By Data-Smart City Solutions • May 18, 2018

Each week we will bring you a summary of what happened this week on our site, on Twitter, and in the wider world of civic data. Suggest stories on Twitter with #ThisWeekInData.

Governing released the newest episode of its podcast “Go Public,” titled “Data Is Improving Government Services, But at What Cost?” Speakers J.B. Wogan and Zach Patton discussed both the promise and the privacy pitfalls of data-driven governance. The episode was recorded during the Summit on Government Performance and Innovation, hosted by Living Cities and Governing.


Stateline discussed the State of Florida’s plan to reduce pedestrian deaths, which rose dramatically from 2009 to 2016. Its department of transportation is using digital mapping to track construction sites, land-use patterns, and lighting, all of which relate to pedestrian safety. Coupled with roadway re-engineering, officials will use these tools to identify opportunities to provide safer conditions for pedestrians across the state.


Health Policy and Technology published a study outlining the ways in which smart cities can achieve better health outcomes through powerful healthcare data analytics. They identify paths toward making vast stores of useful data available to clinicians and other stakeholders while maintaining critical ethical considerations around patient privacy.


Here on Data-Smart, Sean Thornton outlined the key attributes of a compelling story about data. Thornton suggests that good data stories are about people and real-world problems, highlight meaningful impacts of data, and remind readers about “what’s in it for [them].” It also helps to write about a personal experience with data, making the story more intimate.


Crain’s New York Business discussed the release of the City Health Dashboard, developed by researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center and the Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service at NYU. The Dashboard provides detailed data on social trends like poverty and absenteeism, health outcomes like opioid and disease-related death rates, and behavioral patterns like binge drinking and exercise for 500 U.S. cities, some of which have never published such complete data. This information allows cities to compare themselves to broader average on a variety of factors, identifying both areas of success and areas for improvement.


Brookings announced the opening of Sourcelist, a database of diverse technology policy experts. Sourcelist aims to reduce the disparity in public representation within the technology policy community by creating an easily navigable resource of experts organized by background and specialty. Its first dataset is dedicated to bringing attention to the work of non-males in the field.


Tulsa World reported that the city of Tulsa was chosen as one of three winners of the Cities of Service Engaged Cities award. Cities of Service, founded by Michael Bloomberg, presents this award to cities that have established innovative data-driven programs to benefit their citizens. Tulsa received recognition for its Urban Data Pioneers program, an initiative to bring public officials and citizens together to craft analytics-based solutions. For instance, after using data to establish a strong relationship between high school graduation and future income, Tulsa implemented free transit for students to reach school. With its prize money, Tulsa plans to launch a Civic Innovation Fellowship and data training programs.


Statescoop examined 21 smart communities to watch in 2018, underscoring jurisdictions around the world that have pioneered innovative initiatives to improve services. Among the 21 communities recognized in the report are Austin, which has deployed Paperless government services, discreet sidewalk smart sensors and a smart mobility roadmap; the State of Ohio, which has sought to corral disparate projects across cities into a common framework intended to ensure interoperability and eliminate duplication of efforts; and Union Point, a community being built outside Boston that will include infrastructure for electric vehicles, rooftop solar, smart buildings and Internet of Things devices from the start.


NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s GovLab reported the launch of its Data Stewards website, which aims to develop successful leadership for responsible data management. To reduce risk and improve scalability and sustainability of data collaboratives, the Data Stewards program will investigate proper situations for data sharing, engage an active cross-sector community of data leaders, and develop time-efficient and cost-efficient tools and frameworks.


The Open Data Institute created an Open Standards for Data Guidebook. The Guidebook contains valuable lessons for policymakers about what open standards for data are as well as when and how to implement them to maximize impact.


Next City examined the City of Boston’s new 3D smart model, which provides the public with an interactive view of 129,000 buildings across the entire city. The digital tool will not only aid the agency in its internal planning and increase transparency in the development approval process, but also allow ordinary residents to inform themselves on existing land use, building heights, shadow effects and flooding projections. By selecting various layers, users can alter the map to show zoning districts, trees, buildings by land use, transit lines, and points of interest such as schools, health centers and supermarkets.


Civicist highlighted some of the issues that make rigorous impact measurement research efforts difficult to conduct. Problems include the use of different metrics across organizations, the desire for different impacts across different constituencies, a lack of evaluation relative to investment, and the difficulty of showing causality in social environments.