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City Planning can be more agile with Data Analytics

A city’s data is one of its most valuable assets. Urban data is the bedrock of the performance management programs that allow cities to ensure continuous improvement. Reliable data can facilitate interagency collaboration, improve partnerships with the private sector, and expand public engagement. Innovative uses of data allow cities to enforce regulation and improve social services. And, increasingly, open data is serving as the foundation for good government activism, allowing journalists and civic hackers to highlight government inefficiencies or even spot corruption.

Yet these digital resources are often taken for granted. Outside of the dedicated world of civic technologists, many of us imagine that city data is readily accessible and easy to use. But the process of collecting, cleaning, integrating, and analyzing data requires extensive capital investment, interagency collaboration, and long-range vision. In the face of complex organizational and technical challenges, cities are developing strategic plans to guide the development of more open, data-driven city government.

As data assumes a more central role in local governance, cities are taking diverse approaches to planning and strategy. These plans move beyond the kind of roadmaps that have long been used by information technology agencies to set out operational and infrastructure improvements. Instead, they embrace the strategic, technical, and institutional requirements of a rich, cross-agency data environment. Approaches range from San Francisco’s Data in San Francisco, a standalone proposal for open data; to Hong Kong’s Smarter Hong Kong, Smarter Living, centered on information and communication technology infrastructure; and to the Chicago Tech Plan, which positions data as a step towards expanding the digital economy.

With so many ways to plan the city’s digital future, where should a planning process begin? Below, we profile the digital strategies of three US cities, highlighting strengths, weaknesses, and innovations. While the plans vary substantially, they fall into two distinct types: plans that focus on the city’s open data program and plans that address data as part of a comprehensive technology strategy.

Planning for a smarter city government will be different in each place: cities will want to build on synergies with regional partners in the public and private sector, as well as state and national governments, and the residents of each city will have unique concerns. Despite these particularities, data strategy best practices can help guide planning across cases.

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Article Source: datasmart.ash.harvard.edu

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