This vending machine will deny you snacks based on medical records

Springwise: “Businesses often stand by the motto ‘the customer is always right’ — but are they? We’ve already seen a few services that deny consumers what they want based on their personal info. For example, Billboard Brasil’s Fan Check Machine only gave out copies of the music magazine if the buyer could prove they owned tracks by the artist on the cover. Now the Luce X2 Touch TV vending machine uses facial recognition and customers’ medical records to determine if they should be allowed to buy an unhealthy snack.
Created by Italy-based Rhea Vendors and recently launched in the UK, the machine features a 22-inch touchscreen display that lets customers to select an item just like a standard vending machine. However, before the snack is released customers with an account can go through a facial recognition check.
The technology detects the customer’s age, build and mood in order to determine whether the purchase is a wise decision. The machine can also be programmed to access information about the user’s medical records and purchase history. If the algorithms decide that purchasing a coffee with 3 sugars or the fourth candy bar of the day is a bad idea for their health or mood, it can refuse to vend the product.
While some customers won’t appreciate their private data being analyzed or getting rejected by a lifeless machine, the idea could be a savior for those on a diet….(More).

HyperCities: Thick Mapping in the Digital Humanities

Book by Todd Presner, David Shepard, Yoh Kawano: “The prefix “hyper” refers to multiplicity and abundance. More than a physical space, a hypercity is a real city overlaid with information networks that document the past, catalyze the present, and project future possibilities. Hypercities are always under construction.
Todd Presner, David Shepard, and Yoh Kawano put digital humanities theory into practice to chart the proliferating cultural records of places around the world. A digital platform transmogrified into a book, it explains the ambitious online project of the same name that maps the historical layers of city spaces in an interactive, hypermedia environment. The authors examine the media archaeology of Google Earth and the cultural–historical meaning of map projections, and explore recent events—the “Arab Spring” and the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster—through social media mapping that incorporates data visualizations, photographic documents, and Twitter streams. A collaboratively authored and designed work, HyperCities includes a “ghost map” of downtown Los Angeles, polyvocal memory maps of LA’s historic Filipinotown, avatar-based explorations of ancient Rome, and hour-by-hour mappings of the Tehran election protests of 2009.
Not a book about maps in the literal sense, HyperCities describes thick mapping: the humanist project of participating and listening that transforms mapping into an ethical undertaking. Ultimately, the digital humanities do not consist merely of computer-based methods for analyzing information. They are a means of integrating scholarship with the world of lived experience, making sense of the past in the layered spaces of the present for the sake of the open future.”

Surprise! Creativity in the Public Sector

Jes Howen McBride at Good Magazine: “….As a watchword, “innovation” has been slow to infiltrate the public sector. We are a nation of private inventors and public regulators. However, while this bizarre gem of a cover page may not signify a major event, I see it as an indicator of where the public sector is headed. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, a CalTrans supervisor said of the cover, “This was an innovative project… We wanted people to notice the document and open it up.” And it worked. This “innovative project” brought attention to the 1,300-page report, which was not mentioned in local media until people noticed the unconventional cover page.

Less than a month later, the mayor of Los Angeles perpetuated the theme of public sector ingenuity by announcing an “Innovation Fund.” The Fund will support creative solutions proposed not by professionals in the art or tech industries, but by city employees. Anyone from janitors to general managers will be able to submit original ideas to improve the status quo. This initiative acknowledges the innovative potential in city staff and, moreover, provides funding to effectively tap into that potential.
The idea of creative change within the public sector aligns with the philosophy behind the Startup Cities Institute. Their model encourages unconventional ideas to be implemented by cities on a small scale to find solutions to problems in governance, infrastructure, and similar challenges. The key concept in this approach is that innovation comes not only from outside city hall, but from inside as well. Even though planners love guerrilla urbanism, it’s pretty spectacular when city government pulls off a good surprise. Some of my favorite “surprise-innovations” are New York’s Time Square beach chairs, Bogata’s traffic control mimes, and Hans Monderman’s naked streets, all conceived and executed by the public sector.
Innovative acts can be found everywhere. I have many friends in creative industries, but also some who are nurses, teachers, social workers, and full-time parents, and they are among the most creative people I know. I work for the City of Los Angeles in the Planning Department. I have seen the political and logistical challenges that the public sector is up against, but I am convinced that we can meet these challenges with novel ideas, fresh perspectives, and unconventional approaches. (And maybe some ‘90s clip art.) We can serve the public as well as delight them. That is the future of public service.…”

