Panel: Mind Bytes— Current and Future Urban Challenges: The Role of Big Data and Technology

Today I participated in a panel for Mind Bytes. Here’s a description:

Projections show that urbanization, combined with the overall growth of the world’s population, could add another 2.5 billion people to urban populations by 2050. Exponential growth in urban density and cities brings numerous challenges and opportunities, both in the short and long term. Various types of data are being collected and analyzed today that may provide answers to the big questions faced by cities in the 21st century. This panel will discuss current and future urban challenges, and how big data and technology is being used and can be used in the future to overcome them.

I covered the need for more focus on social science, in addition to data science, in efforts to help cities grow in equity.

I also got a lot out of a question from the audience about data, tech, privacy and Hollywood— we should do more to engage with audiences of Criminal Minds, CSI, and Person of Interest, and other such shows about the ramifications and reality of the plots and devices.

Documenters Session with Honorary Chicago

This evening I helped set up and run a Documenters session for Honorary Chicago. Here’s a snip from a blog post I wrote about the work on the Smart Chicago blog:

All of this is a part of digitizing the official records of the streets from City Council data not yet available in digital format to help complete Linda’s research of 30 years of honorary sign designations (more than 2,000 signs!).  Most of 1985-present has been collected, there are some gaps, especially in the 2003-2009 timeframe.

We’re going to help her with that. This is a perfect project for our Documenters program, for a number of reasons:

  • Focus is on city data and helping people understand a central record of our municipal government

  • Gets Chicago residents paid while learning and being civically engaged

  • Helps out a great actor in civic tech who has already done an enormous amount of work

  • We get to hang out at one of our central shared spaces— the public library!

I invented the Documenters program to “add new thinkers, generate ideas, and expand the field for civic tech”.