This TED Talk is a good reminder why big data, as David Brooks recently put it, is “good at some things and not at others.” In this talk, Edi Rama, mayor of Tirana, Albania, discusses how residents started to take responsibility for their city after he initiated beautification projects, and how he attributes decreases in corruption, littering, and tax deficiency to this new-found city pride. I don’t agree with everything he says, and it’s a long video, but I think that his point about civic pride is a good example of something data doesn’t always do well. It reminds me of Mayor Daley’s efforts to create beautiful public spaces (see here and here), such as Millennium Park, which is often hailed as a major success. A mayor looking only to hard data might not have pursued those projects.
Google released a new promo video for its exciting Glass project, which is essentially augmented-reality glasses. The video focuses on the chat and image-capture features, but there is a shot near the middle of a person diving through a city and getting directions, and another shot near the end of the glasses providing flight information. I see three top uses for this technology in city life: (1) transit info, (2) driving directions, (3) information about nearby attractions and restaurants. Could we also see people walking around video-chatting as they would with a cellphone? Only time will tell.
This video is from March 2011. It features Carlo Ratti from the MIT SENSEable City Lab discussing how they track real-time data from cities, particularly cellphone data. I like the video because it moves beyond visualizations to some useful analysis. It also covers some of their cool projects, such as trash_track. The lab is also doing some other great stuff, I encourage you to check it out. Here’s an article covering some of their older projects. One of their latest projects, United Cities of America, tracks how far commuters travel in US cities, again using cellphone data. The results are surprising and have real implications on how we run our cities. Continue reading
Here’s an inspiring video that showcases a teacher in Detroit who is coaching low-income kids from Malcolm X Acadamy competing in a regional Future City competition for city planning. They win the rookie prize. I think that teaching kids this form of civic engagement is vital to our future.
Here is Rachel Sterne, NYC’s Chief Digital Officer, discussing a four-point plan for advancing technology in NYC. The four points—which are useful for any city government—are as follows:
- Access to technology, e.g., expanding the access to wireless Internet
- Open government, e.g., sharing more information with developers
- Engagement, e.g., using more social media, specifically Twitter, Youtube, and Tumblr
- Industry, e.g., welcoming start-ups and engaging developers
Today’s Wednesday Video is a promotion video done by Oregon about their open-data website for the 2011 National Association of State Chief Information Officers Technology Innovation Awards. I think that it rightly celebrates the advances they’ve made, highlighting the praise it’s received from Oregon residents and outside groups (particularly transparency advocates). It also highlights many of the popular datasets available. You can check out other Innovation Award videos through Youtube.
Check out these videos featuring Chris Vein, who promotes opening up government data to encourage private-sector innovation (including app development)—with the goal of increasing government efficiency. The second video—a lengthy interview—is quite useful. Vein recently moved from San Francisco government to being the Deputy U.S. Chief Technology Officer for Government Innovation at the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. Looking forward to seeing what he can accomplish.
Videos after the jump: