By Data-Smart City Solutions • July 21, 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, we updated our catalog of civic data use cases, a list of questions that cities have asked and answered with data. The update included suggestions for predicting and preventing gentrification, a model for increasing the number of open parking spaces while reducing congestion, and an analysis of those buildings in which house fires are likely to happen.

Also on Data-Smart, guest author Brett Goldstein detailed recommendations for cybersecurity initiatives. The approach he suggests is “When you hear hoofs, think horse, not zebra,” meaning that cities should focus on common-sense strategies that combat typical cyberattacks, rather than investing in expensive systems for specific use cases. Agencies should consider four basic cyber hygiene steps: stay current on patching and make it a departmental/agency priority, properly permission systems with the minimum permissions necessary, always use SSL for web traffic, and bring on a cybersecurity resource who understands technology.

New York City published an update on the city’s progress towards making all city data open and accessible. More than 90 city agencies have attempted to become more transparent by publishing new datasets, and the city has made efforts to put data in the hands of New Yorkers, including land use advocates, small businesses, and community boards. New York City requests that residents respond to this report by requesting a dataset for release or leaving a comment on the city’s open data portal.

Alphr profiled Barcelona’s experiment with citizen-led Internet of Things (IoT) and sharing economy pilots, which allows residents to determine the problems to be addressed with smart city technologies and control the data produced by such initiatives. The city hopes that such experiments will make the best of local data without any need for monolithic online platforms or vendors. This way, citizens get to determine what data they donate and on what terms.  

Andrew Guthrie Ferguson, law professor at the University of District Columbia, discussed the potential for more transparent predictive policing algorithms to reduce litigation risk. Predictive Policing company CivicScape recently released its predictive algorithm online, inviting users to view and even comment upon their product. According to Guthrie, this move reduces the opportunity for litigation, as attorneys will no longer be able to mark the technology as inherently untrustworthy due to its secrecy. Read more at the Huffington Post.

StateScoop highlighted Boston’s Imagine Boston 2030 strategy for long-term growth as a paradigm of data-driven planning. The plan draws on input from more than 15,000 residents, provides a framework to enhance individual neighborhoods, and sets citywide trajectories for issues like homeless assistance, transportation, education and economic development. The city will track these goals using up-to-date analytics on operations and performance metrics aligning with the city’s stated goals.

Carto discussed a number of location-based bus improvements that could increase the efficiency of the New York City’s bus system and thereby transform the city’s ailing transit system. A consortium of organizations called Bus Turnaround made a number of recommendations to the city based on analysis of bus arrival times from the MTA’s location app, real-time data from the General Transit Feed Specification, and ridership data. Bus Turnaround then proposed optimized bus routes, an expedited boarding process, and increased uptake of existing technologies.  

Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser launched The Lab @ DC, a first-of-its-kind in-house data science team in the DC Government, funded by a $3.2 million grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation. The Lab will use data and evidence to design city policies, conduct evaluations of current programs, and collaborate with experts and stakeholders across agencies, universities, and community groups.