be used within the legal frameworks, for drawing up codes of conduct, for example, and other forms of self-regulation. Observance of the legal and ethical frameworks referred to in this essay very probably means that data is being used and reused in an appropriate manner. Failure to observe these frameworks means that such use and reuse is not appropriate.

Four recommendations are made on the basis of these conclusions. Local authorities in smart cities must commit themselves to the appropriate reuse of data through public-private partnerships, actively involve citizens in their considerations of what factors are relevant, ensure transparency on data-related matters and in such considerations, and gradually continue the development of smart cities through pilot schemes….(More)”.

From smart to rebel city? Worlding, provincialising and the Barcelona Model


Paper by Greig Charnock, Hug March, Ramon Ribera-Fumaz: “This article examines the evolution of the ‘Barcelona Model’ of urban transformation through the lenses of worlding and provincialising urbanism. We trace this evolution from an especially dogmatic worlding vision of the smart city, under a centre-right city council, to its radical repurposing under the auspices of a municipal government led, after May 2015, by the citizens’ platform Barcelona en Comú. We pay particular attention to the new council’s objectives to harness digital platform technologies to enhance participative democracy, and its agenda to secure technological sovereignty and digital rights for its citizens. While stressing the progressive intent of these aims, we also acknowledge the challenge of going beyond the repurposing of smart technologies so as to engender new and radical forms of subjectivity among citizens themselves; a necessary basis for any urban revolution….(More)”.

New York Report Studies Risks, Rewards of the Smart City


GovTech: “The New York state comptroller tasked his staff with analyzing the deployment of new technologies at the municipal level while cautioning local leaders and the public about cyberthreats.

New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced the reportSmart Solutions Across the State: Advanced Technology in Local Governments, during a press conference last week in Schenectady, which was featured in the 25-page document for its deployment of an advanced streetlight network.

“New technologies are reshaping how local government services are delivered,” DiNapoli said during the announcement. “Local officials are stepping up to meet the evolving expectations of residents who want their interactions with government to be easy and convenient.”

The report showcases online bill payment for people to resolve parking tickets, utilities and property taxes; bike-share programs using mobile apps to access bicycles in downtown areas; public Wi-Fi through partnerships with telecommunication companies; and more….The modernization of communities across New York could create possibilities for partnerships between municipalities, counties and the state, she said. The report details how a city might attempt to emulate some of the projects included. Martinez said local government leaders should collaborate and share best practices if they decide to innovate their jurisdictions in similar ways….(More)”.

Urban Systems Design: From “science for design” to “design in science”


Introduction to Special Issue of Urban Analytics and City Science by Perry PJ Yang and Yoshiki Yamagata: “The direct design of cities is often regarded as impossible, owing to the fluidity, complexity, and uncertainty entailed in urban systems. And yet, we do design our cities, however imperfectly. Cities are objects of our own creation, they are intended landscapes, manageable, experienced and susceptible to analysis (Lynch, 1984). Urban design as a discipline has always focused on “design” in its professional practices. Urban designers tend to ask normative questions about how good city forms are designed, or how a city and its urban spaces ought to be made, thereby problematizing urban form-making and the values entailed. These design questions are analytically distinct from “science”-related research that tends to ask positive questions such as how cities function, or what properties emerge from interactive processes of urban systems. The latter questions require data, analytic techniques, and research methods to generate insight.

This theme issue “Urban Systems Design” is an attempt to outline a research agenda by connecting urban design and systems science, which is grounded in both normative and positive questions. It aims to contribute to the emerging field of urban analytics and city science that is central to this journal. Recent discussions of smart cities inspire urban design, planning and architectural professionals to address questions of how smart cities are shaped and what should be made. What are the impacts of information and communication technologies (ICT) on the questions of how built environments are designed and developed? How would the internet of things (IoT), big data analytics and urban automation influence how humans perceive, experience, use and interact with the urban environment? In short, what are the emerging new urban forms driven by the rapid move to ‘smart cities’?…(More)”.

Smart Governance for Cities: Perspectives and Experiences


Book edited by Nuno Vasco Moreira Lopes: “This book provides theoretical perspectives and practical experiences on smart governance for smart cities. It presents a balanced linkage between research, policies and practices on this area. The authors discuss the sustainability challenges raised by rapid urbanization, challenges with smart governance models in various countries, and a new governance paradigm seen as a capable approach able to overcome social, economic and environmental sustainability problems. The authors include case studies on transformation, adaption and transfers; and country, regional, municipal contextualization. Also included are best practices on monitoring and evaluating smart governance and impact assessment. The book features contributions from researchers, academics, and practitioners in the field. 

  • Analyzes smart governance for cities from a variety of perspectives and a variety of sectors – both in theory and in practice
  • Features information on the linkage between United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and smart governance
  • Covers the connection between research, policies and practice in smart governance for smart cities…(More)”.

