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.
Stephen Goldsmith wrote about St. Paul’s approach to rethinking and improving its snow removal process. St. Paul partnered with a nonprofit consulting firm to streamline its organizational structure and improve its services. They implemented a team-based model for change, combining institutional knowledge with external perspective to develop a smart plan for change; city staffers were integral to every part of the process and helped ensure changes would be a good fit for the department. The partnership highlights the importance of working with existing staff to effect change and the need for parallel internal culture shifts when encouraging innovation.
New York City announced the second phase of its LinkNYC rollout, which will debut android-based tablets for public use. The first “links” launched last month and began providing free WiFi throughout the city. Now, passersby will be able to use the integrated tablets to make phone calls, find directions, or surf the web.
Boston is hiring its first chief data officer. The CDO will be in charge of the Citywide Analytics Team, which currently works across city departments to build a more effective government through data analytics and visualizations. The team was created in 2015 and has led over a dozen projects, including developing a performance management tool called CityScore and integrating the city’s traffic management with Waze.
Govtech examined Los Angeles’s new open data library, GeoHub. GeoHub stores more than 500 different types of geographic data from the city, and makes it open and accessible to anyone interested. The city hopes that the tool will aid researchers, developers, and other governments, in addition to facilitating data sharing within the city government.
We wrote about Barcelona’s growing Internet of Things integration. Smart City Barcelona, a team created in 2011 by the incoming mayor, was tasked with integrating the existing fiber optic cable network and finding new opportunities to enhance city life through technology. In the past five years, the city has debuted new projects in lighting, transportation, WiFi, and park management, all of which are connected to make a “network of networks.” The improvements have saved Barcelona money, made the city more energy efficient, and improved the quality of life for residents.
CityLab profiled Placemeter, a New York based startup using data to create a real-time map of pedestrians and cyclists in Union Square. Placemeter gathers movement data through sensors and a video feed, and then uses algorithms to process the data and display it on a map. They suggest their real-time data could be useful to a number of city agencies, such as transportation departments who could use the traffic fluctuation patterns to better optimize transit schedules.
Steve Koonin, the Director of the Center for Urban Science and Progress, wrote about urban science, the emerging field focused on extracting meaningful analysis from the massive amounts of city data currently collected. Big data can be an invaluable tool in helping government officials understand how their agencies are performing and find better solutions to problems, but the amount of data can also be overwhelming. Koonin suggests that the same concepts used by physicists or other scientists to analyze their data could be helpful in urban science, too.