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The Programmable City
How is the city translated into software and data, and how does software reshape the city?
Curated by Rob Kitchin
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Special Issue on Networking and Communications for Smart Cities - Computer Communications

Smart Cities are technology-intensive cities in which the importance and role of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) is expanding. ICT plays a key role toward the sustainable development of new urban environments. Buildings with smart sensors and control systems can measure their environment and control it in real time (e.g. HVAC). Smart metering allows a utility company to match its production to the demand, dynamically. An electricity provider can influence both production and demand through the use of smart grid technology.

 

This special issue revolves on the following foundational question: what are the “unique” context characteristics, application and control needs, and traffic/user patterns in existing (and futuristic) smart city scenarios, which require a rethinking of networking and communication technologies and systems, as well as their relevant modeling and dimensioning methodologies?

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New Louisville Open Data Policy Insists Open By Default is the Future

New Louisville Open Data Policy Insists Open By Default is the Future | The Programmable City | Scoop.it
On Tuesday, October 15, 2013, Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced the signing of an open data policy executive order in conjunction with his compelling talk at the 2013 Code for America Summit.
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Is "Scientific Data" ever-finer salami-slicing, or is it reducing time to data publication?

Pedro Beltrao argues that Nature's new journal is simply another venue for them to suck money out of scientists. Maybe. But I'm strongly considering sending a lot of stuff there, and I really think Pedro is missing something very important.

 

(Yes, it is rare that I have a such a puzzled and strong reaction to a critique of a Nature endeavor. ;)

 

Pedro is missing the idea that this is publication of data, in a peer-reviewed journal. For those of us trying to push open data, this is incredibly important; there are few such journals out there that let me argue to my evaluators that I am doing something more significant than posting unreviewed tarballs on figshare. I've mostly been eyeing SIGS, which was co-founded by a colleague of mine in MMG at MSU; Scientific Data seems like a great addition to the field. It would be great to have more peer-reviewed journals that ensure that metadata standards are in place for the data, that basic correctness is there, and that is not for scientific discussion of analyses -- unlike e.g. PLoS One, which wants analysis (and where reviewers will happily argue about the quality and correctness of your analysis and interpretation)....

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Bad metrics and PDF graveyards: why development needs open data | The Guardian

Bad metrics and PDF graveyards: why development needs open data | The Guardian | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

It's not enough to simply make knowledge available. Data must also be actionable. Nathaniel Manning reiterates the importance of open data.

 

It is paramount to share datathroughout the development sector, most importantly getting it into the hands of the technologists in the developing world. The sector would benefit tremendously by embracing a collaborative, open development model in which not only financial and human capital is shared with the developing world but also the rich value of information capital.

 

Open data has a multiplier effect for development. The original work creates the benefit that it was specifically intended to do, and opening up the data produced from that work ignites entrepreneurship, creates jobs, and thus lifts people out of poverty in a local, sustainable way. ...

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Hacking the hackathon | Shaunagm.net

Friends, romans, civic tech enthusiasts, lend me your eyeballs. I come to bury hackathons, not to praise them.

Maybe it’s just the crowd I run with, but it’s hard to find a kind word about hackathons these days. You can see this attitude in commentary around the web: Hackathon projects aren’t sustained past the event, or picked up by anyone else. They don’t scale, and they’re hard to monetize. They don’t address well-articulated problems. Hackathons are literally bad for your health.

There’s depressingly little follow up after hackathons – it’s hard to figure out, six to twelve months later, what percentage of projects are still being maintained, let alone actually serving their intended purposes. Maybe this is simple oversight. Or maybe organizers don’t measure long-term success because they’re afraid they won’t find it. My own haphazard round-up of some of the sites participating in the National Day of Civic Hacking (NDoCH) found that even the most successful projects are seldom maintained well past the event. Of 10 projects with stated ongoing goals that I was able to find code repositories for, only 3 were updated in the last two months. ...

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Municipal memory? by Sam Kinsley

In the contemporary global North we increasingly retain information about ourselves and others using digital media. From supermarkets to banks and credit scoring agencies, much of our lives is being monitored and recorded through the proxy of our pecuniary activities. Networks of CCTV cameras, municipal transport ticketing and traffic management systems retain traces of our travel patterns. Furthermore we volunteer yet more information that is recorded by internet and media service providers, search engines and social media.

 

Thus many aspects of our lives are gathered and retained in databases and data stores variously owned by private and public organisations and institutions. This constitutes a growing system of memory—a memory of parts of life that might be otherwise forgotten or unthought. It also facilitates a kind of perpetual operation on memory, iteratively re-territorialising what is understood about our lives. The software programmes that drive digital media thus have significant agency in the various ways that we collectively communicate and remember. What is collected is not only retained but is also transmitted, folded into other data sets and utilised for civic and commercial purposes. In this section I want to focus on an ecosystem of mediated memory activities that is being constituted through networked digital technologies and the software that enables them to function. ...

