"Today, with big data and its implications so important to citizenship and society, artists are at the forefront of helping us see and understand data in altogether new ways. And the questions they ask help us process our collective anxiety and fascination with the phenomena of a pervasively instrumented world."
The art of data
As part of the Aspen Ideas Festival's design track, Peter Hirshberg explores the implications of Big Data--and how artists are vital in helping us understand and interpret this phenomena. The Art of Data exhibit is on view in The Resnick Gallery, lower floor of the Doerr-Hosier Center through September 2nd. It can be seen online at www.theartofdata.org.
Ours is the era of pervasive data: we are surrounded by signals and sensors that chronicle everything about our world and our lives. Web and mobile phone usage patterns reveal much about our behavior. Soon practically every device will be a connected device: our cars, fitness monitors, streetlights, and buildings will all participate in the data production economy. This represents a shift in the human condition, a shift in what it means to be human when everything about us can be quantified, measured, analyzed, and nearly permanently stored. All this creates unprecedented economic opportunity, but also new anxieties about privacy, identity and the nature of hyper-quantified humanity. Enter the artist, who has always helped us see the world in new and different ways. New technologies have also reliably led to disruptive advances in art: think what perspective did for the renaissance or how the portable oil tube enabled the impressionists to move outdoors and paint in natural light. So consider what a moment this is for artists as they embrace a new medium: the world of data.
The artists in this show are pioneers in developing the visual language that makes data captivating, expressive and meaningful. They follow in the tradition of filmmakers, photographers and pop artists who embraced new technology throughout the 20th century, and explored the intersection of commercialism and art. These works take us beyond literal data visualization (a staple of science, business and journalism) to help us see the unexpected in data, gain a sense for its cultural meaning, and make the otherwise abstract into an emotional experience. They don’t provide ready answers, but rather ask questions about how data is represented, interpreted and used in society.
UN GLObal Pulse - Understanding big data
On 8 November 2011, the United Nations General Assembly was briefed on the progress of Global Pulse, an innovation initiative of the Secretary-General. The briefing began with an introduction by Andreas Weigend, former Chief Data Scientist for Amazon.com and Peter Hirshberg, former head of Enterprise Marketing for Apple, Inc., who offer a range of examples and visualizations of how Real-Time, or Big Data, can augment and improve decision making in the 21st century.
Rebooting tomorrow pt.2
I encounter this 2 years ago when I co-founded the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, in San Francisco. It’s become a real nexus for digital types, creative storytellers and artists. San Francisco had just opened up hundreds of municipal data sets. We collaborated with Stayman Design to create a show around this. We mad an exhibit of crime data in San Francisco and unfortunately the greatest concentration of crime was right in our location. I thought the community would throw a fit!
Who were we to come in and put up this big display and show where crime is going on? I got completely defensive and really open did not seem like a very goo idea at the time; boy was I wrong. The police came to the exhibit and love it, they we’re saying things like, “Look. I made that arrest.” People started paying attention. Single parents in the community, which the our part of town, the Tenderloin, has the greatest concentration of, were saying “finally someone is paying attention to our problems.” This was electric, suddenly designers, geeks, and urbanists were coming together as much to build urban prototypes, solve problems and get messy with the city as they were creating art. I was completely astounded by the whole thing. The Tenderloin has many problems; one is that it’s really noisy. How would you get people to pay attention to that? Well on another prototyping weekend the folks from Stayman and Orup design firms got together with some artists and deployed sensors in the neighborhood, measured the noise, and shared the visualization with the city; asking no one for permission.
I was at City Hall one day talking to a city supervisor about applications and open data, and how it would change everything. The supervisor looked at me and said, “What are you talking about? Will all of that data get me reelected? Will my constituents like it? Will you help?” I suddenly felt like the IT guy talking to business user who had no idea what I was talking about. I was a victim of Enthusiastic Data Syndrome. I realized from my days in enterprise marketing that it was out job to get the city engaged with us and solve things together, or it wouldn’t work. We had an election coming up and I started wondering what if we actually got the candidates to be coconspirators, to be creators to actually be clients for projects? Could bottom-up innovation be sustainable in the city? We came up with this idea called “The Summer of Smart”, where we would take 16 candidates, run hackathons all summer and see; could we produce sustainable change?
