By Data-Smart City Solutions • December 8, 2017

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.

Here on Data-Smart, Robert Burack outlined a process for cities interested in using human-centered approaches to solve problems and discussed Pittsburgh’s successes with human-centered design. Human-centered design involves four phases: understanding the context of problems via engagement with residents, defining the problem based on this engagement, prototyping solutions, then launching and iterating on solutions. Burack will host a webinar on December 12 from 12pm-1pm that goes more deeply into the ways cities are implementing human-centered design. Register here.

Also on Data-Smart, Erica Pincus examined the ways that organizations on the local, state, and global level are using data to address hunger and food insecurity. For example, a data visualization effort in Baltimore has sought to enhance understanding of the availability of affordable, healthy food in the city, informing efforts to expand grocery retail efforts. Efforts to improve data sharing on the state and global level have also improved understanding of those in need and have spread practices to mitigate food insecurity.

According the Next City, the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency (MTA) has decided to expand demand-based parking to every meter and city-owned lot and garage in the city. With this system, meter rates go up or down based on demand, which encourages faster turnover on overly crowded (more expensive) blocks and increased use of underused parking (where the fee is cheaper). San Francisco is the first in the U.S. to implement such a program citywide.

Next City also profiled a law passed by the New York City Council that requires the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) to create an early warning system for potential displacement of rent-stabilized tenants. The “Speculation Watch List,” will name buildings bought at prices that indicate a speculative purchase and potentially signal future harassment and displacement of current rent-stabilized tenants.

Also on the topic of development in New York City, the New York City Department of City Planning launched the zoning & land use map (ZoLa), ZoLa allows users to find the zoning for their property, discover new proposals for their neighborhood, and learn where city planning initiatives are happening throughout the city.

For Map Monday, Jess Weaver profiled the Evictions by Demography 2016 map, which examines where evictions are most prevalent throughout San Francisco’s neighborhoods and who is most affected. Using data from the San Francisco Rent Board, Census data, and median rent estimates from Zillow, the map displays eviction rates per 10,000 households by neighborhood, demographic group, and median rent. Using this visualization, policymakers can tailor interventions to specific parts of the city and demographic groups. 

The Urban Institute launched an interactive map titled Debt in America, which displays the geography of debt in the United States at the national, state, and county levels. Using data derived from a random sample of de-identified, consumer-level records from a major credit bureau, as well as estimates from the American Community Survey, the visualization provides information on median debt by geographic area and demographic group.  

The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is ending a program that used computer data mining to identify children at risk for serious injury or death.  In order to prioritize city interventions, the program mined DCFS files and assigned a score of 1 to 100 to children who were the subject of an abuse allegation to the agency hotline. However, DCFS found that while thousands of children were assigned extremely high risk scores, high-profile child deaths kept cropping up with little warning from the predictive analytics software, despite warning signs like frequent previous DCFS investigations. Read more at the Chicago Tribune.

The cities of London and Bengalaru have launched an international air quality partnership network, made up of 20 cities from around the world. As a part of this effort, London will trial new high-tech air quality sensor technology to boost capital’s fixed air pollution monitoring systems from over 100 to up to 1,000 locations

Bloomberg reported that the Bank of Thailand is mining data from social media and online stores to better understand its labor and property markets. While official measures of unemployment in the country are extremely low—hovering just above 1 percent—this is due in part to the country’s informal sector, which fails to contribute to economic growth. The bank hopes to use new sources of data to understand issues like resident debt and international trade in order to inform economic and financial policy.