4 Tech Trends Changing How Cities Operate

at Governing: “Louis Brandeis famously characterized states as laboratories for democracy, but cities could be called labs for innovation or new practices….When Government Technology magazine (produced by Governing’s parent company, e.Republic, Inc.) published its annual Digital Cities Survey, the results provided an interesting look at how local governments are using technology to improve how they deliver services, increase production and streamline operations…the survey also showed four technology trends changing how local government operates and serves its citizens:

1. Open Data

…Big cities were the first to open up their data and gained national attention for their transparency. New York City, which passed an open data law in 2012, leads all cities with more than 1,300 data sets open to the public; Chicago started opening up data to the public in 2010 following an executive order and is second among cities with more than 600; and San Francisco, which was the first major city to open the doors to transparency in 2009, had the highest score from the U.S. Open Data Census for the quality of its open data.
But the survey shows that a growing number of mid-sized jurisdictions are now getting involved, too. Tacoma, Wash., has a portal with 40 data sets that show how the city is spending tax dollars on public works, economic development, transportation and public safety. Ann Arbor, Mich., has a financial transparency tool that reveals what the city is spending on a daily basis, in some cases….

2. ‘Stat’ Programs and Data Analytics

…First, the so-called “stat” programs are proliferating. Started by the New York Police Department in the 1980s, CompStat was a management technique that merged data with staff feedback to drive better performance by police officers and precinct captains. Its success led to many imitations over the years and, as the digital survey shows, stat programs continue to grow in importance. For example, Louisville has used its “LouieStat” program to cut the city’s bill for unscheduled employee overtime by $23 million as well as to spot weaknesses in performance.
Second, cities are increasing their use of data analytics to measure and improve performance. Denver, Jacksonville, Fla., and Phoenix have launched programs that sift through data sets to find patterns that can lead to better governance decisions. Los Angeles has combined transparency with analytics to create an online system that tracks performance for the city’s economy, service delivery, public safety and government operations that the public can view. Robert J. O’Neill Jr., executive director of the International City/County Management Association, said that both of these tech-driven performance trends “enable real-time decision-making.” He argued that public leaders who grasp the significance of these new tools can deliver government services that today’s constituents expect.

3. Online Citizen Engagement

…Avondale, Ariz., population 78,822, is engaging citizens with a mobile app and an online forum that solicits ideas that other residents can vote up or down.
In Westminster, Colo., population 110,945, a similar forum allows citizens to vote online about community ideas and gives rewards to users who engage with the online forum on a regular basis (free passes to a local driving range or fitness program). Cities are promoting more engagement activities to combat a decline in public trust in government. The days when a public meeting could provide citizen engagement aren’t enough in today’s technology-dominated  world. That’s why social media tools, online surveys and even e-commerce rewards programs are popping up in cities around the country to create high-value interaction with its citizens.

4. Geographic Information Systems

… Cities now use them to analyze financial decisions to increase performance, support public safety, improve public transit, run social service activities and, increasingly, engage citizens about their city’s governance.
Augusta, Ga., won an award for its well-designed and easy-to-use transit maps. Sugar Land, Texas, uses GIS to support economic development and, as part of its citizen engagement efforts, to highlight its capital improvement projects. GIS is now used citywide by 92 percent of the survey respondents. That’s significant because GIS has long been considered a specialized (and expensive) technology primarily for city planning and environmental projects….”

Could digital badges clarify the roles of co-authors?

  at AAAS Science Magazine: “Ever look at a research paper and wonder how the half-dozen or more authors contributed to the work? After all, it’s usually only the first or last author who gets all the media attention or the scientific credit when people are considered for jobs, grants, awards, and more. Some journals try to address this issue with the “authors’ contributions” sections within a paper, but a collection of science, publishing, and software groups is now developing a more modern solution—digital “badges,” assigned on publication of a paper online, that detail what each author did for the work and that the authors can link to their profiles elsewhere on the Web.

