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.
Nature Journal: Rethink Government with AI
Government hasn’t been as quick as the business world in using data to increase responsiveness and improve services. Using artificial intelligence, governments could take the massive quantities of data generated by constituents and provide more personalized services, model more accurate forecasts, and utilize simulations to test policy outcomes. Of course, AI in government is not without challenges, and the authors discuss how to address these concerns while taking secure, fair next steps in digital governance.
After the announcement that New York has included a congestion pricing plan in its new state budget, interest in similar plans is starting to appear in other American cities. A study in Los Angeles (LA) looked at a proposed $4 rush hour fee that would apply to areas with heavy gridlock, and found that greenhouse emissions would drop by 20 percent; travel times would drop by the same amount, and incoming traffic would be reduced by 19 percent. This study was released by the Southern California Association of Governments as informational, but it could have implications for further transportation policy in LA and beyond.
Engineering and Technology: US Lawmakers Propose Bill to Tackle Bias in Tech Firms’ Algorithms
The Senate just took another step toward regulating tech companies with the proposal of the Algorithmic Accountability Act of 2019. It would require businesses with more than one million users and/or $50 million in revenue to examine their algorithms for bias, particularly against women and people of color. The Federal Trade Commission would assist in creating regulations for impact studies. Lawmakers hope this will reveal and correct the algorithmic biases that can reflect the unconscious biases of human algorithm writers and underlying data.
Public sector tech is increasingly responsible for data-driven services and can increasingly influence the relationship residents have with their city. This article discusses the ways Las Vegas has addressed things like economic development and transit using a customer-focused model. Vegas is in interesting example of how government can pivot resources, engage in public-private partnerships, and proactively address resident concerns in a large and fast-paced urban environment.
Ed Kelly, Texas’s State Data Coordinator, and Charles Purma, Austin’s IT Manager, give concrete examples for state and local governments that are looking to engage their communities using government data. They emphasize the importance of demonstrating value, engaging with skeptical citizens, and having citywide data standards with examples from the city and state levels.