By Data-Smart City Solutions • November 8, 2019

NEXT CITY: OPEN DATA SHINES A LIGHT ON CITIES’ TOP CHALLENGES

“Smart” 311 systems are now allowing citizens to request city services online by using mobile apps, resulting in an archive of data detailing the interactions between a city government and its residents.Data collected through 311 requests can pinpoint major moments of friction for residents and help city government decide on where to focus its resources for infrastructure improvement. This article further details how 311 data can be analyzed and utilized for multiple purposes. 

STATE SCOOP: ENGAGING COMMUNITY IS KEY FOR SMART-CITY DEVELOPMENT, OFFICIALS SAY

At the Smart Cities Connect Expo in National Harbor, Maryland, Jordan Davis, the director of Smart Columbus, stated that early community outreach is crucial to developing trust between city governments and citizens who may be unfamiliar with new technologies in their cities. Officials acknowledged that this takes time and effort, but without it residents could assume that government officials aren’t being fully transparent about what the technology does or what the benefit could be to residents, creating distrust. 

NEXT CITY: BOSTON’S ‘CONCERT FOR ONE’ BRINGS MUSIC TO THE COMMUNITY, ONE LISTENER AT A TIME

In the fall, a bright yellow shipping container labelled “Concert for One” was stationed at various public spaces around Boston and Cambridge offering a unique, intimate musical experience—a performance with one listener and one musician for one minute. The performances are part of the nonprofit Celebrity Series of Boston’s annual outdoor public performance series that aims to reach new audiences and improve placemaking. The series intentionally took place over a multi-day event to increase local engagement and word of mouth.

NEXT CITY: MAKING SACRAMENTO THE “FARM-TO-EVERY-FORK” CAPITAL

The city of Sacramento is calling for proposals to revitalize an abandoned tree nursery so residents can grow their own food and learn skills related to farming. Several programs in the city (G.O.O.D.: Growing Our Own Destination, the Center for Land-based Learning, and the Alchemist Community Development Corporation) work to educate residents on gardening and eating healthy, provide land access and lessons on sustainable agriculture, and run programs to boost residents’ buying power at farmers markets. This article delves deeper into how Sacramento is transforming into a “farm-to-every-fork” city. 

GCN: COLORADO LAUNCHES ITS OWN DIGITAL SERVICE

Colorado announced its own statewide digital service, modeled after the United States Digital Service, which gives private-sector IT professionals an opportunity to work on some of the state’s most challenging technical issues. The program, Colorado Digital Services, will recruit technologists from diverse backgrounds into term-limited "tours of civic service" in which they’ll utilize development, security practices, and user-centered design to improve state services.

SMART CITIES WORLD: NYC CONTINUES DRIVE TO HELP THE PUBLIC ADOPT BETTER DATA PRIVACY PRACTICES

New York City hosted its second annual Library Privacy Week, a series of free and open workshops to help residents adopt better data privacy practices. The workshops will provide hands-on instruction on topics such as how to use digital privacy tools and understand facial recognition technology. Additionally, the workshops will advise on best practices for completing NYC’s 2020 Census. Some of the workshops will also be available in Spanish.

CITYLAB: HOW HELSINKI BUILT ‘BOOK HEAVEN’

The opening of the new central library in Helsinki, which cost €98 million, marked the centenary anniversary of Finnish independence and has been celebrated internationally as a critical building of social infrastructure. The goal of the building is to serve as a ‘citizenship factory,’ with spaces allotted for meetings, free events, informal gatherings, as well as language classes for migrants and maker spaces. The library shares a public square with the Finnish Parliament House and serves as an extension of the public space it shares.