By Data-Smart City Solutions • February 16, 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 outlined considerations for effective and low-cost outcome-driven policy, drawing on insights from the White House and ideas42’s Summit for State and Local Government. Outcome-driven policies must use metrics that reflect the priorities of local communities and that encourage service to those in greatest need, rather than those easiest to serve. Moreover, by leveraging existing datasets and pursuing Pay for Success contracts—where governments agree to pay for a program only when the service delivery providers achieve an agreed-upon result—local governments may avoid the financial risks associated with data collection and service delivery overhauls.

Also on Data-Smart, Wyatt Cmar wrote about recent trends in transit-rideshare collaborations in cities. Cities have pursued a number of models in rideshare collaboration, including integrating transit and rideshare apps, subsidizing rides, and integrating paratransit and rideshare. Governments hope that these interventions will save money and help address late-night service interruptions, commuter parking shortages, and other issues.

Also on the topic of rideshare, Mobility Lab discussed cities’ efforts to update procurement processes to facilitate partnerships with rideshare companies. The process for government contracting with technology companies is too complex and outdated, discouraging smaller companies from investing in bids and complicating partnerships with rideshare companies, which normally move at a rapid clip. In addition to speeding up the procurement process, if cities see themselves as digital platforms—brokers of mobility information and catalysts of data—they may promote a more sustainable transportation system.

Next City profiled Kansas City, MO’s smart streetcar system, which collects data via a body of sensors, provides public WiFi over a number of downtown blocks, and includes kiosks along the route broadcasting information about transportation and city services. The city shared the first compilation of data from its smart streetcar system in the form of an open data portal where residents can view data on parking, traffic flows, and pedestrian hubs. While useful, this data has raised privacy concerns, leading Kansas City to create a set of privacy principles promising to use the data in a “manner that is consistent with the context in which it was collected.”

Next City also discussed a two-year analysis from the de Beaumont Foundation’s CityHealth project that evaluated the 40 largest U.S. cities based on their efforts to improve the health and well-being of citizens. The study examined how cities fare across nine policies including paid sick days, universal and high-quality pre-K, affordable housing and access to health food, and then assigned bronze, silver, or gold medals or no medal at all. The five gold medal recipients were New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and Washington, D.C.

Route Fifty highlighted efforts to use mapping to identify valuable green infrastructure—managed natural assets like wildlife habitats and parks that improve quality of life—in order to encourage conservation and rehabilitation. Esri has released a number of free, open-source apps that allow governments to visualize natural assets. For example, a map of large landscape cores allows users to identify every resource that is at least 100 acres in size and 100 meters in width and to filter by attributes like amount of surface water and wetlands.  

Deloitte released its eighth annual Technology Trends report, analyzing technology developments likely to influence the public and private sectors in the next 18-24 months. Predictions include increased analysis of unstructured data or dark analytics, the use of machine intelligence to automate tasks and embed complex analytics into interactions, and adoption of Blockchain to protect sensitive information.

GovTech wrote about Black and Veatch’s 2017 Strategic Directions: Smart City/Smart Utility Report, which revealed that while many cities are ready and willing to embark on smart cities initiatives, only 16 percent could self-fund such an effort. Based on interviews with over 700 civic leaders, the report found that while more than half the respondents say that efficiency and cost reductions are important reasons to pursue smart city initiatives, three-quarters say they do not do them because of lack of funds. Better understanding the cost-effectiveness of smart city projects and forging broad partnerships will be critical for cities to galvanize smart city initiatives.

Inverse reported that all publicly available data was removed from the White House’s open data site Much of the information is archived on the Obama Administration’s website, but the White House’s data catalog is currently empty, displaying the message “Check back soon for new data.”