Information Systems for SolvingWicked Urban ProblemsRobert	  Goodspeed	  MIT	  Department	  of	  Urban	  Studies	  and	  P...
Outline1.  Can	  the	  city	  system	  be	  opDmized?	     	  The	  case	  of	  metropolitan	  Boston	  2.  What	  informa...
Can the city system be optimized?IBM Rio Operations Center                             Conceptual Drawing of “City Plannin...
Source: Savas, ES. 1970. “Cybernetics in City Hall.” Science 168 (3935):1066.
Dynamics of city governmentSource: City of Boston
Goal setting          Who has the legitimacy to set goals? What if they disagree?    Goal Stakeholders         Source of L...
Structure of government and service deliveryPower fragmented across the metropolis                      Source: Map by aut...
Administration                                                                        ORGANIZATION OF CITY GOVERNMENT     ...
Source: NASA GSF GOES Project/NASA Earth Observatory (Irene)Disturbances                            http://earthobservator...
Source: Flickr/Evan Leeson                                        http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecstaticist/3423689554/Can ...
Simulation UsefulCritique of urban models:•  Not practical for real-life•  Not rigorous enough for researchLee’s Seven Sin...
Information FeedbackPractical•  Dumb systems, lack of dataInstitutional•  Systems in silos within and between   government...
OK,	  opDmizaDon	  and	  real-­‐Dme	  control	  is	  hard	  but	  important	  for	  some	  things	  such	  as	  crisis	  r...
What is a ‘Wicked’ Problem?                              Rittel and Webber (1973)         Poorly Defined     Complex conte...
Can they be tackled?             Yes! Analytic-Deliberative-Design ProcessesSource: Faga 2006
What information systems do we need?            •      Public	  informaDon	  collecDon	  and	                     access	 ...
Public information collection and access systems                   (designed with humanist values)•     Public	  and	  pri...
ExamplesShort-term Public Value•  Useful apps•  Access to government services•  Crisis mapping/emergency   responseLong-te...
Deliberative Analysis•  All stakeholders should be   able to create, critique, and   understand models (NOT   everyone – s...
Process Support                                                                        •  Analytic                        ...
Public                                                     Citizen/employee                                               ...
How to move forward?•      Design science research methodology      •     “If the tool is all there is, the level of knowl...
Information Systems for Solving Wicked Problems   Public Information              Deliberative Analysis                   ...
Works CitedBranch, Melville Campbell. 1981. Continuous city planning : integrating municipal management and city planning....
Discussion       Robert Goodspeed       MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning       web.mit.edu/rgoodspe/www/      ...
Information Systems for Solving Wicked Urban Problems
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Information Systems for Solving Wicked Urban Problems

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The contemporary discourse of “smart cities” argues new urban information systems are needed that “exploit operational data … to optimize the operation of city services” through closed-loop control (Harrison et al. 2010). Drawing on the literature of urban modeling and using the city of Boston as an example, the longstanding challenges to urban optimization are described at each stage of the cybernetic control loop: goals, actuator, system, disturbances, and information feedback (Savas 1970; Wiener 1948). This approach is not well suited to “wicked” problems, which I defined as those that are poorly defined, involve many stakeholders, require complex solutions, involve trade-offs among values, and occur over long time horizons (Rittel and Webber 1973). Tackling these problems will require information systems that fall into three functional classes: public knowledge creation, deliberative analysis, and process support.

Works Cited

Harrison, C., B. Eckman, R. Hamilton, P. Hartswick, J. Kalagnanam, J. Paraszczak, and P. Williams. 2010. Foundations for Smarter Cities. IBM Journal of Research and Development 54 (4):1-16.
Rittel, HWJ, and MM Webber. 1973. Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy sciences 4 (2):155-169.
Savas, ES. 1970. Cybernetics in City Hall. Science 168 (3935):1066.
