Data-driven decisionmaking in city government has expanded rapidly in recent years, driven by advances in technology and the digitization of many city services. The Urban Institute applauds the growth of data-driven decisionmaking, but they also recognize there are real concerns about the potential for bias in data used to guide public decisions. Left unchecked, unrepresentative data can directly lead to inequitable policy outcomes that harm vulnerable groups.
For example, many public worksdepartments have started using citizen complaint data, like 311 requests, to allocate scarce city resources to perform sidewalk repairs and fix potholes. On the surface, this may seem like a way to make governments more responsive to citizen needs. The problem is that citizen complaint systems are more likely to be used by certain demographic groups, namely white residents, highly educated residents, and high-income residents. Follow this link to learn more.
Effectively operating the transportation systems of tomorrow is going to take more than thoughtful planning; it’s also going to require a lot of good data, experts say. This process is already playing out with the wide adoption of standardized methods for collecting and using transportation data, namely through open-source software and the Mobility Data Specification (MDS), which lays out a road map to connect mobility companies with local governments. MDS is often credited with making emerging forms of mobility – bikes, e-scooters, rentable and sharable cars, integrated mobility options within the larger transportation ecosystem. These specifications are in use by about 90 cities around the world. Follow this link to learn more.
It’s been four years since the city of Columbus was declared the winner of the U.S. Department of Transportation Smart Cities Challenge. Now, several grant-supported projects by The Ohio State University are reaching their conclusions. Researchers at Ohio State agree the work for a smarter Columbus is just getting started.
David Cooke, senior associate director of the Center for Automotive Research (CAR) and one of the university partners with Smart Columbus, said the lessons learned from the program will have a long-term impact. “What [the smart cities grant] brought to the city of Columbus is to really put us at the forefront of mobility and smart cities research on a national scale,” Cooke said. “[CAR has been] engaged in automotive research for 30 years doing a subset of this work, very specifically on vehicle design and systems development, but mobility is much broader than just the vehicle.” Follow this link to read more.
Racial and ethnic inequalities loom large in American society. People of color face structural barriers when it comes to securing quality housing, healthcare, employment, and education. Racial disparities also permeate the criminal justice system in the United States and undermine its effectiveness. At the Urban Institute, they examine how historical and ongoing public policies, institutional practices, and cultural narratives perpetuate racial inequalities and constrain mobility for communities of color. For decades, their researchers have called attention to the role of race and racism in our public and private institutions and offered evidence-based solutions for how to address these inequities. Scholars will continue to play a crucial role as we work to elevate the public discourse around race and inequality in America. Follow this link to learn more.
Flexible routes and schedules, pandemic planning, and more significant relationships with private-sector mobility operations could be some of the lasting effects the coronavirus crisis has on public transit. Moving forward, experts say the novel coronavirus will likely prompt longer-term design changes to transit systems, as well as more immediate stop-gap efforts once these systems begin to resume more normal service routines. These impacts were the topic of discussion during an online Shared Mobility Summit panel discussion Wednesday. “We’ll likely see mask requirements on a lot of systems for the next year or so. We’ll start seeing hand sanitizers placed at train stations and busy bus stops. Longer-term, agency planning is just going to have to take pandemics into mind,” said Chris Van Eyken, a senior associate at TransitCenter. Follow this link to learn more.
A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences charts a worrying global shift towards more-sprawling and less-hooked-up street networks over time. In their interactive online Global Sprawl Map, the bluer the area, the more compact its streets tend to be. The redder, the more sprawling. Follow this link to learn more.
Cities around the world face rapid urbanization, economic constraints, and environmental concerns. To address these challenges, city administrators are turning to technology, especially the Internet of Things (IoT), to digitize city operations. Unfortunately, smart city technologies pose significant challenges of their own. Smart city IoT services include smart lighting, smart parking, intelligent traffic management systems, smart waste management, video surveillance with analytics, and real-time monitoring of pollution and air quality. They can help make cities more accessible, safer, greener, and livable. Follow this link to learn more.