Towards an effective framework for building smart cities: Lessons from Seoul and San Francisco


New paper by JH Lee, MG Hancock, MC Hu in Technological Forecasting and Social Change: “This study aims to shed light on the process of building an effective smart city by integrating various practical perspectives with a consideration of smart city characteristics taken from the literature. We developed a framework for conducting case studies examining how smart cities were being implemented in San Francisco and Seoul Metropolitan City. The study’s empirical results suggest that effective, sustainable smart cities emerge as a result of dynamic processes in which public and private sector actors coordinate their activities and resources on an open innovation platform. The different yet complementary linkages formed by these actors must further be aligned with respect to their developmental stage and embedded cultural and social capabilities. Our findings point to eight ‘stylized facts’, based on both quantitative and qualitative empirical results that underlie the facilitation of an effective smart city. In elaborating these facts, the paper offers useful insights to managers seeking to improve the delivery of smart city developmental projects.”
 

Using Participatory Crowdsourcing in South Africa to Create a Safer Living Environment


New Paper by Bhaveer Bhana, Stephen Flowerday, and Aharon Satt in the International Journal of Distributed Sensor Networks: “The increase in urbanisation is making the management of city resources a difficult task. Data collected through observations (utilising humans as sensors) of the city surroundings can be used to improve decision making in terms of managing these resources. However, the data collected must be of a certain quality in order to ensure that effective and efficient decisions are made. This study is focused on the improvement of emergency and non-emergency services (city resources) through the use of participatory crowdsourcing (humans as sensors) as a data collection method (collect public safety data), utilising voice technology in the form of an interactive voice response (IVR) system.
The study illustrates how participatory crowdsourcing (specifically humans as sensors) can be used as a Smart City initiative focusing on public safety by illustrating what is required to contribute to the Smart City, and developing a roadmap in the form of a model to assist decision making when selecting an optimal crowdsourcing initiative. Public safety data quality criteria were developed to assess and identify the problems affecting data quality.
This study is guided by design science methodology and applies three driving theories: the Data Information Knowledge Action Result (DIKAR) model, the characteristics of a Smart City, and a credible Data Quality Framework. Four critical success factors were developed to ensure high quality public safety data is collected through participatory crowdsourcing utilising voice technologies.”

A Manifesto for Smart Citizens


Frank Kresin from the Waag Society: “We, citizens of all cities, take the fate of the places we live in into our own hands. We care about the familiar buildings and the parks, the shops, the schools, the roads and the trees, but far more about the quality of the life we live in them. About the casual interactions, uncalled for encounters, the craze and the booze and the love we lost and found. We know that our lives are interconnected, and what we do here will impact the outcomes over there. While we can never predict the eventual effect of our actions, we take full responsibility to make this world a better place.
Therefore, we will refuse to be consumers, client and informants only, and reclaim agency towards the processes, algorithms and systems that shape our world. We need to know how decisions are made, we need to have the information that is at hand; we need to have direct access to the people in power, and be involved in the crafting of laws and procedures that we grapple with everyday.
Fortunately, we are not alone. We are well educated and have appropriated the tools to connect at the touch of a button, organize ourselves, make our voices heard. We have the tools to measure ourselves and our environment, to visualize and analyse the data, to come to conclusions and take action. We have continuous access to the best of learning in the world, to powerful phones and laptops and software, and to home-grown labs that help us make the things that others won’t. Furthermore we were inspired by such diverse examples as the 1% club, Avaaz, Kickstarter, Couchsurfing, Change by Us, and many, many more.
We are ready. But government is not. It was shaped in the 18th century, but increasingly struggles with 21st century problems it cannot solve. It lost touch with its citizens and is less and less equipped to provide the services and security it had pledged to offer. While it tries to build ‘smart cities’ that reinforce or strengthen the status quo – that was responsible for the problems in the first place – it loses sight of the most valuable resource it can tap into: the smart citizen.
Smart Citizens:

  • Will take responsibility for the place they live, work and love in;
  • Value access over ownership, contribution over power;
  • Will ask forgiveness, not permission;
  • Know where they can get the tools, knowledge and support they need;
  • Value empathy, dialogue and trust;
  • Appropriate technology, rather than accept it as is;
  • Will help the people that struggle with smart stuff;
  • Ask questions, then more questions, before they come up with answers;
  • Actively take part in design efforts to come up with better solutions;
  • Work agile, prototype early, test quickly and know when to start over;
  • Will not stop in the face of seemingly huge boundariesbarriers;
  • Unremittingly share their knowledge and their learning, because they know this is where true value comes from.