Wiener, Norbert. 1948. Cybernetics; or, Control and communication in the animal and the machine, M I T Technology Press publications. Cambridge, Mass.: Technology press.

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  • Short time horizonsDesire for quick returns
  • Not just about what are goals, also about resources and priorities
  • Quick, run a simulation of what would happen if a Category 4 Hurricane was on the way?
  • Where will growth occur?Where market wants (economist)Where zoning allows (lawyer)Where you can build housing types that conform to prevailing social norms of residents (Sociologist)All are correct. Cannot put all in the same model.
  • “All models wrong, but some are useful” (Box 1979)
  • Also CBA, Renn, other models
  • Simon
  • Transcript of "Information Systems for Solving Wicked Urban Problems"

    1. 1. Information Systems for SolvingWicked Urban ProblemsRobert  Goodspeed  MIT  Department  of  Urban  Studies  and  Planning    October  7,  2011  Urban  Systems  CollaboraDve  Seminar  Audio  online  at:  urbansystemscollaboraDve.org  
    2. 2. Outline1.  Can  the  city  system  be  opDmized?    The  case  of  metropolitan  Boston  2.  What  informaDon  systems  should  we  build  to   solve  wicked  urban  problems?  
    3. 3. Can the city system be optimized?IBM Rio Operations Center Conceptual Drawing of “City Planning Center”“Smarter Cities are urban areas that exploit From Melvin Branch’s 1981 book “Continuous Cityoperational data, such as that arising from traffic Planning: Integrating municipal management and citycongestion, power consumption statistics, and planning”public safety events, to optimize the operation ofcity services.” (Harrison et al 2010)Image Source:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ibm_media/5299500003/
    4. 4. Source: Savas, ES. 1970. “Cybernetics in City Hall.” Science 168 (3935):1066.
    5. 5. Dynamics of city governmentSource: City of Boston
    6. 6. Goal setting Who has the legitimacy to set goals? What if they disagree? Goal Stakeholders Source of Legitimacy Dilemmas Multiple levels ofElected Officials Democracy (elections) government Should there be limits?Experts Professional Which professions?Residents Personal Which residents?Committees, commissions, Member identities How should they beboards, etc. Group activities involved?
    7. 7. Structure of government and service deliveryPower fragmented across the metropolis Source: Map by author using MAPC MetroBoston•  101 municipalities Datacommon (metrobostondatacommon.org)•  Myriad of public and private agencies –  Transit: MBTA, private, city –  Sewer: MWRA, munis, private –  Electrical: Nstar, National Grid, munis –  Rail: Amtrak, freight companies –  Roads: MassDOT, DCR, municipalitiesPowers restricted by state law –  E.g., cannot create new taxesPower fragmented within city hall•  Multiple departments, agencies, advisory committees•  Separation of powers – city council
    8. 8. Administration ORGANIZATION OF CITY GOVERNMENT Non- Mayoral City Clerk Office of the Mayor CITIZENS OF BOSTON (appointed by City Council) Chief of Staff (1) Intergovernmental Corporation Counsel (1) Relations City Council Office of Emergency Neighborhood Services (elected position) Preparedness (1) Office of New Bostonians Chief of Policy and Mayor Office of Public Information Finance Commission Planning (1) (appointed by Governor) Licensing Board (appointed by Governor) Office of the Chief Operating Officer Chief Operating Officer Boston Public Library Labor Relations Graphic Arts Human Resources Management & Information Services Registry Division Housing & Public Health Public Works & Economic Environment and Education Finance Public Safety Public Property Human Services Neighborhood Commission (2) Transportation Development Energy Development Boston Property &Boston Public Assessing Fire Public Works Redevelopment Neighborhood Boston Housing Construction Environment Civil Rights Schools Authority* Authority/Economic Development Management Development Industrial Auditing Police Transportation Commission * Open Space Planning Boston Centers for Parks & Recreation (3) Youth & Families Boston Residents Budget Management Job Policy Office Consumer Affairs & Elderly Commission Inspectional Services Licensing Small & Local Purchasing Business E nterprise Arts, Tourism & Veterans Services Office Special Events Emergency Shelter Treasury Elections Womens Commission Retirement Board * Where is the control center? * Not In Operating Budget Youth Fund (1) Has cabinet rank. (2) The Boston Public Health Commission is an indepe ndent authority created in June 1996. Do all departments (3) Programmatically within this cabinet; financially in Parks & Recreation share the same goals?