We ran a summer-long set of activities and at the very end the best applications were presented to the candidates and they all sat around debating the best way to implement this stuff. We pitched it as basically the Silicon Valley Innovation Playbook; fast-fail ideation, but applied to the city. If you’re a liberal you loved it because finally it was progressive ideas moving quickly. And if you were conservative you loved it because it was less government and more self-determination. Candidates loved it because it was ideas worth stealing, literally. One of the candidates was complaining to me one day that another candidate had stolen all her good ideas and put them on his website and I thought if we could just come up with enough good ideas and they steal them all, we’re influencing the city.
We had 500 people show up throughout the city; 10,000 hours. It showed there was an enormous amount of cognitive surplus that wanted to work on this, and we see this over and over again. You also see that it's this kind of diverse talent matching a city bureaucrat, up with a non-profit, up with a coder that unleashes this kind of innovation. Here's an example, our head of public works showed up and said, "Where we see public art, we don't see graffiti. Where we see graffiti and blight, it's not very interesting, there's no public art. Could that lead to a solution?" If you were a geek, it was very clear this was a dating app between buildings and artists. They actually went ahead and built that app, and the idea was looking for a business model that actually got picked up by Zero One, an arts organization in San Jose, that launched it as Art Here. They basically said, "Let's take a whole bunch of space in San Jose and use it as a prototype digital campfire, or digital canvas." They have NEA funding and the artists, kind of like the WPA, but in the current world. They actually see this as a platform, or as they would say, an open source project for crowd source urban revitalization, and it’s moving back to San Francisco and onto Palo Alto.
There are instances where you get a candidate that shows up with an app that makes you cry. Dennis Herrera, the City Attorney of San Francisco, was running for mayor and he showed up with the Fire Department App. The basic idea being lets say someone is having a heart attack and by the time 911 arrives it may be too late; but their maybe someone nearby who has CPR training. He learned about this app form Sam Ramon, and they the only city I know of to make a commercial for an application. Remember if you’re a city, don’t make a video about something that’s a bad idea.
(Concluded in Rebooting Tomorrow Pt. 3)
Rebooting Tomorrow pt.3
The Bay Area of course is famous for creating movements. We named this for a previous “summer of…” and it’s that energy from the sixties that still casts a long shadow in San Francisco and I believe it’s different from what we see now. In the sixties we protested the establishment, today we cam simply write to its API. In fact, 81 cities and 34 countries worldwide have opened up to our data. Soon after we did “The Summer of Smart”, the government of Singapore rang up and said, "We are really good at that top-down cities thing, but we're curious about that bottoms-up innovation that's going on there. Could you run what you ran in San Francisco in Singapore?" We've now called it the UP festival, the Urban Prototyping festival. It'll be in Singapore this summer, right as they're opening they're data, culminating at the cities' festival, with 400 mayors. Then it's moving on to Zurich, which is also opening it's data this fall. Our goal is 7 continents in 3 years.
Everything I've talked about so far, all of these innovations are about how to make the city more responsive. I haven't talked a lot about the most visible part of our cities; its buildings and its architecture. Cities themselves are actually now becoming more responsive. The internet spills into the real world, and as any surface can become a display, that responsiveness can become part of how we experience our city. A good example is San Francisco's one of the most digital cities in the world. You wouldn't know it except you saw the big Zynga sign.
