By Data-Smart City Solutions • June 23, 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, Chris Bousquet kicked off our new series From Research to Results, which discusses academic articles that contain practical insights for policymakers. The first installation highlighted a paper called "Urban Resilience and Planning Support Systems: The Need for Sentience," which calls for the creation of sentient planning support systems (PSSs) to promote urban resilience. According to the authors, these systems should have more awareness of application context and user needs, learn and adapt based on user behavior, and provide accessible and interactive platforms.

Also on Data-Smart, San Francisco Data Fellow Blake Valenta profiled the city’s Adopt a Drain application, which enables residents to find their closest storm drain, claim it, and agree to clear any debris in advance of storms. The app taps into San Francisco’s pool of civic-minded residents in an effort to mitigate flooding after heavy rains. The tool’s development process underscored a number of important considerations for creating municipal applications with civic tech volunteers, including the need for communication and trust, a willingness to meet halfway, and a proactive plan for sustainability. 

The Behavioral Insights Team (BIT) announced Test+Build, a new tool that helps governments run their own randomized control trials. The product is targeted towards governments interested in improving tax collection and guides users through the four stages of BIT’s TEST methodology—Target, Explore, Solution, and Trial. Test+Build includes guides, case studies and videos developed by the BIT team that relate to compliance and enforcement, as well as offering support from BIT researchers.

Route Fifty covered the 2017 Amazon Web Services (AWS) City on a Cloud Innovation Challenge, which granted Iowa City, IA the Dream Big award for its use of cloud-hosted platform Lattice to identify “high utilizers” of homeless services and keep them out of jail or the hospital. The city will receive $25,000 in AWS promotional credits to further its data-driven justice initiative, and was one of 18 other AWS customer cities to win an award.

We also published an edition of Data-Smart News on public health, collecting stories from the past year on cities’ efforts to implement data-driven health campaigns. Initiatives include prescription drug monitoring programs to combat opioid abuse, maps of food deserts, predictive analyses of Zika risk, and many others.

New York data mining startup Enigma is launching a redesigned site that makes open data more useable, according to Co.Design. Enigma maintains the broadest collection of public data that is open and searchable by everyone via an online platform called Public that hosts more than 100,000 datasets. The site’s redesign will offer more sophisticated ways of visualizing, analyzing, and understanding the data.

GovTech offered seven suggestions for governments to securely move their data to the cloud. While cloud computing has grown rapidly in the last few years, many remain hesitant to move their data to the cloud for fear of creating vulnerabilities. Suggestions for secure transfer to the cloud include enforcing a data life cycle policy, considering various cloud options, and applying end-to-end encryption.

Workforce Data Quality Campaign issued a brief highlighting the State of Illinois’ successes in creating a data system that cuts across departments and therefore is able to inform policy in a variety of areas. The study encourages data leaders to identify their data needs, determine whether any can be met by existing systems, collaborate when possible, and advocate for further rationalizing systems.