    9. 9. Source: NASA GSF GOES Project/NASA Earth Observatory (Irene)Disturbances http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=51899 Unpredictable,   unprecedented   Exogenous  forces:   economic  shiRs,  climate   change,  gas  prices  
    10. 10. Source: Flickr/Evan Leeson http://www.flickr.com/photos/ecstaticist/3423689554/Can the city be modeled asa complex system?•  Natural and physical systems•  Human behavior •  Poorly described by any theory •  Complex interactions•  Subject to exogenous forces•  Highly stochastic
    11. 11. Simulation UsefulCritique of urban models:•  Not practical for real-life•  Not rigorous enough for researchLee’s Seven Sins:(still a major problem = ✔)–  Hypercomprehensiveness ✔–  Grossness–  Hungriness–  Wrongheadedness ✔–  Complicatedness ✔–  Mechanicalness ✔ Allocation modeling makes many assumptions to find useful–  Expensiveness ✔ results. Image: Lulu Xue for MIT Class 11.951, M. Flaxman, Simulating Sustainable Futures, Fall 2008.“Build only simply models”Source: Lee (1974, 1993)
    12. 12. Information FeedbackPractical•  Dumb systems, lack of dataInstitutional•  Systems in silos within and between governments (Ferreira and Evans 1995)Theoretical•  Data we have like trace measures The City of Boston crime tracking system is may not measure what we want to not easily available to other departments, or the public. Image source: City of Boston know (Webb 2000)
    13. 13. OK,  opDmizaDon  and  real-­‐Dme  control  is  hard  but  important  for  some  things  such  as  crisis  response  and  urban  service  delivery.    What  it  can  achieve  is  fundamentally  limited  by  legal,  poliDcal,  and  pracDcal  consideraDons.    What  informaDon  systems  do  we  need  to  tackle  the  really  big  problems?  
    14. 14. What is a ‘Wicked’ Problem? Rittel and Webber (1973) Poorly Defined Complex context Many stakeholders involved Solutions require design Decisions require weighing Long time horizons and analysis value trade-offsExamples:How should our city grow? How can we improve equity? How do we create jobs?
    15. 15. Can they be tackled? Yes! Analytic-Deliberative-Design ProcessesSource: Faga 2006
    16. 16. What information systems do we need? •  Public  informaDon  collecDon  and   access   •  Public  and  private  data  infrastructures   •  Public  measurement  systems     •  DeliberaDve  analysis  and  modeling   •  Enhanced  access  to  analysis  skills,   improved  modeling  methods   •  Federated  modeling  systems     •  Process  support   •  ParDcipaDon  technology   •  Knowledge  and  process  management  
    17. 17. Public information collection and access systems (designed with humanist values)•  Public  and  private  data   infrastructures   •  SpaDal  data  infrastructure   •  Data  portals  and  APIs  •  Public  measurement  systems   •  Crowdsourced  datasets   •  Volunteered  geographic   informaDon  •  Humanist  values   •  Security  (Supply  and  Demand)   •  Privacy  (Fair  InformaDon   PracDces)   Functional view of SDI •  Democracy   •  Others?  
