By John Tolva
When I left IBM just over two years ago to become the first Chief Technology Officer for the City of Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel gave me clear marching orders. I was to take the lead in setting high standards for open, participatory government to involve all Chicagoans. At the time, Chicago lagged behind other American cities in open data access and other digital city initiatives.Thanks to a lot of work and creativity by Chicagoans in government, non-profits, businesses and community groups—not to mention individuals–we have more than caught up. We achieved great progress in making city data available to all, in catalyzing an app economy and in improving digital literacy. Yet I feel that we have just scratched the surface of what’s possible when it comes to fostering participatory democracy. Continue Reading »
By Martin Fleming
In a recent New York Times article, reporter James Glanz asks: “Is Big Data an Economic Dud?” Mr. Glanz seems to answer his own question skeptically. The “data era,” he suggests, will not match the earlier revolutions in manufacturing, domestic life and transportation.
In addition, the Wall Street Journal posted a blog discussing that Big Data is at, or near the peak of the Gartner “hype cycle” and “big data technologies are now soon to be due for a fall into the ‘trough of disillusionment.’” Continue Reading »
By Dr. Jochen Schmidt
New Zealand’s farmers and growers are in constant combat with the country’s variable and often extreme weather.
Many important operational decisions – when to fertilize, irrigate, spray or move stock, for example – hinge on knowing precisely what the weather is going to do. Extreme events like floods, frosts, snowstorms and droughts can have a devastating effect on productivity and profitability.
So being prepared is key.
Standard public weather forecasts generally fall far short of what farmers and growers need. So at New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) we used our high-resolution forecasting capability to launch a new subscription service called NIWA forecast to generate predictions tailored to their specific needs. Continue Reading »
By Dr. Katharine Frase
The urbanization age is upon us. While the estimates vary of what percentage of population will live in cities by 2020, 2050, or even 2015 for that matter, what remains constant is the undeniable pace of change cities are already facing – change that will only accelerate.
Cities around the world, whether big, mid-size or small, are reaching their limits from growing and aging populations, strained infrastructures and a constant need to do more with less.
To reinvent themselves for the 21st century – “the New Era of Smart” – cities are turning to data. Using and analyzing information in new ways is enabling them to anticipate problems in real time, or better yet, before they happen. In addition, the knowledge and insight is crucial for city officials to make better decisions and swiftly resolve the issues that are most pressing for citizens. Continue Reading »
By Frances West
When we hear the word “accessibility,” most people assume it has to do with providing equal access to people with disabilities.
But accessibility is much broader in scope and has become a societal issue that can impact us all.
Today, creating an inclusive, accessible world is about meeting the broad range of individual human needs so that everyone – including people with disabilities, the aging population, novice technology users, and people with language, learning and literacy challenges – can live to the best of their ability.
And it’s smart business, too. Accessible technology systems enable differentiated customer experiences for every user on any device – anytime and anywhere – and create a competitive advantage for those businesses deploying them. Continue Reading »
Rachel Haot is the chief digital officer for New York City, heading the NYC Digital program. Mayor Michael Bloomberg appointed her to the newly-created post in 2011. Previously, Haot founded GroundReport, a crowdsourced news Web site based in New York. She recently answered some questions for the A Smarter Planet blog about what it takes to make a digital city. Here’s an edited version of the interview:
A Smarter Planet: Why did you accept Mayor Bloomberg’s offer to become New York’s first chief digital officer?
Haot: I had always been interested in the intersection of technology and government, so I saw his offer as a phenomenal chance to serve the greatest city on earth and to help to galvanize the momentum that I already saw building. Our goal at the start was to create the first digital roadmap that any city has produced, and to use that roadmap to make a difference in the lives of New Yorkers.
Here’s Haot talking about how to run a successful hackathon:
By Dr. David Sinclair
What skills will tomorrow’s city leaders need?
This is a very broad question, but it has a specific set of answers. Tomorrow’s urban leaders must organize, analyze and understand the resource that is Big Data. They will need to be able to use the sea of data pouring into their systems to predict how the city will operate and then build adaptable and informed plans to deal with the inevitable disruption and change. This set of skills fall under the heading of data analytics.
It is with these skills in mind that we have designed a Data Analytics Master’s programme at Dublin City University in partnership with IBM Research Dublin. The goal of the programme is to provide future planners with a deep understanding of the issues, as well as the techniques and tools needed to explore large amounts of raw data and extract meaningful conclusions from it. With such a skill set, tomorrows’ urban leaders will be positioned to build smarter, sustainable cities. Continue Reading »
By Rich Michos
An increasing percentage of the world’s population lives in cities, but many of the old problems persist even as new opportunities emerge. Fortunately, a new generation of leaders, comfortable with technology, is embracing the value of data analytics in decision-making in hopes that it will help them transform their cities.
As a result, in spite of financial pressures, many cities around the globe are aggressively adopting Smarter Cities technology. In a just-issued report, Navigant Research estimates that the global market for Smart Cities technology will grow from $6.1 billion annually in 2012 to more than $20 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 16.2%. This represents a cumulative investment of over $117 billion in smart city technologies between 2012 and 2020. The same report named IBM as the #1 supplier of smart city technology. Continue Reading »
By Rich Hume
With 20 percent of its land below sea level and more than half of the country vulnerable to flooding, The Netherlands depends on a vast network of dykes and sluices to hold back and divert sea, river and rain water. For most of the past 500 years, the ever-evolving system has done its job admirably. (An exception came in 1953, with flooding that caused the deaths of 1800 people.) Yet global warming and the threat of rising sea levels but also more droughts means the Dutch can’t rest on their laurels. So the government is launching an innovative collaboration aimed at harnessing big data to improve management of the water system while restraining cost increases. Continue Reading »
By John Hearne
I recently read a story about an elderly woman with a heart condition. She lives in a building without air conditioning and there was concern that a hot and humid day in July could easily put her health at risk and possibly lead to a costly ER visit.
As the story pointed out, the reality is that a few hundred dollars for an air conditioner could solve the problem before it ever happened.
Of course, to case workers at social services agencies around the world, the difficulty of identifying interventions before situations become critical is not news.
In a perfect system, an individual’s health needs would be understood not only medically, but also in the context of their lifestyle, living environment, family conditions and other social factors. Making this information readily available to health and case workers would help them spend more time in the field where they are needed the most. Continue Reading »