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Suggestions for governments stepping into open data | govloop

Suggestions for governments stepping into open data | govloop | The Programmable City | Scoop.it
I've been completing a survey for the Spatial Industries Business Association (SIBA) related to the Queensland Government's open data initiative, where one of…
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How cities can create smart societies - Cities Today

How cities can create smart societies - Cities Today | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

Without new forms of partnership, governance and citizen engagement, administrators will not be able to realise the potential of new technologies.  Over the last ten years we have witnessed a “smart city boom”, largely driven by big technology vendors who have been leading much of the narrative around smart cities through conference presentations, research papers and pilot projects. Not surprisingly, there has been a strong bias towards smart technology being seen as the saviour for urban challenges. But while there have been projects where technology is making a significant difference such as Rio de Janiero’s much trumpeted Operations Center designed by IBM, the practical reality is that some of these projects are failing to add long- term value because they have not been aligned to an overarching strategy and/ or have been implemented in silos with no coordination between city functions. Cities will not be able to address the myriad of complex issues they face through the procurement of a ‘one-stop- shop’ solution. ...

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The Chilling Implications of Democratizing Big Data: Facebook Graph Search Is Only the Beginning | Mapcite

The Chilling Implications of Democratizing Big Data: Facebook Graph Search Is Only the Beginning | Mapcite | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

While privacy advocates have expressed concern about the phenomenon of massive data collection and analytics colloquially known as “big data,” most people are more familiar with social media anxiety, like inappropriate Facebook posts leading to embarrassing and reputation ruining incidents. This situation is likely to change, and in the near future society will have to confront a profound question..  What happens when everyone can get their curious, envious, and outraged hands on increasingly powerful surveillance tools and correlation-creating algorithms that have high predictive value, powerful aggregation potential, and can be put to discriminatory, manipulative, and exploitative use? ...

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Peter Foster: Not smart! | Financial Post

Peter Foster: Not smart! | Financial Post | The Programmable City | Scoop.it
When it comes to smart grids, smart cities and smart growth, we are dealing with concepts that are potentially subversive, or dumb, or both
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Smart Cities: Buggy and Brittle Places: Design Observer

Smart Cities: Buggy and Brittle Places: Design Observer | The Programmable City | Scoop.it
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The Long Hack: Finding Your Own Take on Civic Tech By Way of ‘Smart Cities’ – Next City

The Long Hack: Finding Your Own Take on Civic Tech By Way of ‘Smart Cities’ – Next City | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

I want to begin by putting two facts from Anthony Townsend’s new book, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers and the Quest for a New Utopia, right beside each other. First, GPS-enabled phones aren’t just capable of tracking our locations all the time, but they are also pretty much making a giant record of it. Creepy, right? Second, do you know about the most frequently sent text in the world? It’s “Where r u?”

 

Humans have the urge to know where other humans are, and many systems out there work better when we have that information. On the other hand, it can be abused. Smart Cities takes a valiant stab at balancing the great promise of the data age, civic technology and hackable cities with all the ways it could be used to manipulate, oppress or even put us in danger as it ostensibly makes us safer. ...

 

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Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance | NY Times

Privacy Fears Grow as Cities Increase Surveillance | NY Times | The Programmable City | Scoop.it
A program in Oakland, Calif., is one of the latest and most contentious examples of cities using big data technology, and federal dollars, for routine law enforcement.
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Do You Know Where Your Data Is And Who Reads It? Varonis Knows | Forbes

data protection is a hot issue not just for the NSA. It may well be the defining challenge of the age of big data. Enterprises in both the private and public sectors feel pressured to take advantage of the rapid growth of digital data. Rather than drown in it, they open it up to anyone inside and outside of their walls that can do something useful with the data. But shared data equals both increased value and increased risk....

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What Big Data Means For Big Cities | NPR

What Big Data Means For Big Cities | NPR | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

Big Data promises a future where our Big Cities become more flexible and responsive to human needs.

 

Sometimes the most powerful and transformative technologies emerge by accident, an unintended consequence of other developments. When this happens, the scope and power of the new technology can't be fully appreciated until after we have embedded it in our culture.

is all that and much, much more. ....