At MIT there is a building that is programmable and responsive as art. In Helsinki, that's the power plant, the more power that's used; the more the meter goes up. It's actually a way of using data to feedback, work with, and control the city. There are a number of ways of doing this. Here in San Francisco, a local organization Obscura Digital, has gotten really good at laser mapping buildings and creating wonderful responsive environments where the virtual architecture interacts with the real world. In New York recently, at Grand Central, this Financial Times, we could call it an ad but it's really not an ad, it's sharing global financial data with people. It's not just global financial data; it uses sensors to make that architecture responsive, so they're actually playing a simulation with the building and with that data in real-time, on a wall in New York. I think this is where it's going, and where those of us who care about these things need to bring it.
Yet if you go back to 1939, where I began there was San Francisco lit up and alive; an expression of 20th century urbanism. We think we can make this an expression of 21st century urbanism, but this time, responsive with many more people involved and a native form to San Francisco. New York of course, is famous for Time Square, with is ruthlessly, single-mindedly commercial. We think we can approach it differently. We're a city about data, about play, stories, art, activism, and engagement. Our idea is to treat that a little bit differently, tomorrow I think still remains one of the strongest brands ever. I think there's a new steward in town, and he is us. I think that's the beginning of one of the most exciting stories about cities and how we're working with them that I can think of.
Rebooting Tomorrow pt.1
Peter spoke at the Entertainment Gathering (EG) Conference which is host to the community of the leading innovators of the worlds most creative industries. Peter spoke on the rebuilding of "Tomorrow" as a brand.
Rebooting tomorrow is such an exciting idea, I think tomorrow is one hell of a brand and personally its one I grew up with. Since inevitably tomorrow is in so many of our futures, I’d like to pose the question; just who is the brand steward of tomorrow anyway? I ask this question because its important we find out how the shots are being called and where we fit in. I’d like to start by going back to where tomorrow was young; nobody sold tomorrow like they did in 1939.
The 1939 World's Fair was branded as the world of tomorrow, and was one of the great acts of packaging. It was the birth of modern design, of consumer culture, the source of the visions of new technologies and the cities we live in today. Like everything else in the industrial era our role in tomorrow was that of consumer. Newspapers had their readers, NBC its viewers. GM’s Futurama was a lovely future with no traffic, plenty of automobiles and lots of order. Cities were supposed to be top-down, planned, radiant; none of that messy organic or emergent stuff. We know how that story turned out. Folks drove to the suburbs, urban renewal didn’t yet exist and we started to run out of gas. There as an economical crisis the government was poor, people got cranky about the government and we all ended up here talking about rebooting tomorrow.
“In the middle of all that, there was a growing sense that perhaps the future was more being done to us than being done by us.”
The great urbanist Jan Jacobs really foresaw this when she wrote in 1961; “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when they’re created by everyone.” How do you handle something as complex as a city and assign it to everybody? That would seem like a completely fantastic question unless you happened to live through the last decade. Since the dawn of social media we’ve created more participatory technology than ever in history. We learned how to crowd source, co-create, collaborate, and write encyclopedia’s bottom-up. As the internet spills out into our streets, as sensors and data become pervasive, as we move into the era of smart cities. The essential question becomes can we architect a future where all of those social media and participatory effects follow us in the physical world and give us a new roll in our cities and in government? Put differently its up to us whether the future will look like Robert Moses with LED’s and sensors or more of what Jan Jacobs had in mind.
Like so many things this movement had its start in the Bay Area. Oakland was the first of many cities to start sharing its municipal data. It was citizens in Oakland analyzing this visual data that noticed the prostitution arrests seem to happen once a month from north to south on San Pablo Ave. Citizens brought it to the attention of the police that crimes couldn’t possibly happen like this, but this is what lazy police word does and the police changed their ways. When Japan was faced with a nuclear meltdown caused by the recent earthquake the government couldn’t or wouldn’t tell the public where the radiation was. Top-down intransigents was topple by data; crowd source, citizen created data. Who would’ve thought that something like data would be such an instigator?
I have covered the enterprise side of things, but of course the world of computing has moved on. It moved on to platforms that were useable by all of us, this changed the world of computing forever. The introduction of Steve Jobs’ first product, the Apple II.
