The GovLab Selected Readings on Urban Analytics

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of opening governance by organizing and disseminating its learnings, the GovLab Selected Readings series provides an annotated and curated collection of recommended works on key opening governance topics. In this edition, we explore the literature on Urban Analytics. To suggest additional readings on this or any other topic, please email biblio@thegovlab.org.

Data and its uses for Governance

Urban Analytics places better information in the hands of citizens as well as government officials to empower people to make more informed choices. Today, we are able to gather real-time information about traffic, pollution, noise, and environmental and safety conditions by culling data from a range of tools: from the low-cost sensors in mobile phones to more robust monitoring tools installed in our environment. With data collected and combined from the built, natural and human environments, we can develop more robust predictive models and use those models to make policy smarter.

With the computing power to transmit and store the data from these sensors, and the tools to translate raw data into meaningful visualizations, we can identify problems as they happen, design new strategies for city management, and target the application of scarce resources where they are most needed.

Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Annotated Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Amini, L., E. Bouillet, F. Calabrese, L. Gasparini, and O. Verscheure. “Challenges and Results in City-scale Sensing.” In IEEE Sensors, 59–61, 2011. http://bit.ly/1doodZm.

  • This paper examines “how city requirements map to research challenges in machine learning, optimization, control, visualization, and semantic analysis.”
  • The authors raises several research challenges including how to extract accurate information when the data is noisy and sparse; how to represent findings from digital pervasive technologies; and how people interact with one another and their environment.

Batty, M., K. W. Axhausen, F. Giannotti, A. Pozdnoukhov, A. Bazzani, M. Wachowicz, G. Ouzounis, and Y. Portugali. “Smart Cities of the Future.” The European Physical Journal Special Topics 214, no. 1 (November 1, 2012): 481–518. http://bit.ly/HefbjZ.

  • This paper explores the goals and research challenges involved in the development of smart cities that merge ICT with traditional infrastructures through digital technologies.
  • The authors put forth several research objectives, including: 1) to explore the notion of the city as a laboratory for innovation; 2) to develop technologies that ensure equity, fairness and realize a better quality of city life; and 3) to develop technologies that ensure informed participation and create shared knowledge for democratic city governance.
  • The paper also examines several contemporary smart city initiatives, expected paradigm shifts in the field, benefits, risks and impacts.

Budde, Paul. “Smart Cities of Tomorrow.” In Cities for Smart Environmental and Energy Futures, edited by Stamatina Th Rassia and Panos M. Pardalos, 9–20. Energy Systems. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2014. http://bit.ly/17MqPZW.

  • This paper examines the components and strategies involved in the creation of smart cities featuring “cohesive and open telecommunication and software architecture.”
  • In their study of smart cities, the authors examine smart and renewable energy; next-generation networks; smart buildings; smart transport; and smart government.
  • They conclude that for the development of smart cities, information and communication technology (ICT) is needed to build more horizontal collaborative structures, useful data must be analyzed in real time and people and/or machines must be able to make instant decisions related to social and urban life.

Cardone, G., L. Foschini, P. Bellavista, A. Corradi, C. Borcea, M. Talasila, and R. Curtmola. “Fostering Participaction in Smart Cities: a Geo-social Crowdsensing Platform.” IEEE Communications
Magazine 51, no. 6 (2013): 112–119. http://bit.ly/17iJ0vZ.

  • This article examines “how and to what extent the power of collective although imprecise intelligence can be employed in smart cities.”
  • To tackle problems of managing the crowdsensing process, this article proposes a “crowdsensing platform with three main original technical aspects: an innovative geo-social model to profile users along different variables, such as time, location, social interaction, service usage, and human activities; a matching algorithm to autonomously choose people to involve in participActions and to quantify the performance of their sensing; and a new Android-based platform to collect sensing data from smart phones, automatically or with user help, and to deliver sensing/actuation tasks to users.”

Harrison, C., B. Eckman, R. Hamilton, P. Hartswick, J. Kalagnanam, J. Paraszczak, and P. Williams. “Foundations for Smarter Cities.” IBM Journal of Research and Development 54, no. 4 (2010): 1–16. http://bit.ly/1iha6CR.

  • This paper describes the information technology (IT) foundation and principles for Smarter Cities.
  • The authors introduce three foundational concepts of smarter cities: instrumented, interconnected and intelligent.
  • They also describe some of the major needs of contemporary cities, and concludes that Creating the Smarter City implies capturing and accelerating flows of information both vertically and horizontally.

Hernández-Muñoz, José M., Jesús Bernat Vercher, Luis Muñoz, José A. Galache, Mirko Presser, Luis A. Hernández Gómez, and Jan Pettersson. “Smart Cities at the Forefront of the Future Internet.” In The Future Internet, edited by John Domingue, Alex Galis, Anastasius Gavras, Theodore Zahariadis, Dave Lambert, Frances Cleary, Petros Daras, et al., 447–462. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6656. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011. http://bit.ly/HhNbMX.

