Thursday, August 23, 2018

Data City Management

Most of today's modern municipal governments are comprised of municipal departments that manage the day-to-day management of the city through the use of computers and through various information input programs of low "Technology readiness levels" (TRL). 
Because of this and the low technological abilities of many city employees, much of the day to day city management /work is still recorded in various non-technological means such as excel sheets, word documents on individual computers, unrecorded calls or handwritten notifications. In most cities, where there are departmental computer systems this information is recorded on various "servers or silos" that do not recognize nor communicate with each other.

In many Municipalities it is the norm that critical information and hours of staff time is lost because it is not; "saved" nor retained by being filed, or stored in a systematic manner on a central data hub that would allow for rapid search and recall of the already accomplished work or previously completed forms by municipal clerks or employees. The information from one department that may be essential for the answer to a problem in another department may not be realized due to the non-communication and sharing that could be realized through a centralized data hub. This loss of data and hours of work, on a yearly basis, costs municipalities an unknown amount of city budgetary funds in information that may be vital to another department or simply saved to be used again.

The major points to be considered:
  • In most cities the varied sources of municipal data are not shared causing "Data Stagnation" and "Data Loss".
  • The possession of the departmental data is too often closely guarded by departmental clerks as though controlled by feudal landlords. "Unshared Information"
  • The issue is not just how to extract the data from the varied departments, but how to formalize, accumulate, analyze and interpret the different forms of data-sets from city wide departments and sources into one finite set. Creation of a central data hub / set
Improved "Technology readiness levels" (TRL) will enable:
  • The first, or key areas, that can benefit the most from refined city-wide data management and efficiency will be in the management of city resources specifically in the use of, disposal of and need for: water, waste and energy.
  • Secondly, improved data management can allow for better assessment, monitoring and improving of those areas that directly affect the constituents in the fields of health, housing, safety, movement or traffic flow. Improved data collection can also improve the revenue systems that sustain the municipality and its inhabitants.
The need for rapid data transfer in real time, due to the digitalization (computerization) of everything, implies that we are increasingly reliant on data analytics to enhance city management and recognize the fundamental fact that data is at the heart of all modern Municipal management. Cities striving to become more responsive must have access to rapid Internet connections to enable the "IOT" to work efficiently so vital information will be shared in "real time". 
Another essential building block in the "Technology readiness levels" (TRL) is the need for a trained and technologically efficient staff. 
These are the necessary basic components that will facilitate the sharing; securely, quickly and seamlessly of large quantities of data among city departments and staff.

Smart cities are based on data it is a simple fact. In a "Smart City" if you want data, you need sensors. It’s not like roads, buildings and street lights will wake up magically and start chatting about the weather. We need sensors to see, hear, smell, taste and feel on their behalf. A platform can then aggregate all their data and use it to make (or propose) decisions at speeds exceeding human capacity.
For example; street lights that have data sensors and CCTV for live "real -time" monitoring positioned at key locations; like city traffic points and major roadways to help identify problems, assist in emergencies, crime and repairs. These sensors need to be connected through a rapid internet connection so that they can be effectively monitored by trained and educated staff. This is where "Technology readiness levels" (TRL) are a must.

To begin the process.

The first step to treating your city’s data as an asset is to establish a clear authority body to oversee the data inventory process and this is where a trained Municipal Data Analytic Team comes into force. Since cities usually have an unknown number of data-sets across multiple servers, databases, and computers, the first major step in developing an overall city data management system is the incorporation of a Municipal Data Analytic Team who will complete the integration and narrowing down of which data-sets. Their first job will be to make a municipal city-wide inventory of overall accumulate data from all city sources. They will also need to plan how to make future inventory updates.
This "reorganization" of data is one which requires robust data management and an astute Chief Data Officer to lead the analysis that only a Municipal Analytic Team can provide. Without this proper reorganization, cities will continue the uphill battle to interconnect information and deliver a sustainable, prosperous and efficient living environment for their residents and this can ONLY be made possible by a thoroughly trained Municipal staff who create the data inventory.
The Municipal Analytic Team can then utilize the acquired data and analytic systems and processes to recommend and facilitate projects for the good of the constituents (residents).

The important points to remember:

Knowing what data your city collects leads to efficiency, and increases accountability. It also eases citywide reporting, decision making, and performance optimization.
Managing a data inventory reduces risk and uncertainty by creating a checklist for security and compliance requirements and improves a city’s ability to designate accountability for the quality of the data collected and created.
A municipality gains the ability to deliver results by its acceptance and creation of a culture of using its data assets, enhanced abilities to properly and efficiently access the information collected from archived municipal files, in various city department and from the public sector in a centralized data platform.
Because cities may have thousands of datasets across multiple servers, databases, and computers, it’s helpful to narrow down which datasets should be included in the inventory overall and how to plan for inventory updates in the future.

Remember the collection of data from varied sources and departments is made possible by a thoroughly trained Municipal staff with high or better yet advanced "Technology readiness levels" (TRL).   
The Municipal Analytic Team then can easily utilize the acquired data and analytic systems and processes to recommend and facilitate projects for the good of the constituents (residents).

The changing nature of the technologies themselves, our homes and our urban environments, are turning modern municipalities into landscapes populated by more and more connected “IOTs”. The "Things" are equipped with many different sensors for data capture and cities need data- analytics to rapidly process and "ingest" the data. This need for rapid data processing drives the growing need for inter-operable platforms and standards that will provide municipalities the advantage in successful sustainable management.
Supporting the need to gather, collate, and present Municipal data in a legible way is a fundamental requirement if we are to cope with future demands and to make our cities resilient. Deriving value from data is a central and an essential to building block in the evolution of smart cities and delving into bigger-picture information is key to generating insights. Data is the key to giving municipalities the knowledge they need to direct their investments wisely.