I entered the picture during the II days when the question was still “What’s a computer good for?” We knew we had a platform, but what for to use it for. Point being that in a platform you have to learn.
There are early New York Times articles to the extent of “They’re still trying to find uses for it” and even one declaring that the personal computer was “over”.
“You remember when the iPhone was introduced, Apple forgot to make it a development platform. It was only when customers jail broke it and forced them into it that it became a platform again. That’s a real lesson to us.”
In cities you know you have a platform when there are lots of applications, a nurtured development community, and developers who improve based on demand. I emphasize demand because many cities want to open up data and build up application program interfaces. What matters is how many people are using those and are you valuing them because the planning department’s using them to change the way the city works.
Here is an example of the city as a platform idea from San Francisco. Something as mundane as a streetlight. We had an RFP to replace the streetlights of San Francisco. We realized that we were not replacing streetlights with LEDs, but in face we have thousands of terminals that could provide any service. It was general purpose, it was programmable and the question was how could we solve it?
What happened was San Francisco held a challenge with Living Labs Global. The winner Paradox Engineering had a system utilizing a mesh network distributed device that’s going to be, well we did not know what all it can do. We know it will be used for utility meter reading, parking, municipal WiFi, but most importantly we are opening it up to developers and artists at the very same time we are using it.
There is a key idea from social media that I believe applies to the city as a platform. The 1/9/90 Rule; 1% of your audience will blog or make social media, 9% will retweet, and 90% will be the audience. What that means is you can expect a small percentage of the citizens to do amazing things for you. Others will get engaged, and it will benefit the rest of the community. We do this formerly in San Francisco through something called urban prototyping. It’s a way of taking hackathons, incubating ideas, getting the city involved, and actually seeing how citizen-driven things become part of the city government.
In San Francisco we’ve done about 500 participants and 10,000 hours a year in urban prototyping.
“The key thing is when you get citizens involved; you want a range of talent; hardware hackers, software coders, journalists, designers, urban activists, candidates, city bureaucrats, non-profits, and of course artists. There’s something amazing that happens if a city bureaucrat shows up with a journalist and a designer, and in 48 hours come up with an idea.”
We see the citizen-driven content as exercising the platform, telling those of us who are building it how to do a better job and what to do with it. Back to the lighting example, there were a bunch of citizen products. How do you turn lightning into an art form? How can you do LED things that senses you’re crossing the street? Particle indicators that are part of the system. All of these were built as prototypes in San Francisco, and they’re completely helping us inform what we’re doing.
(Concluded in The City as a Platform Pt. 4)
When you have a platform, you will find that the most interesting stuff comes from people you don not expect. For example, in San Francisco we have the real time bus app, a lot of cities do. A bunch of citizens looked at the real time bus app and said, “You know, the people who work in Muni...” We actually had an intern from Muni come in, and she pointed out that within Muni, when they want to understand if a bus is running late or a bus is broken, they use walkie-talkies. They’re not plugged in, they don’t use the data and an intern led program over a weekend built a new system, which is a real time trouble ticket system that will tell you where a Muni bus is broken.
It was the first time that the IT people in the city saw an IT system being built by citizens who basically thought, “It’s stupid not to have one.” The press wrote an article and said, “Citizens build an app over the weekend,” the head of transit wasn’t sure whether to be thrilled or a little bit embarrassed because the citizens did it.
Then we had a debate with all of the mayor candidates. The candidates said, “We love it.” It never got implemented, and nine months later, the New York Times writes an article that says, “San Francisco, king of innovation, can’t implement it.” It took a week for the Chamber of Commerce to fund it, and now it’s become a core system.
The point of this is that you really can rely on this stuff. Now it’s become a major part of how Muni works. We regularly go out to citizens and have them source ideas and figure out what should get built.
If we summarize this, there are a lot of Internet values that are showing up. The point is less that we use the Internet, and more that there is a way of thinking in the Internet world where it’s less planning and more doing. You prototype, you fail quickly and see what works. It’s not a natural first response on the part of cities to think this way, but this is how the whole class of young people and entrepreneurs think, and it’s a real value in contribution.