  • This paper explores how the “Internet of Things (IoT) and Internet of Services (IoS), can become building blocks to progress towards a unified urban-scale ICT platform transforming a Smart City into an open innovation platform.”
  • The authors examine the SmartSantander project to argue that, “the different stakeholders involved in the smart city business is so big that many non-technical constraints must be considered (users, public administrations, vendors, etc.).”
  • The authors also discuss the need for infrastructures at the, for instance, European level for realistic large-scale experimentally-driven research.

Keller, Sallie Ann, Steven E. Koonin, and Stephanie Shipp. “Big Data and City Living – What Can It Do for Us?Significance 9, no. 4 (2012): 4–7. http://bit.ly/166W3NP.

  • This article provides a short introduction to Big Data, its importance, and the ways in which it is transforming cities. After an overview of the social benefits of big data in an urban context, the article examines its challenges, such as privacy concerns and institutional barriers.
  • The authors recommend that new approaches to making data available for research are needed that do not violate the privacy of entities included in the datasets. They believe that balancing privacy and accessibility issues will require new government regulations and incentives.

Kitchin, Rob. “The Real-Time City? Big Data and Smart Urbanism.” SSRN Scholarly Paper. Rochester, NY: Social Science Research Network, July 3, 2013. http://bit.ly/1aamZj2.

  • This paper focuses on “how cities are being instrumented with digital devices and infrastructure that produce ‘big data’ which enable real-time analysis of city life, new modes of technocratic urban governance, and a re-imagining of cities.”
  • The authors provide “a number of projects that seek to producea real-time analysis of the city and provides a critical reflection on the implications of big data and smart urbanism.”

Mostashari, A., F. Arnold, M. Maurer, and J. Wade. “Citizens as Sensors: The Cognitive City Paradigm.” In 2011 8th International Conference Expo on Emerging Technologies for a Smarter World (CEWIT), 1–5, 2011. http://bit.ly/1fYe9an.

  • This paper argues that. “implementing sensor networks are a necessary but not sufficient approach to improving urban living.”
  • The authors introduce the concept of the “Cognitive City” – a city that can not only operate more efficiently due to networked architecture, but can also learn to improve its service conditions, by planning, deciding and acting on perceived conditions.
  • Based on this conceptualization of a smart city as a cognitive city, the authors propose “an architectural process approach that allows city decision-makers and service providers to integrate cognition into urban processes.”

Oliver, M., M. Palacin, A. Domingo, and V. Valls. “Sensor Information Fueling Open Data.” In Computer Software and Applications Conference Workshops (COMPSACW), 2012 IEEE 36th Annual, 116–121, 2012. http://bit.ly/HjV4jS.

  • This paper introduces the concept of sensor networks as a key component in the smart cities framework, and shows how real-time data provided by different city network sensors enrich Open Data portals and require a new architecture to deal with massive amounts of continuously flowing information.
  • The authors’ main conclusion is that by providing a framework to build new applications and services using public static and dynamic data that promote innovation, a real-time open sensor network data platform can have several positive effects for citizens.

Schaffers, Hans, Nicos Komninos, Marc Pallot, Brigitte Trousse, Michael Nilsson, and Alvaro Oliveira. “Smart Cities and the Future Internet: Towards Cooperation Frameworks for Open Innovation.” In The Future Internet, edited by John Domingue, Alex Galis, Anastasius Gavras, Theodore Zahariadis, Dave Lambert, Frances Cleary, Petros Daras, et al., 431–446. Lecture Notes in Computer Science 6656. Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 2011. http://bit.ly/16ytKoT.

  • This paper “explores ‘smart cities’ as environments of open and user-driven innovation for experimenting and validating Future Internet-enabled services.”
  • The authors examine several smart city projects to illustrate the central role of users in defining smart services and the importance of participation. They argue that, “Two different layers of collaboration can be distinguished. The first layer is collaboration within the innovation process. The second layer concerns collaboration at the territorial level, driven by urban and regional development policies aiming at strengthening the urban innovation systems through creating effective conditions for sustainable innovation.”

Suciu, G., A. Vulpe, S. Halunga, O. Fratu, G. Todoran, and V. Suciu. “Smart Cities Built on Resilient Cloud Computing and Secure Internet of Things.” In 2013 19th International Conference on Control Systems and Computer Science (CSCS), 513–518, 2013. http://bit.ly/16wfNgv.

  • This paper proposes “a new platform for using cloud computing capacities for provision and support of ubiquitous connectivity and real-time applications and services for smart cities’ needs.”
  • The authors present a “framework for data procured from highly distributed, heterogeneous, decentralized, real and virtual devices (sensors, actuators, smart devices) that can be automatically managed, analyzed and controlled by distributed cloud-based services.”

Townsend, Anthony. Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia. W. W. Norton & Company, 2013.

  • In this book, Townsend illustrates how “cities worldwide are deploying technology to address both the timeless challenges of government and the mounting problems posed by human settlements of previously unimaginable size and complexity.”
  • He also considers “the motivations, aspirations, and shortcomings” of the many stakeholders involved in the development of smart cities, and poses a new civics to guide these efforts.
  • He argues that smart cities are not made smart by various, soon-to-be-obsolete technologies built into its infrastructure, but how citizens use these ever-changing technologies to be “human-centered, inclusive and resilient.”

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Did we miss anything? Please submit reading recommendations to biblio@thegovlab.org or in the comments below.

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