Exploring the Smart City Indexes and the Role of Macro Factors for Measuring Cities Smartness


María Verónica Alderete in Social Indicators Research: “The main objective of this paper is to discuss the key factors involved in the definition of smart city indexes. Although recent literature has explored the smart city subject, it is of concern if macro ICT factors should also be considered for assessing the technological innovation of a city. To achieve this goal, firstly a literature review of smart city is provided. An analysis of the smart city concept together with a theoretical framework based on the knowledge society and the Quintuple Helix innovation model are included. Secondly, the study analyzes some smart city cases in developed and developing countries. Thirdly, it describes, criticizes and compares some well-known smart city indexes. Lastly, the empirical literature is explored to detect if there are studies proposing changes in smart city indexes or methodologies to consider the macro level variables. It results that cities at the top of the indexes rankings are from developed countries. On the other side, most cities at the bottom of the ranking are from developing or not developed countries. As a result, it is addressed that the ICT development of Smart Cities depends both on the cities’ characteristics and features, and on macro-technological factors. Secondly, there is a scarce number of papers in the subject including macro or country factors, and most of them are revisions of the literature or case studies. There is a lack of studies discussing the indexes’ methodologies. This paper provides some guidelines to build one….(More)”.

Smart Cities in Application: Healthcare, Policy, and Innovation


Book edited by Stan McClellan: “This book explores categories of applications and driving factors surrounding the Smart City phenomenon. The contributing authors provide perspective on the Smart Cities, covering numerous applications and classes of applications. The book uses a top-down exploration of the driving factors in Smart Cities, by including focal areas including “Smart Healthcare,” “Public Safety & Policy Issues,” and “Science, Technology, & Innovation.”  Contributors have direct and substantive experience with important aspects of Smart Cities and discuss issues with technologies & standards, roadblocks to implementation, innovations that create new opportunities, and other factors relevant to emerging Smart City infrastructures….(More)”.

Urbanism Under Google: Lessons from Sidewalk Toronto


Paper by Ellen P. Goodman and Julia Powles: “Cities around the world are rapidly adopting digital technologies, data analytics, and the trappings of “smart” infrastructure. No company is more ambitious about exploring data flows and seeking to dominate networks of information than Google. In October 2017, Google affiliate Sidewalk Labs embarked on its first prototype smart city in Toronto, Canada, planning a new kind of data-driven urban environment: “the world’s first neighborhood built from the internet up.” Although the vision is for an urban district foregrounding progressive ideals of inclusivity, for the crucial first 18 months of the venture, many of the most consequential features of the project were hidden from view and unavailable for serious scrutiny. The players defied public accountability on questions about data collection and surveillance, governance, privacy, competition, and procurement. Even more basic questions about the use of public space went unanswered: privatized services, land ownership, infrastructure deployment and, in all cases, the question of who is in control. What was hidden in this first stage, and what was revealed, suggest that the imagined smart city may be incompatible with democratic processes, sustained public governance, and the public interest.

This article analyzes the Sidewalk project in Toronto as it took shape in its first phase, prior to the release of the Master Innovation and Development Plan, exploring three major governance challenges posed by the imagined “city of the future”: privatization, platformization, and domination. The significance of this case study applies well beyond Toronto. Google and related companies are modeling future business growth embedded in cities and using projects like the one in Toronto as test beds. What happens in Toronto is designed to be replicated. We conclude with some lessons, highlighting the precarity of civic stewardship and public accountability when cities are confronted with tantalizing visions of privatized urban innovation…(More)”.

Data & Policy: A new venue to study and explore policy–data interaction


Opening editorial by Stefaan G. Verhulst, Zeynep Engin and Jon Crowcroft: “…Policy–data interactions or governance initiatives that use data have been the exception rather than the norm, isolated prototypes and trials rather than an indication of real, systemic change. There are various reasons for the generally slow uptake of data in policymaking, and several factors will have to change if the situation is to improve. ….