Digital badges could clarify co-authors' roles

Those organizations include publishers BioMed Central and the Public Library of Science; The Wellcome Trust research charity; software development groups Mozilla Science Lab (a group of researchers, developers, librarians, and publishers) and Digital Science (a software and technology firm); and ORCID, an effort to assign researchers digital identifiers. The collaboration presented its progress on the project at the Mozilla Festival in London that ended last week. (Mozilla is the open software community behind the Firefox browser and other programs.)
The infrastructure of the badges is still being established, with early prototypes scheduled to launch early next year, according to Amye Kenall, the journal development manager of open data initiatives and journals at BioMed Central. She envisions the badge process in the following way: Once an article is published, the publisher would alert software maintained by Mozilla to automatically set up an online form, where authors fill out roles using a detailed contributor taxonomy. After the authors have completed this, the badges would then appear next to their names on the journal article, and double-clicking on a badge would lead to the ORCID site for that particular author, where the author’s badges, integrated with their publishing record, live….
The parties behind the digital badge effort are “looking to change behavior” of scientists in the competitive dog-eat-dog world of academia by acknowledging contributions, says Kaitlin Thaney, director of Mozilla Science Lab. Amy Brand, vice president of academic and research relations and VP of North America at Digital Science, says that the collaboration believes that the badges should be optional, to accommodate old-fashioned or less tech-savvy authors. She says that the digital credentials may improve lab culture, countering situations where junior scientists are caught up in lab politics and the “star,” who didn’t do much of the actual research apart from obtaining the funding, gets to be the first author of the paper and receive the most credit. “All of this calls out for more transparency,” Brand says….”

The New Thing in Google Flu Trends Is Traditional Data

in the New York Times: “Google is giving its Flu Trends service an overhaul — “a brand new engine,” as it announced in a blog post on Friday.

The new thing is actually traditional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that is being integrated into the Google flu-tracking model. The goal is greater accuracy after the Google service had been criticized for consistently over-estimating flu outbreaks in recent years.

The main critique came in an analysis done by four quantitative social scientists, published earlier this year in an article in Science magazine, “The Parable of Google Flu: Traps in Big Data Analysis.” The researchers found that the most accurate flu predictor was a data mash-up that combined Google Flu Trends, which monitored flu-related search terms, with the official C.D.C. reports from doctors on influenza-like illness.

The Google Flu Trends team is heeding that advice. In the blog post, written by Christian Stefansen, a Google senior software engineer, wrote, “We’re launching a new Flu Trends model in the United States that — like many of the best performing methods in the literature — takes official CDC flu data into account as the flu season progresses.”

Google’s flu-tracking service has had its ups and downs. Its triumph came in 2009, when it gave an advance signal of the severity of the H1N1 outbreak, two weeks or so ahead of official statistics. In a 2009 article in Nature explaining how Google Flu Trends worked, the company’s researchers did, as the Friday post notes, say that the Google service was not intended to replace official flu surveillance methods and that it was susceptible to “false alerts” — anything that might prompt a surge in flu-related search queries.

Yet those caveats came a couple of pages into the Nature article. And Google Flu Trends became a symbol of the superiority of the new, big data approach — computer algorithms mining data trails for collective intelligence in real time. To enthusiasts, it seemed so superior to the antiquated method of collecting health data that involved doctors talking to patients, inspecting them and filing reports.

But Google’s flu service greatly overestimated the number of cases in the United States in the 2012-13 flu season — a well-known miss — and, according to the research published this year, has persistently overstated flu cases over the years. In the Science article, the social scientists called it “big data hubris.”

Smarter video games, thanks to crowdsourcing

AAAS –Science Magazine: “Despite the stereotypes, any serious gamer knows it’s way more fun to play with real people than against the computer. Video game artificial intelligence, or AI, just isn’t very good; it’s slow, predictable, and generally stupid. All that stands to change, however, if GiantOtter, a Massachusetts-based startup, has its way, New Scientist reports. By crowdsourcing the AI’s learning, GiantOtter hopes to build systems where the computer can learn based on player’s previous behaviors, decision-making, and even voice communication—yes, the computer is listening in as you strategize. The hope is that by abandoning the traditional scripted programming models, AIs can be taught to mimic human behaviors, leading to more dynamic and challenging scenarios even in incredibly complex games like Blizzard Entertainment Inc.’s professionally played StarCraft II.