All over the world, smart citizens take action. We self-organise, form cooperations, share resources and take back full responsibility for the care of our children and elderly. We pop up restaurants, harvest renewable energy, maintain urban gardens, build temporary structures and nurture compassion and trust. We kickstart the products and services we care about, repair and upcycle, or learn how to manufacture things ourselves. We even coined new currencies in response to events that recently shook our comfortable world, but were never solved by the powers that be.
Until now, we have mostly worked next to governments, sometimes against them, but hardly ever with them. As a result, many of the initiatives so far have been one-offs, inspiring but not game changing. We have put lots of energy into small-scale interventions that briefly flared and then returned to business as usual. Just imagine what will happen if our energy, passion and knowledge are teamed up by governments that know how to implement and scale up. Governments that take full responsibility for participating in the open dialogue that is needed to radically rethink the systems that were built decades ago.
One day we will wake up and realise WE ARE OUR GOVERNMENT. Without us, there is nobody there. As it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a people to craft a society. We know it can be done; it was done before. And with the help of new technologies it is easier than ever. So let’s actively set out to build truly smart cities, with smart citizens at their helms, and together become the change that we want to see in this world.”

Do you want to live in a smart city?


Jane Wakefield from BBC News: “In the future everything in a city, from the electricity grid, to the sewer pipes to roads, buildings and cars will be connected to the network. Buildings will turn off the lights for you, self-driving cars will find you that sought-after parking space, even the rubbish bins will be smart. But how do we get to this smarter future. Who will be monitoring and controlling the sensors that will increasingly be on every building, lamp-post and pipe in the city?…
There is another chapter in the smart city story – and this one is being written by citizens, who are using apps, DIY sensors, smartphones and the web to solve the city problems that matter to them.
Don’t Flush Me is a neat little DIY sensor and app which is single-handedly helping to solve one of New York’s biggest water issues.
Every time there is heavy rain in the city, raw sewage is pumped into the harbour, at a rate of 27 billion gallons each year.
Using an Arduino processor, a sensor which measures water levels in the sewer overflows and a smart phone app, Don’t Flush Me lets people know when it is ‘safe to flush’.
Meanwhile Egg, a community-led sensor network, is alerting people to an often hidden problem in our cities.
Researchers estimate that two million people die each year as a result of air pollution and as cities get more over-crowded, the problem is likely to get worse.
Egg is compiling data about air quality by selling cheap sensor which people put outside their homes where they collect readings of green gases, nitrogen oxide (NO2) and carbon monoxide (CO)….
The reality is that most smart city projects are currently pretty small scale – creating tech hubs or green areas of the city, experimenting with smart electricity grids or introducing electric buses or bike-sharing schemes.”

Sitegeist


“Sitegeist is a mobile application that helps you to learn more about your surroundings in seconds. Drawing on publicly available information, the app presents solid data in a simple at-a-glance format to help you tap into the pulse of your location. From demographics about people and housing to the latest popular spots or weather, Sitegeist presents localized information visually so you can get back to enjoying the neighborhood. The application draws on free APIs such as the U.S. Census, Yelp! and others to showcase what’s possible with access to data. Sitegeist was created by the Sunlight Foundation in consultation with design firm IDEO and with support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. It is the third in a series of National Data Apps.”