  • Despite the number of successful prototypes and small-scale initiatives, policy makers’ understanding of data’s potential and its value proposition generally remains limited (Lutes, 2015). There is also limited appreciation of the advances data science has made the last few years. This is a major limiting factor; we cannot expect policy makers to use data if they do not recognize what data and data science can do.
  • The recent (and justifiable) backlash against how certain private companies handle consumer data has had something of a reverse halo effect: There is a growing lack of trust in the way data is collected, analyzed, and used, and this often leads to a certain reluctance (or simply risk-aversion) on the part of officials and others (Engin, 2018).
  • Despite several high-profile open data projects around the world, much (probably the majority) of data that could be helpful in governance remains either privately held or otherwise hidden in silos (Verhulst and Young, 2017b). There remains a shortage not only of data but, more specifically, of high-quality and relevant data.
  • With few exceptions, the technical capacities of officials remain limited, and this has obviously negative ramifications for the potential use of data in governance (Giest, 2017).
  • It’s not just a question of limited technical capacities. There is often a vast conceptual and values gap between the policy and technical communities (Thompson et al., 2015; Uzochukwu et al., 2016); sometimes it seems as if they speak different languages. Compounding this difference in world views is the fact that the two communities rarely interact.
  • Yet, data about the use and evidence of the impact of data remain sparse. The impetus to use more data in policy making is stymied by limited scholarship and a weak evidential basis to show that data can be helpful and how. Without such evidence, data advocates are limited in their ability to make the case for more data initiatives in governance.
  • Data are not only changing the way policy is developed, but they have also reopened the debate around theory- versus data-driven methods in generating scientific knowledge (Lee, 1973; Kitchin, 2014; Chivers, 2018; Dreyfuss, 2017) and thus directly questioning the evidence base to utilization and implementation of data within policy making. A number of associated challenges are being discussed, such as: (i) traceability and reproducibility of research outcomes (due to “black box processing”); (ii) the use of correlation instead of causation as the basis of analysis, biases and uncertainties present in large historical datasets that cause replication and, in some cases, amplification of human cognitive biases and imperfections; and (iii) the incorporation of existing human knowledge and domain expertise into the scientific knowledge generation processes—among many other topics (Castelvecchi, 2016; Miller and Goodchild, 2015; Obermeyer and Emanuel, 2016; Provost and Fawcett, 2013).
  • Finally, we believe that there should be a sound under-pinning a new theory of what we call Policy–Data Interactions. To date, in reaction to the proliferation of data in the commercial world, theories of data management,1 privacy,2 and fairness3 have emerged. From the Human–Computer Interaction world, a manifesto of principles of Human–Data Interaction (Mortier et al., 2014) has found traction, which intends reducing the asymmetry of power present in current design considerations of systems of data about people. However, we need a consistent, symmetric approach to consideration of systems of policy and data, how they interact with one another.

All these challenges are real, and they are sticky. We are under no illusions that they will be overcome easily or quickly….

During the past four conferences, we have hosted an incredibly diverse range of dialogues and examinations by key global thought leaders, opinion leaders, practitioners, and the scientific community (Data for Policy, 2015201620172019). What became increasingly obvious was the need for a dedicated venue to deepen and sustain the conversations and deliberations beyond the limitations of an annual conference. This leads us to today and the launch of Data & Policy, which aims to confront and mitigate the barriers to greater use of data in policy making and governance.

Data & Policy is a venue for peer-reviewed research and discussion about the potential for and impact of data science on policy. Our aim is to provide a nuanced and multistranded assessment of the potential and challenges involved in using data for policy and to bridge the “two cultures” of science and humanism—as CP Snow famously described in his lecture on “Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution” (Snow, 1959). By doing so, we also seek to bridge the two other dichotomies that limit an examination of datafication and is interaction with policy from various angles: the divide between practice and scholarship; and between private and public…

So these are our principles: scholarly, pragmatic, open-minded, interdisciplinary, focused on actionable intelligence, and, most of all, innovative in how we will share insight and pushing at the boundaries of what we already know and what already exists. We are excited to launch Data & Policy with the support of Cambridge University Press and University College London, and we’re looking for partners to help us build it as a resource for the community. If you’re reading this manifesto it means you have at least a passing interest in the subject; we hope you will be part of the conversation….(More)”.

Information Sharing as a Dimension of Smartness: Understanding Benefits and Challenges in Two Megacities


Paper by J. Ramon Gil-Garcia, Theresa A. Pardo, and Manuel De Tuya: “Cities around the world are facing increasingly complex problems.

These problems frequently require collaboration and information sharing across agency boundaries.

In our view, information sharing can be seen as an important dimension of what is recently being called smartness in cities and enables the ability to improve decision making and day-to-day operations in urban settings. Unfortunately, what many city managers are learning is that there are important challenges to sharing information both within their city and with others.

Based on nonemergency service integration initiatives in New York City and Mexico City, this article examines important benefits from and challenges to information sharing in the context of what the participants characterize as smart city initiatives, particularly in large metropolitan areas.

The research question guiding this study is as follows: To what extent do previous findings about information sharing hold in the context of city initiatives, particularly in megacities?

The results provide evidence on the importance of some specific characteristics of cities and megalopolises and how they affect benefits and challenges of information sharing. For instance, cities seem to have more managerial flexibility than other jurisdictions such as state governments.

In addition, megalopolises have most of the necessary technical skills and financial resources needed for information sharing and, therefore, these challenges are not as relevant as in other local governments….(More)”.