An Infographic That Maps 2,000 Years of Cultural History in 5 Minutes

in Wired:  “…Last week in the journal Science, the researchers (led by University of Texas art historian Maximilian Schich) published a study that looked at the cultural history of Europe and North America by mapping the birth and deaths of more than 150,000 notable figures—including everyone from Leonardo Da Vinci to Ernest Hemingway. That data was turned into an amazing animated infographic that looks strikingly similar to the illustrated flight paths you find in the back of your inflight magazine. Blue dots indicate a birth, red ones means death.

The researchers used data from Freebase, which touts itself as a “community curated database of people, places and things.” This gives the data a strong western-bent. You’ll notice that many parts of Asia and the Middle East (not to mention pre-colonized North America), are almost wholly ignored in this video. But to be fair, the abstract did acknowledge that the study was focused mainly on Europe and North America.
Still, mapping the geography of cultural migration does gives you some insight about how the kind of culture we value has shifted over the centuries. It’s also a novel lens through which to view our more general history, as those migration trends likely illuminate bigger historical happenings like wars and the building of cross-country infrastructure.

'Big Data' Will Change How You Play, See the Doctor, Even Eat

We’re entering an age of personal big data, and its impact on our lives will surpass that of the Internet. Data will answer questions we could never before answer with certainty—everyday questions like whether that dress actually makes you look fat, or profound questions about precisely how long you will live.


Every 20 years or so, a powerful technology moves from the realm of backroom expertise and into the hands of the masses. In the late-1970s, computing made that transition—from mainframes in glass-enclosed rooms to personal computers on desks. In the late 1990s, the first web browsers made networks, which had been for science labs and the military, accessible to any of us, giving birth to the modern Internet.

Each transition touched off an explosion of innovation and reshaped work and leisure. In 1975, 50,000 PCs were in use worldwide. Twenty years later: 225 million. The number of Internet users in 1995 hit 16 million. Today it’s more than 3 billion. In much of the world, it’s hard to imagine life without constant access to both computing and networks.

The 2010s will be the coming-out party for data. Gathering, accessing and gleaning insights from vast and deep data has been a capability locked inside enterprises long enough. Cloud computing and mobile devices now make it possible to stand in a bathroom line at a baseball game while tapping into massive computing power and databases. On the other end, connected devices such as the Nest thermostat or Fitbit health monitor and apps on smartphones increasingly collect new kinds of information about everyday personal actions and habits, turning it into data about ourselves.

More than 80 percent of data today is unstructured: tangles of YouTube videos, news stories, academic papers, social network comments. Unstructured data has been almost impossible to search for, analyze and mix with other data. A new generation of computers—cognitive computing systems that learn from data—will read tweets or e-books or watch video, and comprehend its content. Somewhat like brains, these systems can link diverse bits of data to come up with real answers, not just search results.

Such systems can work in natural language. The progenitor is the IBM Watson computer that won on Jeopardy in 2011. Next-generation Watsons will work like a super-powered Google. (Google today is a data-searching wimp compared with what’s coming.)

Sports offers a glimpse into the data age. Last season the NBA installed in every arena technology that can “watch” a game and record, in 48 minutes of action, more than 4 million data points about every movement and shot. That alone could yield new insights for NBA coaches, such as which group of five players most efficiently passes the ball around….

Think again about life before personal computing and the Internet. Even if someone told you that you’d eventually carry a computer in your pocket that was always connected to global networks, you would’ve had a hard time imagining what that meant—imagining WhatsApp, Siri, Pandora, Uber, Evernote, Tinder.

As data about everything becomes ubiquitous and democratized, layered on top of computing and networks, it will touch off the most spectacular technology explosion yet. We can see the early stages now. “Big data” doesn’t even begin to describe the enormity of what’s coming next.”

