By Data-Smart City Solutions • June 30, 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, Sean Thornton discussed the work of City Digital, the newest division of Chicago’s UI Labs, an innovation accelerator on Goose Island. City Digital applies the Labs’ collaborative model to urban problems, addressing urban issues related to water, infrastructure, energy, and transportation through smart city technologies. City Digital’s most defining role is as a convener, managing stakeholders in government, the corporate world, and academia to see how each can best address a given problem.

Wired examined the perhaps unnerving potential for social networks to draw upon data from user posts in order to diagnose disease. If a social network released a set of de-identified data, such as members’ location, travel, likes and dislikes, post frequency, sentiment, browsing, and search habits, a researcher could develop an algorithm that predicts mental and emotional states for individual users. However, social media sites must be careful to maintain user privacy, for example by providing more transparency around how they intend to analyze user data than a traditional user agreement offers. 

On the topic of sharing personal information, a study called “The Human Project” has asked for 10,000 volunteers in New York to provide a trove of personal information, from cellphone locations and credit-card swipes to blood samples and life-changing events over 20 years. The $15 million dollar project hopes to use this data to generate insights on health, aging, education and many other aspects of human life. Read more at CBS News.

Eric Bosco continued our Becoming a Leading CDO series with a profile of Los Angeles’ chief data officer Lilian Coral. Coral has a background in public policy, which has helped her spot and fill technology gaps throughout her career. Perhaps her most notable work in Los Angeles has been implementing GeoHub, a map-based data portal that connects citywide location data and brings to life data previously stuck in spreadsheets.

Michael Bloomberg announced a $200 million philanthropic program called the American Cities Initiative that will support innovative policies at the city level and give mayors a stronger presence in national politics. The program is intended to shore up the global influence of the United States despite turmoil in Washington, D.C. Bloomberg said his city-focused initiative would serve in part as an extension of his advocacy for national policies that address climate change, gun violence, public health and immigration. Read more at the New York Times. 

ProPublica created a map that shows ZIP codes where rents could suddenly jump for rent-stabilized apartments in New York City. In 2003, New York lawmakers passed a law allowing landlords to raise rents by more than the annual limits if they registered a high rent, but charged tenants a lower, “preferential” rate. However, preferential rents are not regulated and can be raised up to the registered rate upon lease renewal. As a result, rents in a number of New York neighborhoods—particularly in the Bronx—are likely to rise dramatically in the near future.

Open government data visualization engine Data USA has also released a number of new data maps, according to Route Fifty.  The site was relaunched by Deloitte in partnership with the MIT Media Lab and Cambridge, Massachusetts-based web designer Datawheel in 2017 to tell stories about the gender wage gap, immigration, race, poverty, and other issues. A new shopping cart too allows users to combine up to five datasets into charts or maps to produce cross-sectional insights.

We also published a report from What Works Cities (WWC) that provides updates on their work in 80 cities across the country. What Works Cities has helped cities use data and evidence to inform their actions and improve outcomes by connecting them with peer cities, experts, and resources to accelerate the pace of progress.

Fast Co Design profiled a machine learning-powered mapping tool created by satellite mapping company DigitalGlobe and San Francisco design studio Stamen Design that that uses income data and satellite imagery to predict average income of city blocks. Called Penny, the model analyzes shapes, colors, and lines in satellite images and corresponding Census data to look for patterns between different urban features and income levels. Users can point the tool at any neighborhood, and Penny can guess the income level.