Westminster, Colorado, has become a model for its integration of water data into the city planning process. Stu Feinglas, Westminster’s former senior water-resources analyst, used the city’s zoning plan to make a rough estimate of how much water different types of buildings would use. Then the city built GIS software that overlays water resources and infrastructure over a comprehensive plan—making it easy to see how much water different types of buildings would use. This model helps planners guide developers to smarter construction, even previewing what their water rates and tap fees might be.
New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced the launch of a new data dashboard designed to help state agencies share opioid-related information. The Integrated Drug Awareness Dashboard will at first be used by officials from law enforcement and public safety agencies to exchange and analyze opioid-related data, with eventual plans to expand access to public health agencies. The dashboard includes data on opioid-related arrests, naloxone administrations, drug overdoses, and health care information. By combining datasets and identifying opioid “hot spots,” law enforcement can work with health care organizations to more effectively allocate resources and improve enforcement.
The Assessor’s Office in Cook County, Illinois, which estimates the value of property within a jurisdiction that includes Chicago, has released its residential assessment code and models. This brings unprecedented transparency to a process that determines how much residents must pay in property taxes. Previously, the only way to see this information before was via a Freedom of Information Act request or court order. Cook County’s chief data officer, Rob Ross, explained that transparency is important to the assessor’s office work and can prevent properties from being overtaxed, which can add up year after year.
CONSTRUCTION DRIVE: CHICAGO UNVEILS ONLINE TOOL DISPLAYING CONSTRUCTION, EVENTS
The Chicago Department of Transportation launched a new online tool last week, ChiStreetWork, to inform residents about active construction and road work projects or traffic impediments on their city streets. The online tool will utilize a Google Maps platform to show information about street construction projects or traffic delays using data from the city’s dotMaps system which tracks construction activity. Additionally, users will be able to search by neighborhood, intersection or street address and view information from one month prior up to one year into the future.
The increase of DNA data through tests like 23andme has legal experts increasingly concerned that the US is not effectively protecting consumers from the many privacy risks that have emerged recently. The issue stems from the lack of a standard law in genomics—there are 50 different states with multiple federal agencies involved, leading to a patchwork of laws that in practice means genetic anonymity is almost never guaranteed. A collection of law professors, lawyers, doctors, and others in the DNA testing world have spent the last three years assembling a public database of every federal and state law, regulation, official guidance, and professional standard that currently regulate the field of genomics. The project, called LawSeq, is assessing how policymakers should think about a DNA data-rich future.
In late 2017, the Washington County Sheriff’s Office became the first law enforcement agency in the country to use Amazon’s artificial-intelligence tool Rekognition, transforming the county into a testing ground for experimental police surveillance techniques. As a result, the police department’s investigative abilities were multiplied with more than 1,000 face recognition searches logged in 2018. However, the new technology caused concern over the unregulated growth of policing by algorithm as Rekognition’s accuracy is under dispute. Privacy and civil rights experts are concerned that the technology could lead to wrongful arrests of innocent people who bear similarities to a suspect’s image.