Urban Analytics (Updated and Expanded)

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of opening governance by organizing and disseminating its learnings, the GovLab Selected Readings series provides an annotated and curated collection of recommended works on key opening governance topics. In this edition, we explore the literature on Urban Analytics. To suggest additional readings on this or any other topic, please email

Data and its uses for Governance

Urban Analytics places better information in the hands of citizens as well as government officials to empower people to make more informed choices. Today, we are able to gather real-time information about traffic, pollution, noise, and environmental and safety conditions by culling data from a range of tools: from the low-cost sensors in mobile phones to more robust monitoring tools installed in our environment. With data collected and combined from the built, natural and human environments, we can develop more robust predictive models and use those models to make policy smarter.

With the computing power to transmit and store the data from these sensors, and the tools to translate raw data into meaningful visualizations, we can identify problems as they happen, design new strategies for city management, and target the application of scarce resources where they are most needed.

Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Annotated Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)
Amini, L., E. Bouillet, F. Calabrese, L. Gasparini, and O. Verscheure. “Challenges and Results in City-scale Sensing.” In IEEE Sensors, 59–61, 2011.

  • This paper examines “how city requirements map to research challenges in machine learning, optimization, control, visualization, and semantic analysis.”
  • The authors raises several research challenges including how to extract accurate information when the data is noisy and sparse; how to represent findings from digital pervasive technologies; and how people interact with one another and their environment.

Batty, M., K. W. Axhausen, F. Giannotti, A. Pozdnoukhov, A. Bazzani, M. Wachowicz, G. Ouzounis, and Y. Portugali. “Smart Cities of the Future.The European Physical Journal Special Topics 214, no. 1 (November 1, 2012): 481–518.

  • This paper explores the goals and research challenges involved in the development of smart cities that merge ICT with traditional infrastructures through digital technologies.
  • The authors put forth several research objectives, including: 1) to explore the notion of the city as a laboratory for innovation; 2) to develop technologies that ensure equity, fairness and realize a better quality of city life; and 3) to develop technologies that ensure informed participation and create shared knowledge for democratic city governance.
  • The paper also examines several contemporary smart city initiatives, expected paradigm shifts in the field, benefits, risks and impacts.

Budde, Paul. “Smart Cities of Tomorrow.” In Cities for Smart Environmental and Energy Futures, edited by Stamatina Th Rassia and Panos M. Pardalos, 9–20. Energy Systems. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2014.

  • This paper examines the components and strategies involved in the creation of smart cities featuring “cohesive and open telecommunication and software architecture.”
  • In their study of smart cities, the authors examine smart and renewable energy; next-generation networks; smart buildings; smart transport; and smart government.
  • They conclude that for the development of smart cities, information and communication technology (ICT) is needed to build more horizontal collaborative structures, useful data must be analyzed in real time and people and/or machines must be able to make instant decisions related to social and urban life.

Cardone, G., L. Foschini, P. Bellavista, A. Corradi, C. Borcea, M. Talasila, and R. Curtmola. “Fostering Participaction in Smart Cities: a Geo-social Crowdsensing Platform.” IEEE Communications
Magazine 51, no. 6 (2013): 112–119.

  • This article examines “how and to what extent the power of collective although imprecise intelligence can be employed in smart cities.”
  • To tackle problems of managing the crowdsensing process, this article proposes a “crowdsensing platform with three main original technical aspects: an innovative geo-social model to profile users along different variables, such as time, location, social interaction, service usage, and human activities; a matching algorithm to autonomously choose people to involve in participActions and to quantify the performance of their sensing; and a new Android-based platform to collect sensing data from smart phones, automatically or with user help, and to deliver sensing/actuation tasks to users.”

Chen, Chien-Chu. “The Trend towards ‘Smart Cities.’” International Journal of Automation and Smart Technology. June 1, 2014.

