Wednesday, October 17, 2012 from 5 PM to 6:30 PM
Please join us for a CPAP Roundtable on Leadership and Administration
Guest Speakers: Dr. Alan Shark, Executive Director, Public Technology Institute and Craig Fifer, MPA, Deputy Director of Communications, City of Alexandria, Virginia
Dr. Shark will share first-hand his thoughts on his new book, The Seven Trends that Will Transform Local Government Through Technology and lay out a vision for public managers at every level of government. He has interviewed hundreds of CIOs, city and county managers, and elected leaders that have helped shape many of his thought-leadership books over the past several years. As a case study, Mr. Fifer will highlight several of the City of Alexandria’s technological innovations that are transforming how the city serves the public today.
Free and open to the public, although registration is required
Learn more and register at this link
Kevin Desouza and Joe Schilling co-authored an exploration of local sustainability planning in the PM Magazine of ICMA. The article, available online, provides a preliminary snapshot of local government sustainability plans and discusses ways that information technologies can enhance their design and implementation.
These are just a few of the questions we are exploring at the Metropolitan Institute’s Sustainability Planning Lab. Virginia Tech’s Sustainability Planning Lab is continuing to inventory, catalog, and assess the current planning landscape. Starting with a preliminary list of 240 cities, we found that 84 of these places did not have a true sustainability plan, but instead relied on an assortment of plans and programs.
Information technology plays a pivotal role in advancing sustainability. Instead of relying on a small cohort of experts to interpret residents’ needs and desires, through crowd sourcing and modeling solutions, residents themselves develop and even implement solutions to urban issues.
Kevin Desouza, has a new article accepted for publication in the Journal of Urban Technology. Co-authored with Akshay Bhagwatwar (Kelley School of Business, Indiana University), this paper, entitled “Opening up Information for Tackling Complex Urban Problems: A Study of Citizen Apps,” looks at how citizen apps are employed to solve complex urban problems. The Metropolitan Institute will build on this paper as it continues work on the IBM Center for the Business of Government grant.
Tackling complex urban problems requires us to examine and leverage diverse sources of information. Today, cities of all kinds and sizes capture a large amount of information in real-time. Data is captured on transportation patterns, electricity and water consumption, citizen use of government services (e.g. parking meters), and even on weather events. Through open data initiatives, government agencies are making information available to citizens. In turn, citizens are building applications that exploit this information to solve local urban problems. Citizens are also building platforms where they can share information regarding government services. Information that was previously unavailable is now being used to gauge quality of services, choose services, and report illegal and unethical behaviors (e.g. requesting bribes). To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to examine the range of citizen applications (‘citizen apps’) targeted to solve urban issues and their ensuing impacts on planning, decision-making, problem solving, and urban governance. We examine citizen apps that address a wide range of urban issues from those that solve public transportation challenges to those advance management public utilities and services and even public safety.
Citation: Desouza, K.C., and Bhagwatwar, A. “Opening up Information for Tackling Complex Urban Problems: A Study of Citizen Apps,” Journal of Urban Technology, Forthcoming.
The Metropolitan Institute at Virginia Tech has entered into an agreement to partner with ACT for Alexandria to advance the design of citizen engagement platforms. Kevin Desouza, Director of the Metropolitan Institute, will lead a team of researchers who will work in collaboration with ACT for Alexandria personnel to examine public participation on the ACTion Alexandria platform. The team will look at how user interactions on the community platform can guide design choices that promote more robust forms of citizen engagement.
ACT for Alexandria is a community foundation founded in the the fall of 2004 by a small group of citizens who came together to decide how best to stimulate philanthropic giving to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in their community. The ACTion Alexandria project is a new citizen engagement platform which provides interactive tools that make it easier for residents to take a more active role in addressing community problems. ACTion Alexandria connects individuals to nonprofit organizations they want to support, but with a strictly local focus. Individuals have the opportunity to take action on behalf of nonprofits working to improve the community.
“ACT for Alexandria is excited about partnering with the Metropolitan Institute to further refine and grow the ACTion Alexandria platform as a model for others nationally,” said John Porter, Executive Director of ACT. Tracy Viselli, the Project Manager for ACTion Alexandria, added “the possibilities for this platform working with the institute are endless.”
According to Desouza, “ACT for Alexandria is a prominent player in the non-profit space. We are excited to partner with them to study the dynamics of public participation in action. The ACTion platform gives us access to real world scenarios of how citizens use technology to engage each other.”
This initiative will advance the work being done in Policy Informatics at the Metropolitan Institute. “Designing better collaborative and participatory platforms remains a critical challenge in the public arena. We are not only interested in this project from a research point of view but also from a design and policy point of view,” says Desouza. The Metropolitan Institute will be analyzing information on user behavior on the platform, designing experiments to test various strategies for increasing engagement on the platform, and contributing to the design of the overall platform.
Desouza explains, “Collaborating on this effort allows us the opportunity to make a difference in our community. The MI is based in Alexandria and we want to be part of the community. ACT for Alexandria provides an amazing array of services, from scholarships to leadership training. ACTion Alexandria is where the idea of community engagement meets the newest technological innovations.”
Director Kevin Desouza employs sentiment analysis for tracking the progress of large-scale public sector projects from public documents
Kevin Desouza has co-authored a paper with Sandeep Purao and Jonathan Becker, both based at the College of Information Science and Technology at Penn State University, which analyzes the using sentiment analysis. The paper titled “Investigating Failures In Large-Scale Public Sector Projects With Sentiment Analysis” will appear in a special issue of e-Service Journal.
The research aims to determine early indicators of when large-scale public sector projects begin to go off the rails. Using historical analysis of the IRS Business Systems Modernization, a project that has already spanned a decade and consumed more than $3 billion, the paper explores quantifying stakeholder Sentiments and Confidence from documents, with a view to exploring how such measures may offer early indications of project progress and assist managers to prevent undesirable future outcomes.