Data-Smart City Solutions


Press Release: “Today the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School announced the launch of Data-Smart City Solutions, a new initiative aimed at using big data and analytics to transform the way local government operates. Bringing together leading industry, academic, and government officials, the initiative will offer city leaders a national depository of cases and best practice examples where cities and private partners use analytics to solve city problems. Data-Smart City Solutions is funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

Data-Smart City Solutions highlights best practices, curates resources, and supports cities embarking on new data projects. The initiative’s website contains feature-length articles on how data drives innovation in different policy areas, profile pieces on municipal leaders at the forefront of implementing data analytics in their cities, and resources for interested officials to begin data projects in their own communities.
Recent articles include an assessment of Boston’s Adopt-a-Hydrant program as a potential harbinger of future city work promoting civic engagement and infrastructure maintenance, and a feature on how predictive technology is transforming police work. The site also spotlights municipal use of data such as San Francisco’s efforts to integrate data from different social service departments to better identify and serve at-risk youth. In addition to visiting the initiative’s website, Data-Smart City Solutions’ work is chronicled in their newsletter as well as on their Twitter page.”

Is Cybertopianism Really Such a Bad Thing?


in Slate: “As the historian and technology scholar Langdon Winner suggests, “The arrival of any new technology that has significant power and practical potential always brings with it a wave of visionary enthusiasm that anticipates the rise of a utopian social order.” Technologies that connect individuals to one another—like the airplane, the telegraph, and the radio—appear particularly powerful at helping us imagine a smaller, more connected world. Seen through this lens, the Internet’s underlying architecture—it is no more and no less than a network that connects networks—and the sheer amount written about it in the past decade guaranteed that the network would be placed at the center of visions for a world made better through connection. These visions are so abundant that they’ve even spawned a neologism: “cyberutopianism.”

The term “cyberutopian” tends to be used only in the context of critique. Calling someone a cyberutopian implies that he or she has an unrealistic and naïvely overinflated sense of what technology makes possible and an insufficient understanding of the forces that govern societies. Curiously, the commonly used term for an opposite stance, a belief that Internet technologies are weakening society, coarsening discourse, and hastening conflict is described with a less weighted term: “cyberskepticism.” Whether or not either of these terms adequately serves us in this debate, we should consider cyberutopianism’s appeal, and its merits….

If we reject the notion that technology makes certain changes inevitable, but accept that the aspirations of the “cyberutopians” are worthy ones, we are left with a challenge: How do we rewire the tools we’ve built to maximize our impact on an interconnected world? Accepting the shortcomings of the systems we’ve built as inevitable and unchangeable is lazy. As Benjamin Disraeli observed in Vivian Grey, “Man is not the creature of circumstances, circumstances are the creatures of men. We are free agents, and man is more powerful than matter.” And, as Rheingold suggests, believing that people can use technology to build a world that’s more just, fair, and inclusive isn’t merely defensible. It’s practically a moral imperative.


Excerpted from Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection by Ethan Zuckerman.

Frameworks for a Location–Enabled Society


Annual CGA Conference “Location-enabled devices are weaving “smart grids” and building “smart cities;” they allow people to discover a friend in a shopping mall, catch a bus at its next stop, check surrounding air quality while walking down a street, or avoid a rain storm on a tourist route – now or in the near future. And increasingly they allow those who provide services to track, whether we are walking past stores on the street or seeking help in a natural disaster.
The Centre for Spatial Law and Policy based in Washington, DC, the Center for Geographic Analysis, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University are co-hosting a two-day program examining the legal and policy issues that will impact geospatial technologies and the development of location-enabled societies. The event will take place at Harvard University on May 2-3, 2013…The goal is to explore the different dimensions of policy and legal concerns in geospatial technology applications, and to begin in creating a policy and legal framework for a location-enabled society. Download the conference program brochure.
Live Webcast:

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Two-Way Citizen Engagement


StuffGovernment Technology: “A couple of years ago, a conversation was brewing among city leaders in the Sacramento, Calif., suburb of Elk Grove — the city realized it could no longer afford to limit interactions with an increasingly smartphone-equipped population to between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m… The city considered several options, including a vendor-built mobile app tailor-made to meet its specific needs. And during this process, the city discovered civic engagement startup PublicStuff. Founded by Forbes’ 30 Under 30 honoree Lily Liu, the company offers a service request platform that lets users report issues of concern to the city.

Liu, who previously held positions with both New York City and Long Beach, Calif., realized that many cities couldn’t afford a full-blown 311 call center system to handle citizen requests. Many need a less expensive way of providing responsive customer service to the community. PublicStuff now fills that need for more than 200 cities across the country.”