  • In this study, Chen explores the ambitions, prevalence and outcomes of a variety of smart cities, organized into five categories:
    • Transportation-focused smart cities
    • Energy-focused smart cities
    • Building-focused smart cities
    • Water-resources-focused smart cities
    • Governance-focused smart cities
  • The study finds that the “Asia Pacific region accounts for the largest share of all smart city development plans worldwide, with 51% of the global total. Smart city development plans in the Asia Pacific region tend to be energy-focused smart city initiatives, aimed at easing the pressure on energy resources that will be caused by continuing rapid urbanization in the future.”
  • North America, on the other hand is generally more geared toward energy-focused smart city development plans. “In North America, there has been a major drive to introduce smart meters and smart electric power grids, integrating the electric power sector with information and communications technology (ICT) and replacing obsolete electric power infrastructure, so as to make cities’ electric power systems more reliable (which in turn can help to boost private-sector investment, stimulate the growth of the ‘green energy’ industry, and create more job opportunities).”
  • Looking to Taiwan as an example, Chen argues that, “Cities in different parts of the world face different problems and challenges when it comes to urban development, making it necessary to utilize technology applications from different fields to solve the unique problems that each individual city has to overcome; the emphasis here is on the development of customized solutions for smart city development.”

Domingo, A., B. Bellalta, M. Palacin, M. Oliver and E. Almirall. “Public Open Sensor Data: Revolutionizing Smart Cities.” Technology and Society Magazine, IEEE 32, No. 4. Winter 2013.

  • In this article, the authors explore the “enormous amount of information collected by sensor devices” that allows for “the automation of several real-time services to improve city management by using intelligent traffic-light patterns during rush hour, reducing water consumption in parks, or efficiently routing garbage collection trucks throughout the city.”
  • They argue that, “To achieve the goal of sharing and open data to the public, some technical expertise on the part of citizens will be required. A real environment – or platform – will be needed to achieve this goal.” They go on to introduce a variety of “technical challenges and considerations involved in building an Open Sensor Data platform,” including:
    • Scalability
    • Reliability
    • Low latency
    • Standardized formats
    • Standardized connectivity
  • The authors conclude that, despite incredible advancements in urban analytics and open sensing in recent years, “Today, we can only imagine the revolution in Open Data as an introduction to a real-time world mashup with temperature, humidity, CO2 emission, transport, tourism attractions, events, water and gas consumption, politics decisions, emergencies, etc., and all of this interacting with us to help improve the future decisions we make in our public and private lives.”

Harrison, C., B. Eckman, R. Hamilton, P. Hartswick, J. Kalagnanam, J. Paraszczak, and P. Williams. “Foundations for Smarter Cities.” IBM Journal of Research and Development 54, no. 4 (2010): 1–16.

  • This paper describes the information technology (IT) foundation and principles for Smarter Cities.
  • The authors introduce three foundational concepts of smarter cities: instrumented, interconnected and intelligent.
  • They also describe some of the major needs of contemporary cities, and concludes that Creating the Smarter City implies capturing and accelerating flows of information both vertically and horizontally.

Hernández-Muñoz, José M., Jesús Bernat Vercher, Luis Muñoz, José A. Galache, Mirko Presser, Luis A. Hernández Gómez, and Jan Pettersson. “Smart Cities at the Forefront of the Future Internet.” In The Future Internet, edited by John Domingue, Alex Galis, Anastasius Gavras, Theodore Zahariadis, Dave Lambert, Frances Cleary, Petros Daras, et al., 447–462. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6656. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011.

  • This paper explores how the “Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Services (IoS), can become building blocks to progress towards a unified urban-scale ICT platform transforming a Smart City into an open innovation platform.”
  • The authors examine the SmartSantander project to argue that, “the different stakeholders involved in the smart city business is so big that many non-technical constraints must be considered (users, public administrations, vendors, etc.).”
  • The authors also discuss the need for infrastructures at the, for instance, European level for realistic large-scale experimentally-driven research.

Hoon-Lee, Jung, Marguerite Gong Hancock, Mei-Chih Hu. “Towards an effective framework for building smart cities: Lessons from Seoul and San Francisco.” Technological Forecasting and Social Change. Ocotober 3, 2013.

