By Data-Smart City Solutions • September 7, 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.

Navigating Chicago’s ‘Labyrinth’ of Lower Roads Just Got Easier — Route Fifty

Chicago’s multi-level streets present significant challenges to the GPS apps used by many drivers, but through a new public-private partnership between Chicago and Waze Beacons, 400 Waze beacons have been installed along five miles of underground roads where GPS blackouts are frequent. The beacons provide Bluetooth connectivity, and pinpoint a vehicle’s position relative to their location. The beacons went live on Labor Day, and are expected to reduce traffic collisions underground. 

Performance Management — Syracuse Innovation Team

Earlier this week, Syracuse’s Innovation Team announced the launch of the city’s new Performance Management Program, which allows for interdepartmental organization around shared goals and objectives. Progress toward these goals can be tracked online at dashboards.syrgov.net.

Google Unveils Search Engine for Open Data — Nature

Google has launched a new service aimed at “scientists, data journalists, data geeks, or anyone else” interested in locating online open data.  The service is called Dataset Search, and it locates open-data repositories maintained by government agencies, research institutions, and others around the world.

Though these datasets were always publicly available, researchers have often relied on word of mouth to learn of their existence, which is particularly a hurdle for those interested in cross-departmental research.

In the future, Dataset Search might also be integrated with Google Scholar, so that search results on studies are linked with relevant datasets.

The UK’s Gender Pay Gap Open Data Law Has Flaws, But Is A Positive Step Forward — Center for Data Innovation

Since the United Kingdom enacted a regulation requiring companies to report information about their gender pay gap, nearly 11,000 companies have filed reports detailing the difference between the mean and median hourly pay for men and women, as wells as the difference in bonuses earned by each.

Initial data are troubling — median pay for men is roughly 12 percent high than for women on average, and over 1,000 firms had a media pay gap greater than 30 percent — but detractors claim that the data is misleading, for it does not adjust figures for hours worked, and does not allow for direct comparisons between the wages of men and women working the same jobs.

Center for Data Innovation’s Michael Mclaughlin believes that the regulation is a step in the right direction regardless .

“While the UK’s law is not perfect, the data it has produced has sparked an important conversation should inspire other countries to pursue similar legislation,” says McLaughlin.

The Air up There: Air Quality Sensors Inhale Slews of Data — Smart Cities Dive

Cities including Chicago, Seattle, and Portland, OR have launched air quality sensor pilot programs to measure pollution at hyperlocal levels and allow for better-informed public policy. For example, existing units in Chicago’s Array of Things (AoT), which are installed on street lamps and bus shelters, measure gases and particulate matter of different sizes, and researchers hope to use the data to figure out where pollution is at its worst.

“It’s not enough to say ‘everyone on the South Side of Chicago is exposed to this much PM2.5.’” said Charlie Catlett, a senior computer scientist at Argonne National Laboratory. “What we’d rather say is ‘everyone in this neighborhood, or on this block is exposed.’ The variation across a city is huge with respect to air quality.”

Report: Most State Websites Need Work — GovTech

A report conducted by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation found that, out of 400 state government websites, nearly all suffered from problems with page-load speed, mobile friendliness, security, and accessibility. Out of all of them, only one website met all four criteria set by the Foundation: Virginia’s site for hunting and fishing licenses.

Despite these findings, ITIF’s Vice President Daniel Castro is encouraged made by some states’ efforts to improve the usability of their websites, citing Georgia as an example.

The full report can be found here.

What to Include in a National Framework for Self-Driving Vehicles — Route Fifty

At a hearing on Capitol Hill earlier this week, state and local transportation officials claimed that the US needed a national framework for the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles. Such a framework would help to untangle the jumble of rules and standards set by states and prevent rural areas from being left behind, advocates said. In addition, some stressed the importance of facilitating vehicle data sharing, particularly from crashes and near misses.

“Sharing of the data is going to be critical in the future,” said Contra Costa Transportation Authority Executive Director Randell Iwasaki.