    18. 18. ExamplesShort-term Public Value•  Useful apps•  Access to government services•  Crisis mapping/emergency responseLong-term Public Value•  Open innovation•  Operational improvements•  Research uses•  Policy and planning monitoring and analysis
    19. 19. Deliberative Analysis•  All stakeholders should be able to create, critique, and understand models (NOT everyone – sociotechnical perspective)•  Goal is improved ability to use them to test alternatives, evaluate policies•  Most tools still expensive “black boxes” even for appropriate users •  E.g., GIS-based tools, Transportation models•  Developments: •  XML for planning analytics (Singh 2003) •  Envision Tomorrow going open source? •  Lincoln Institute open source tools book Source: Fregonese Associates
    20. 20. Process Support •  Analytic •  Spreadsheets, GIS, models •  Deliberative Management Planning Systems Tools •  Forums, polling, surveys, websites •  Design •  GIS, Sketchup, Design softwareSystem Inside Outside Example Government GovernmentGIS Operational needs, Various ESRI ArcSDE mapping & analysisProject Tracking Project Transparency Paladin Data Management SystemsPermitting Business process Monitoring and management indicatorsPlan creation Document Commenting and Limehouse management feedback Software
    21. 21. Public Citizen/employee Stakeholderknowledge Accessmanagement Information System (web-based) Paladin Data Systems – Mukilteo, Washington
    22. 22. How to move forward?•  Design science research methodology •  “If the tool is all there is, the level of knowledge is that of a craft-based discipline” (Gregor and Jones 2007) •  “scientific” approach to technology development •  Kernel social science theories applied to guide problem solving technology•  Information system development methods •  Zachman framework
    23. 23. Information Systems for Solving Wicked Problems Public Information Deliberative Analysis Process Support Collection and Access and Modeling•  City data portals •  Improved methods and models •  Participation technology•  Crowdsourcing systems for •  Focus on transparency and •  Improved understanding of needed information accessibility of assumptions integration of existing tools•  Spatial data infrastructure •  Multiple models •  Process evaluation
    24. 24. Works CitedBranch, Melville Campbell. 1981. Continuous city planning : integrating municipal management and city planning. New York: Wiley.Box, George E.P. "Robustness in the Strategy of Scientific Model Building" (May 1979) in Robustness in Statistics: Proceedings of a Workshop (1979) edited by RL Launer and GN WilkinsonEvans, John, and Joseph Ferreira. 1995. Sharing Spatial Information in an Imperfect World: Interactions Between Technical and Organizaitonal Issues. In Sharing Geographic Information, edited by H. Onsrud and G. Rushton. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers Center for Urban Policy Research.Faga, Barbara. 2006. Designing public consensus : the civic theater of community participation for architects, landscape architects, planners, and urban designers. Hoboken, N.J.: John Wiley.Goodspeed, Robert. 2010. Open Government Strategy for the City of Boston.Harrison, C., B. Eckman, R. Hamilton, P. Hartswick, J. Kalagnanam, J. Paraszczak, and P. Williams. 2010. Foundations for Smarter Cities. IBM Journal of Research and Development 54 (4):1-16.Lee, Douglass B. 1973. Requiem for Large-Scale Models. Journal of the American Planning Association 39 (3):163.Lee, Douglass B. 1994. Retrospective on Large-Scale Urban Models. Journal of the American Planning Association 60 (1):35.Rittel, HWJ, and MM Webber. 1973. Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy sciences 4 (2):155-169.Savas, ES. 1970. Cybernetics in City Hall. Science 168 (3935):1066.Singh, Raj. 2003. Speaking the Same Language: Using XML for Distributed and Collaborative Planning Analysis and Modeling. In ACSP/AESOP.Webb, Eugene J. 2000. Unobtrusive measures. Rev. ed, Sage classics series. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Sage Publications.Wiener, Norbert. 1965. Cybernetics : or, Control and communication in the animal and the machine. 2d ed, The M I T paperback series,. Cambridge, Mass.: M.I.T. Press.
    25. 25. Discussion Robert Goodspeed MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning web.mit.edu/rgoodspe/www/ rob.goodspeed@gmail.com Twitter: @rgoodspeed

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