  • In this study, the authors aim 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.”
  • They propose a conceptual framework based on case studies from Seoul and San Francisco built around the following dimensions:
    • Urban openness
    • Service innovation
    • Partnerships formation
    • Urban proactiveness
    • Smart city infrastructure integration
    • Smart city governance
  • The authors conclude with a summary of research findings featuring “8 stylized facts”:
    • Movement towards more interactive services engaging citizens;
    • Open data movement facilitates open innovation;
    • Diversifying service development: exploit or explore?
    • How to accelerate adoption: top-down public driven vs. bottom-up market driven partnerships;
    • Advanced intelligent technology supports new value-added smart city services;
    • Smart city services combined with robust incentive systems empower engagement;
    • Multiple device & network accessibility can create network effects for smart city services;
    • Centralized leadership implementing a comprehensive strategy boosts smart initiatives.

Kamel Boulos, Maged N. and Najeeb M. Al-Shorbaji. “On the Internet of Things, smart cities and the WHO Healthy Cities.” International Journal of Health Geographics 13, No. 10. 2014.

  • In this article, the authors give a “brief overview of the Internet of Things (IoT) for cities, offering examples of IoT-powered 21st century smart cities, including the experience of the Spanish city of Barcelona in implementing its own IoT-driven services to improve the quality of life of its people through measures that promote an eco-friendly, sustainable environment.”
  • The authors argue that one of the central needs for harnessing the power of the IoT and urban analytics is for cities to “involve and engage its stakeholders from a very early stage (city officials at all levels, as well as citizens), and to secure their support by raising awareness and educating them about smart city technologies, the associated benefits, and the likely challenges that will need to be overcome (such as privacy issues).”
  • They conclude that, “The Internet of Things is rapidly gaining a central place as key enabler of the smarter cities of today and the future. Such cities also stand better chances of becoming healthier cities.”

Keller, Sallie Ann, Steven E. Koonin, and Stephanie Shipp. “Big Data and City Living – What Can It Do for Us?Significance 9, no. 4 (2012): 4–7.

  • This article provides a short introduction to Big Data, its importance, and the ways in which it is transforming cities. After an overview of the social benefits of big data in an urban context, the article examines its challenges, such as privacy concerns and institutional barriers.
  • The authors recommend that new approaches to making data available for research are needed that do not violate the privacy of entities included in the datasets. They believe that balancing privacy and accessibility issues will require new government regulations and incentives.

Kitchin, Rob. “The Real-Time City? Big Data and Smart Urbanism.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, July 3, 2013.

  • This paper focuses on “how cities are being instrumented with digital devices and infrastructure that produce ‘big data’ which enable real-time analysis of city life, new modes of technocratic urban governance, and a re-imagining of cities.”
  • The authors provide “a number of projects that seek to produce a real-time analysis of the city and provides a critical reflection on the implications of big data and smart urbanism.”

Mostashari, A., F. Arnold, M. Maurer, and J. Wade. “Citizens as Sensors: The Cognitive City Paradigm.” In 2011 8th International Conference Expo on Emerging Technologies for a Smarter World (CEWIT), 1–5, 2011.

  • This paper argues that. “implementing sensor networks are a necessary but not sufficient approach to improving urban living.”
  • The authors introduce the concept of the “Cognitive City” – a city that can not only operate more efficiently due to networked architecture, but can also learn to improve its service conditions, by planning, deciding and acting on perceived conditions.
  • Based on this conceptualization of a smart city as a cognitive city, the authors propose “an architectural process approach that allows city decision-makers and service providers to integrate cognition into urban processes.”

Oliver, M., M. Palacin, A. Domingo, and V. Valls. “Sensor Information Fueling Open Data.” In Computer Software and Applications Conference Workshops (COMPSACW), 2012 IEEE 36th Annual, 116–121, 2012.

  • This paper introduces the concept of sensor networks as a key component in the smart cities framework, and shows how real-time data provided by different city network sensors enrich Open Data portals and require a new architecture to deal with massive amounts of continuously flowing information.
  • The authors’ main conclusion is that by providing a framework to build new applications and services using public static and dynamic data that promote innovation, a real-time open sensor network data platform can have several positive effects for citizens.

Perera, Charith, Arkady Zaslavsky, Peter Christen and Dimitrios Georgakopoulos. “Sensing as a service model for smart cities supported by Internet of Things.” Transactions on Emerging Telecommunications Technologies 25, Issue 1. January 2014.