This whole ethos came out of an interesting moment. In the 1960s, there was a moment when the counter-culture, sex drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, encountered the microprocessor at Stanford University. It was out of that ferment that the personal computer went on this liberation. The PC was about liberating and self-expression. Computing wasn’t about that before. Those same values are with us today. I think one of the fundamental differences is, in the 1960s, we protested the establishment. Today, we write to its application programming interface. That is a fundamental difference.One of the key things that happened in the early computer days is the rest of the computing establishment didn’t take it seriously, didn’t know what hit them, didn’t think it was very serious.
I would like to wrap up by asking the question,
"is it possible that some of the most valuable smart city companies out there, and the things that bring the greatest capital to our cities, may not be coming from smart city companies at all?"
For example, Airbnb, which is a company that allows people to rent out excess rooms in their house. On the one hand, it’s just a utility; yet it was Airbnb during Hurricane Sandy that provided places for people to stay in New York. Now Airbnb has a new feature that lets you discover neighborhoods, and actually gets both locals and non-locals to discover and use other parts of town. If you think about it, this is an entrepreneur who built a business around sharing technology, but it’s really a civic innovation app, because it’s about how to use a city better.
Another example is Waze, a traffic app. It uses crowd-sourcing, so as you drive around, you give Waze permission to know where you are, and that creates traffic information.
On November 3rd in New Jersey we had a really bad hurricane, the state flooded and by that afternoon it became clear that there were five-hour gas lines.
I was scheduled to have lunch in San Francisco with the White House innovation fellow handling energy. He basically said, “Our lunch is interrupted, we have to go figure out where the gas stations are and how people are going to get helped. There’s no power, and we’ve got FEMA, government gas trucks, we don’t know where to send them.” Our first thought was, well, mobile carriers know where you are, because they have all those digital traces. If we could actually look at the AT&T and Verizon traces, map them over gas stations, we could see where the line was going up. The White House had tried that. For two days it was nothing but lawyers and lobbyists, every reason we couldn’t do it.
At about 3:00 in the afternoon, I said, “Well, let’s call up Waze.” They might actually know where the gas stations are. I sent and email to my friend Diana at Waze, basically saying, “The White House’s big headache today is that there are these big gas lanes, the carriers won’t cooperate because of privacy and policy, which brings us to you. The White House and the Energy Department would like to know, do you have enough customers in New Jersey to bring insight here? They need to find out where the gas lines are.”
Now it turned out that by the times Ways looked at this, their customers had already been building the solution. By 10:00 that night they were able to say, 280 gas stations are open, and they were able to use this one resource very strategically.
When we talk about the history of computing you could almost say the history of computing is the story of liberation from closed systems that did one thing to very open systems that enfranchise a lot of people. As the city becomes a platform, there’s a really powerful expression of that there, which is why we are building an architecture that cannot help but drive participation. There is broad-base adoption of technology and a whole youth culture that uses all of this stuff.
That’s why we say when you think about the city as a platform, it’s something that nobody can own, everybody can use, and anyone can improve. When you think of the union between the strategic resources in a city and their vendors that do a lot of the heavy lifting, citizens as both inputs but real users and drivers of the platform, it’s probably a golden era of civic participation.
"The city really is our next great platform."
Meet Mike Flowers, head of the big data skunk-works in New York City. Mike has prevented fires by selecting the right data and making smart decisions. In New York there are about 2,000 fires a year in one to three family apartment buildings and about 20,000+ complaints about these fires annually. Now, the question is how do you focus on them?