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Post-Digital Humanities | Stunlaw

Post-Digital Humanities | Stunlaw | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

Today we live in computational abundance whereby our everyday lives and the environment that surrounds us is suffused with digital technologies. This is a world of anticipatory technology and contextual computing that uses smart diffused computational processing to create a fine web of computational resources that are embedded into the material world. Thus, the historical distinction between the digital and the non-digital becomes increasingly blurred, to the extent that to talk about the digital presupposes a disjuncture in our experience that makes less and less sense. Indeed, in a similar way to which the "online" or "being online" has become anachronistic, with our always-on smart phones and tablets and widespread wireless networking technologies, so too, perhaps, the term "digital" assumes a world of the past. ...

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Help Bring New York City's Past Back to Life From Your Phone - Wired Science

Help Bring New York City's Past Back to Life From Your Phone - Wired Science | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

You might think of libraries as musty shrines to dead tree technology, visited mainly by school groups, middle-aged public radio subscribers, and passersby in need of a restroom. In some cases you might be right. But the New York Public Library is doing some creative things to make its vast collections more relevant in the digital age. ...

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Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation (book)

The rise of open data in the public sector has sparked innovation, driven efficiency, and fueled economic development. And in the vein of high-profile federal initiatives like Data.gov and the White House’s Open Government Initiative, more and more local governments are making their foray into the field with Chief Data Officers, open data policies, and open data catalogs.

 

While still emerging, we are seeing evidence of the transformative potential of open data in shaping the future of our civic life. It’s at the local level that government most directly impacts the lives of residents—providing clean parks, fighting crime, or issuing permits to open a new business. This is where there is the biggest opportunity to use open data to reimagine the relationship between citizens and government.


Beyond Transparency is a cross-disciplinary survey of the open data landscape, in which practitioners share their own stories of what they’ve accomplished with open civic data. It seeks to move beyond the rhetoric of transparency for transparency’s sake and towards action and problem solving. Through these stories, we examine what is needed to build an ecosystem in which open data can become the raw materials to drive more effective decision-making and efficient service delivery, spur economic activity, and empower citizens to take an active role in improving their own communities.

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Data Stories #27: Big Data Skepticism w/ Kate Crawford | Podcast

Data Stories #27: Big Data Skepticism w/ Kate Crawford | Podcast | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

Here we go with another great episode. This time more on the data side. We have Kate Crawford (Principal Researcher at Microsoft Research) on the show talking about the other face of big data.

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Smart City Design Principles | Urban Technologist

Smart City Design Principles | Urban Technologist | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

At the same time that cities everywhere are seeking funds for Smarter City initiatives, and often relying on central government or research grants to do so, I know of literally billions of Pounds, Euros, and Dollars that are being spent on relatively conventional development and infrastructure projects that aren’t particularly “smart”.

 

Why is that? ...

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Smart Cities as Urbanisations of Data: Towards a Critique of Urban Informatics // v.2.0

A paper of mine, titled ‘Smart Cities as Urbanisation of Data: Towards a Critique of Urban Informatics’, was accepted for presentation at the at the Special Session on ‘Smart Cities: Discourses, Policies and Technologies in the Making‘ at RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2013, held in London in August this year. ....

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Jaron Lanier Discusses Big Data, Privacy at NYPL LIVE Event

Jaron Lanier Discusses Big Data, Privacy at NYPL LIVE Event | The Programmable City | Scoop.it
Network technology democratizes access to information, but the corporate use of personal data has been an unfortunate consequence, argues Jaron Lanier
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Chicago's future innovators look to the past: what a tech incubator looks like

Chicago's future innovators look to the past: what a tech incubator looks like | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

The future of innovation in Chicago is being created in one of the oldest buildings in the city. Up on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart an unusually high level of entrepreneurial energy is coming from a 50,000 sq.  In a large communal space 20 & 30-somethings are sprawled on couches, glued to laptops, and of course slurping coffee. These digital dreamers are all here for one reason. They want to be the next Groupon or Grubhub...or if they’re lucky, Google. This is what a tech incubator looks like ...

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European Commission to invest €200m in Smart Cities in the next two years

European Commission to invest €200m in Smart Cities in the next two years | The Programmable City | Scoop.it

The High Level Group of the European Innovation Partnership for Smart Cities and Communities has adopted the Partnership's Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP), which is to serve as the basis for speeding up the deployment of Smart City solutions in Europe, as part of which the European Commission is expected to invest around €200m to create Smart Cities in the next two years, the Commission said in a press release. ...

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Your city is spying on you: From iPhones to cameras, you are being watched right now | Salon

Your city is spying on you: From iPhones to cameras, you are being watched right now | Salon | The Programmable City | Scoop.it
Cities used to be anonymous. No longer -- smart phones and ever-present surveillance have eyes on you right now
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