  • This paper looks into the “enormous pressure towards efficient city management” that has “triggered various Smart City initiatives by both government and private sector businesses to invest in information and communication technologies to find sustainable solutions to the growing issues.”
  • The authors explore the parallel advancement of the Internet of Things (IoT), which “envisions to connect billions of sensors to the Internet and expects to use them for efficient and effective resource management in Smart Cities.”
  • The paper proposes the sensing as a service model “as a solution based on IoT infrastructure.” The sensing as a service model consists of four conceptual layers: “(i) sensors and sensor owners; (ii) sensor publishers (SPs); (iii) extended service providers (ESPs); and (iv) sensor data consumers. They go on to describe how this model would work in the areas of waste management, smart agriculture and environmental management.

Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good: Frameworks for Engagement. Edited by Julia Lane, Victoria Stodden, Stefan Bender, and Helen Nissenbaum; Cambridge University Press, 2014.

  • This book focuses on the legal, practical, and statistical approaches for maximizing the use of massive datasets while minimizing information risk.
  • “Big data” is more than a straightforward change in technology.  It poses deep challenges to our traditions of notice and consent as tools for managing privacy.  Because our new tools of data science can make it all but impossible to guarantee anonymity in the future, the authors question whether it possible to truly give informed consent, when we cannot, by definition, know what the risks are from revealing personal data either for individuals or for society as a whole.
  • Based on their experience building large data collections, authors discuss some of the best practical ways to provide access while protecting confidentiality.  What have we learned about effective engineered controls?  About effective access policies?  About designing data systems that reinforce – rather than counter – access policies?  They also explore the business, legal, and technical standards necessary for a new deal on data.
  • Since the data generating process or the data collection process is not necessarily well understood for big data streams, authors discuss what statistics can tell us about how to make greatest scientific use of this data. They also explore the shortcomings of current disclosure limitation approaches and whether we can quantify the extent of privacy loss.

Schaffers, Hans, Nicos Komninos, Marc Pallot, Brigitte Trousse, Michael Nilsson, and Alvaro Oliveira. “Smart Cities and the Future Internet: Towards Cooperation Frameworks for Open Innovation.” In The Future Internet, edited by John Domingue, Alex Galis, Anastasius Gavras, Theodore Zahariadis, Dave Lambert, Frances Cleary, Petros Daras, et al., 431–446. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6656. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011.

  • This paper “explores ‘smart cities’ as environments of open and user-driven innovation for experimenting and validating Future Internet-enabled services.”
  • The authors examine several smart city projects to illustrate the central role of users in defining smart services and the importance of participation. They argue that, “Two different layers of collaboration can be distinguished. The first layer is collaboration within the innovation process. The second layer concerns collaboration at the territorial level, driven by urban and regional development policies aiming at strengthening the urban innovation systems through creating effective conditions for sustainable innovation.”

Suciu, G., A. Vulpe, S. Halunga, O. Fratu, G. Todoran, and V. Suciu. “Smart Cities Built on Resilient Cloud Computing and Secure Internet of Things.” In 2013 19th International Conference on Control Systems and Computer Science (CSCS), 513–518, 2013.

  • This paper proposes “a new platform for using cloud computing capacities for provision and support of ubiquitous connectivity and real-time applications and services for smart cities’ needs.”
  • The authors present a “framework for data procured from highly distributed, heterogeneous, decentralized, real and virtual devices (sensors, actuators, smart devices) that can be automatically managed, analyzed and controlled by distributed cloud-based services.”

Townsend, Anthony. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. W. W. Norton & Company, 2013.

  • In this book, Townsend illustrates how “cities worldwide are deploying technology to address both the timeless challenges of government and the mounting problems posed by human settlements of previously unimaginable size and complexity.”
  • He also considers “the motivations, aspirations, and shortcomings” of the many stakeholders involved in the development of smart cities, and poses a new civics to guide these efforts.
  • He argues that smart cities are not made smart by various, soon-to-be-obsolete technologies built into its infrastructure, but how citizens use these ever-changing technologies to be “human-centered, inclusive and resilient.”

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