The Hidden Cost of Using Amazon Mechanical Turk for Research


Paper by Antonios Saravanos: “This work shares unexpected findings obtained from the use of the Amazon Mechanical Turk platform as a source of participants for the study of technology adoption. Expressly, of the 564 participants from the United States, 126 (22.34%) failed at least one of three forms of attention check (logic, honesty, and time). We also examined whether characteristics such as gender, age, education, and income affected participant attention. Amongst all characteristics assessed, only prior experience with the technology being studied was found to be related to attentiveness. We conclude this work by reaffirming the need for multiple forms of attention checks to gauge participant attention. Furthermore, we propose that researchers adjust their budgets accordingly to account for the possibility of having to discard responses from participants determined not to be displaying adequate attention….(More)”.

The Nudge Puzzle: Matching Nudge Interventions to Cybersecurity Decisions


Paper by Verena Zimmermann and Karen Renaud: “Nudging is a promising approach, in terms of influencing people to make advisable choices in a range of domains, including cybersecurity. However, the processes underlying the concept and the nudge’s effectiveness in different contexts, and in the long term, are still poorly understood. Our research thus first reviewed the nudge concept and differentiated it from other interventions before applying it to the cybersecurity area. We then carried out an empirical study to assess the effectiveness of three different nudge-related interventions on four types of cybersecurity-specific decisions. Our study demonstrated that the combination of a simple nudge and information provision, termed a “hybrid nudge,” was at least as, and in some decision contexts even more effective in encouraging secure choices as the simple nudge on its own. This indicates that the inclusion of information when deploying a nudge, thereby increasing the intervention’s transparency, does not necessarily diminish its effectiveness.

A follow-up study explored the educational and long-term impact of our tested nudge interventions to encourage secure choices. The results indicate that the impact of the initial nudges, of all kinds, did not endure. We conclude by discussing our findings and their implications for research and practice….(More)”.

Data for Good: New Tools to Help Small Businesses and Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic


Blogpost by Laura McGorman and Alex Pompe at Facebook: “Small businesses and people around the world are suffering devastating financial losses due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, and public institutions need real time information to help. Today Facebook is launching new datasets and insights to help support economic recovery through our Data for Good program. 

Researchers estimate that over the next five years, the global economy could suffer over $80 trillion in losses due to COVID-19. Small businesses in particular are being hit hard — our Global State of Small Business Report found that over one in four had closed their doors in 2020. Governments around the world are looking to effectively distribute financial aid as well as accurately forecast when and how economies will recover. These four datasets — Business Activity Trends, Commuting Zones, Economic Insights from the Symptom Survey and the latest Future of Business Survey results — will help researchers, nonprofits and local officials identify which areas and businesses may need the most support.

Business Activity Trends

Many factors influence the pandemic’s impact on local economies around the world. However, real time information on business activity is scarce, leaving institutions seeking to provide economic aid with limited information on how to distribute it. To address these information gaps, we partnered with the University of Bristol to aggregate information from Facebook Business Pages to estimate the change in activity among local businesses around the world and how they respond and recover from crises over time.

UK graph showing average business activity
The above graph shows the drop in Business Page posting on Facebook across cities in the UK the day after the Prime Minister announced lockdown measures. Business Activity Trends can be used to determine how businesses and customers are reacting to local COVID-19 containment policies.

“Determining whether small and medium businesses are open is very important to assess the recovery after events like mandatory stay-at-home orders,” said Dr. Flavia De Luca, Senior Lecturer in Structural and Earthquake Engineering at the University of Bristol. “The traditional way of collecting this information, such as surveys and interviews, are usually costly, time consuming, and do not scale. By using real time information from Facebook, we hope to make it easier for public institutions to better respond to these events.”…(More)”.

Smart urban governance: an alternative to technocratic “smartness”


Paper by Huaxiong Jiang, Stan Geertman & Patrick Witte: “This paper argues for a specific urban planning perspective on smart governance that we call “smart urban governance,” which represents a move away from the technocratic way of governing cities often found in smart cities. A framework on smart urban governance is proposed on the basis of three intertwined key components, namely spatial, institutional, and technological components. To test the applicability of the framework, we conducted an international questionnaire survey on smart city projects. We then identified and discursively analyzed two smart city projects—Smart Nation Singapore and Helsinki Smart City—to illustrate how this framework works in practice. The questionnaire survey revealed that smart urban governance varies remarkably: As urban issues differ in different contexts, the governance modes and relevant ICT functionalities applied also differ considerably. Moreover, the case analysis indicates that a focus on substantive urban challenges helps to define appropriate modes of governance and develop dedicated technologies that can contribute to solving specific smart city challenges. The analyses of both cases highlight the importance of context (cultural, political, economic, etc.) in analyzing interactions between the components. In this, smart urban governance promotes a sociotechnical way of governing cities in the “smart” era by starting with the urban issue at stake, promoting demand-driven governance modes, and shaping technological intelligence more socially, given the specific context….(More)”.

