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Open Cities, Smart Cities

The most innovative contemporary cities are becoming “smart” and “open” through the increasing  availability and application of “big data” in order to make them more inclusive and efficient. The “Big data”, or large pools of information that comprise raw data, come from a variety of sources, including government, NGO’s, and even person-to-person social media sources such as Yelp, Facebook and twitter. This week, we will look at some of the possibilities and apprehensions of this approach to city planning.

Published indataUrbanization


  1. Erin

    There is a boom in the development of cities worldwide. Along with this rapid growth is a concern for urban issues, such as poverty and disunity amongst cities. “A Planet of Civic Laboratories: The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion” provides data, solutions and forecasts for urban areas. According to the article, a major solution for urban poverty is “Pro-poor Interfaces.” The underlaying issue of poverty is the lack of accessibility to knowledge. The article proposes “improving skills and literacy to make effective use of access,” in combination with public computing centers and face-to-face education. A critical step towards a unified city is through the use of technology, most notably social media. The article calls this “Crowdsourced Public Services,” which aims “to build data-rich frameworks that connect government with loosely coordinated citizen collectives.” This can be as simple as creating a website or app that allows citizens to report information, from public service requests to recruiting volunteers for future civic projects. “A Planet of Civic Laboratories: The Future of Cities, Information, and Inclusion” uses technology and date sets to promote the development of stronger cities, environmentally, communally and economically.

  2. Taylor Couty

    Group Two
    This week, our group read “City Data: Big, Open and Linked” by Mark S. Fox.
    The article begins by defining Open Data as a movement, in which the belief is that if data is made public, there will be “more eyes on the data,” making it so there is a better probability that inefficiencies will be spotted, solutions will be suggested by communities, and the communities can come together to put the solutions in effect.
    Fox uses New York City as an example that has taken the concept of open data further and implemented it more in its city. They make their data available to the public, as well as dynamic. The data provided for the public is constantly being updated. They also make sure their data is usable and accessible by making it so that it is available in various formats such as smart phone apps and websites that are easy to navigate. Lastly, they make and use visual data, such as maps in conjunction with the statistical data.

  3. Diana Uribe

    A follow-up report by NYU’s Graduate School of Public Service published August of 2013, documented twenty-five successful innovative programs. These programs occurring in cities worldwide, were recorded in hopes of other cities applying them to their neighborhoods. Programs ranged from healthcare to education. This report, “Innovation and The City Part II”, detailed the benefits of each program and the difference it made. One of the programs is the Gang Reduction and Youth Development Program in Los Angeles. This program focuses on neighborhoods with high crime rates, and gang activities. By creating after-school activities and special events at public parks, students kept busy unable to care for violent actions. The results state a percent drop of 55 in shots fired, and in gang related homicides a 57 percent drop. 1,000 jobs and eight new parks were also created (9, Web). Positive changes in a neighborhood like these are beyond encouraging and heart-filling.

  4. Taylor Couty

    In “Innovation and the City: Part II, which is a report of the 25 smart cities, it discusses the ways in which they create the best policies, proving as an example to leaders all over. New York City is listed as one of the examples, and their branch, the Center for Economic Opportunity and how they have created over fifty anti-poverty programs since the program first started in 2006. The goal of those programs is to better the lives of those who are classified as low-income. They help people build their funds by helping them open savings accounts, helping them further their place at work, and helping them search for jobs after release from prison. They are able to do all of this by finding and raising funds separately from the city budget.

  5. Jalyssa Ojeda

    In Rob Kitchin’s “The Real-Time City? Big Data and Smart Urbanism,” he discusses the role of smart cities, the features of big data, and the three different sources of data which include directed, automated and volunteered. According to Kitchin: “A smart city is one whose economy and governance is being driven by innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship, enacted by smart people” (2). In smart cities, the government uses different forms of technology to gather data from citizens on problems they face in their city. By doing this, they’re able to hone in and improve on the issues people are facing and actually make a beneficial change in their city once the problem is fixed. This is all done through the collection of big data which is made up of “massive, dynamic, varied, detailed, inter-related, low cost datasets” (5). These characteristics of big data allow it be used in various different ways. Big data can be derived from one of three sources.The first source is known as directed data which comes from long established forms of surveillance such as when technology controlled by someone watches over a person or place (pg. 6). The second source is automated data which comes from a built-in, mechanical function of a technological device or system (7). For example, this can be done through gathering data from metrocard machines down in the subway stations of NYC. The final source comes from volunteered data. Volunteered data is derived from the actual citizens of a city themselves. This can be done through retrieving info off of social media or online forums (7).

  6. martz284

    The New York Times article “Affordable Housing vs. Gentrification” seems to be a very relevant article especially in today’s political climate. The article quickly examines Mayor de Blasio’s efforts to “create two rezoning programs that are central components of [his] promise to build or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments over 10 years” (1). What is interesting about this effort is that it sounds like a positive fix to the problem of gentrification. However, the article describes public resistance to said efforts because of a lack of trust and the foresight that “mandatory zoning would create far too few apartments to meet the need… and they will be doled out by lottery” (2). This means that lots of people who already live in affordable housing will be uprooted and will have their lives disrupted by the Democratic Party’s seemingly well-meaning efforts. I highlight this because a big reason as to why the Democratic party has lost campaigns for most governorships, Congress seats, and now the 2016 election, is because everyday working people have lost trust in the party to help their needs. The article shows that this now also holds true in urban areas, which is may be troubling as the party typically has a strong hold on city support.

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