Extending the framework of algorithmic regulation. The Uber case


Paper by Florian Eyert, Florian Irgmaier, and Lena Ulbricht: “In this article, we take forward recent initiatives to assess regulation based on contemporary computer technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence. In order to characterize current phenomena of regulation in the digital age, we build on Karen Yeung’s concept of “algorithmic regulation,” extending it by building bridges to the fields of quantification, classification, and evaluation research, as well as to science and technology studies. This allows us to develop a more fine‐grained conceptual framework that analyzes the three components of algorithmic regulation as representationdirection, and intervention and proposes subdimensions for each. Based on a case study of the algorithmic regulation of Uber drivers, we show the usefulness of the framework for assessing regulation in the digital age and as a starting point for critique and alternative models of algorithmic regulation….(More)”.

Building Trust for Inter-Organizational Data Sharing: The Case of the MLDE


Paper by Heather McKay, Sara Haviland, and Suzanne Michael: “There is increasing interest in sharing data across agencies and even between states that was once siloed in separate agencies. Driving this is a need to better understand how people experience education and work, and their pathways through each. A data-sharing approach offers many possible advantages, allowing states to leverage pre-existing data systems to conduct increasingly sophisticated and complete analyses. However, information sharing across state organizations presents a series of complex challenges, one of which is the central role trust plays in building successful data-sharing systems. Trust building between organizations is therefore crucial to ensuring project success.

This brief examines the process of building trust within the context of the development and implementation of the Multistate Longitudinal Data Exchange (MLDE). The brief is based on research and evaluation activities conducted by Rutgers’ Education & Employment Research Center (EERC) over the past five years, which included 40 interviews with state leaders and the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) staff, observations of user group meetings, surveys, and MLDE document analysis. It is one in a series of MLDE briefs developed by EERC….(More)”.

Leveraging Telecom Data to Aid Humanitarian Efforts


Data Collaborative Case Study by Michelle Winowatan, Andrew J. Zahuranec, Andrew Young, and Stefaan Verhulst: “Following the 2015 earthquake in Nepal, Flowminder, a data analytics nonprofit, and NCell, a mobile operator in Nepal, formed a data collaborative. Using call detail records (CDR, a type of mobile operator data) provided by NCell, Flowminder estimated the number of people displaced by the earthquake and their location. The result of the analysis was provided to various humanitarian agencies responding to the crisis in Nepal to make humanitarian aid delivery more efficient and targeted.

Data Collaboratives Model: Based on our typology of data collaborative practice areas, the initiative follows the trusted intermediary model of data collaboration, specifically a third-party analytics approach. Third-party analytics projects involve trusted intermediaries — such as Flowminder — who access private-sector data, conduct targeted analysis, and share insights with public or civil sector partners without sharing the underlying data. This approach enables public interest uses of private-sector data while retaining strict access control. It brings outside data expertise that would likely not be available otherwise using direct bilateral collaboration between data holders and users….(More)”.

Improving data access democratizes and diversifies science


Research article by Abhishek Nagaraj, Esther Shears, and Mathijs de Vaan: “Data access is critical to empirical research, but past work on open access is largely restricted to the life sciences and has not directly analyzed the impact of data access restrictions. We analyze the impact of improved data access on the quantity, quality, and diversity of scientific research. We focus on the effects of a shift in the accessibility of satellite imagery data from Landsat, a NASA program that provides valuable remote-sensing data. Our results suggest that improved access to scientific data can lead to a large increase in the quantity and quality of scientific research. Further, better data access disproportionately enables the entry of scientists with fewer resources, and it promotes diversity of scientific research….(More)”

TraceTogether


Case Notes by Mitchell B. Weiss and Sarah Mehta: “By April 7, 2020, over 1.4 million people worldwide had contracted the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Governments raced to curb the spread of COVID-19 by scaling up testing, quarantining those infected, and tracing their possible contacts. It had taken Singapore’s Government Technology Agency (GovTech) and Ministry of Health (MOH) all of eight weeks to develop the world’s first nationwide deployment of a Bluetooth-based contact tracing system, TraceTogether, and deploy it in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. From late January to mid-March 2020, GovTech’s Jason Bay and his team raced to create a technology that would supplement the work of Singapore’s human contact tracers. Days after its launch, Singapore’s foreign minister announced plans to open source the technology. Now, in early April, TraceTogether was a beta for the world. Whether the system would really help in Singapore, and whether other countries should adopt it was still a wide-open question….(More)”.

Going Beyond the Smart City? Implementing Technopolitical Platforms for Urban Democracy in Madrid and Barcelona


Paper by Adrian Smith & Pedro Prieto Martín: “Digital platforms for urban democracy are analyzed in Madrid and Barcelona. These platforms permit citizens to debate urban issues with other citizens; to propose developments, plans, and policies for city authorities; and to influence how city budgets are spent. Contrasting with neoliberal assumptions about Smart Citizenship, the technopolitics discourse underpinning these developments recognizes that the technologies facilitating participation have themselves to be developed democratically. That is, technopolitical platforms are built and operate as open, commons-based processes for learning, reflection, and adaptation. These features prove vital to platform implementation consistent with aspirations for citizen engagement and activism….(More)”.