Flowers’ team came in and asked the fundamental question, “what’s the best predictor of which of these buildings was going to burn?” Sifting through the data they found that buildings where the landlord had unpaid taxes or faced financial foreclosure proceedings, were at most risk. By taking a look into these two factors together, they were able to get a five-fold increase in finding a violation when they sent an inspector out. Relating to about an eight-fold increase in the ability to prevent injury to a fireman.If you take the stream of complaints and filter them by this data, you’ve transformed how you do building inspections.You’ve proven to the building department, the fire department, the sanitation folks, and the guy in charge of the budget, that this form of predictive analytics is something that they need to pay attention to.
Here is the secret to what Flowers’ did (according to him):
Now that they have established the correct data and have scaled the system to a larger event-based system of real time data in New York, this allows the government to respond in real time and solve problems. Flowers’ team had not done that until they had the basics there. That is what I think a great city technology person looks like.
This is Brett Goldstein, the chief data officer of Chicago. He is a former police officer and former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Open Table. He is trying to unleash a great deal of web analytics in Chicago, by building a system that looks in real time and makes real time decisions in the city. The system would understand the event streams and understand the appropriate course of action. In a way he is building a Ferrari, a very sophisticated instrument, due to his experience I have a lot of trust in his ability to complete the project.
There’s another interesting dynamic going on amongst the top minds in big data. The Chief Technology Officer (CTO) types of the top ten cities get together with the White House and we talk about common problems and what we want to work on. There was a real sense among these people that for things like predictive analytics it all boils down to really understanding your people, customer intimacy and the building of the system. There is a predilection to build it ourselves and not go with vendors. As Brett says, “for a Custom Relationship Management system, I can buy it from a vendor, but I don’t know quite what I’m building yet, and I have to get really close to customers.”
Another city data hero of mine is Rajeev Bhatia of San Francisco. He has used his position in public health to amass hundreds of data indicators in San Francisco, to ask what makes a healthy and sustainable city? He is compiling all sorts of public data by going across departments, trying to understand the health implications of, for example, traffic. If he sees there are many accidents and people are killed somewhere, that is a health response.
“Over a two or three-year period, we tested and evaluated about 300 measures and eventually settled on about 100 measures. A comprehensive, healthy, equitable, sustainable city. This is now called the Sustainable Communities Index.”
So much of this is not about technologies, it’s about influencing people. When he built this sustainability communities index, he stole a page from the environmental index, built this new thing, and now it’s an instrument that’s being shared around the country.
We have all these cities doing different things, the question then is how do scale and collaborate? We live in an interesting moment where hackathons and bottms up systems are being employed similarly in different cities.
In the United States the coordination is often done by Deputy White House CTO Chris Vein. The city as a platform, needs to needs someone to moderate, figure out standards and how people are using them; this is what the White House is doing.
The revolution of big data is being completely led by cities. The White House CTO is there figuring out if there should there be national policy to open up data, privacy and information policy. For example, procurement is very much vested, as we know, with small companies. The White House just came up with something called Easy Procure, which is a way of making it easy for the federal government to procure lower-dollar request for proposals (RFP) very quickly. Cities are now adopting similar policy.
Practical vs. Mechanistic
Remember the Bronx, be practical.
It is not just a bunch of data in a box.
Intimacy vs. Outsourcing
To really understand what is going on you must understand your citizens.
Paying a vendor to undersatnd citizens creates a disconnect.
Winning City Hall Colleagues
It takes one department at a time and people realizing it works for them.
Holistic Data Approaches
Remember Rajeev’s approach that gives a 360 degree view of your city.
Collaboration Across Cities
There’s a great desire to share and build, do not be bashful.
Procurement / Leadership
Get elected officials to pay attention.
Strong leadership can make the difference.
(Cont. in The City as a Platform Pt. 3)
City as a platform
In November 2012 Peter Hirshberg was asked to speak at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona. The event saw over seven thousand visitors from 82 countries (including 3,055 delegates) and 140 exhibiting companies coming together to tackle the challenges that major cities will face in the near future, showcasing the available solutions and exploring business opportunities in this new industry. Peter’s speech focused on the emergence of the city as the next great platform and highlighted the parallels between the evolution of computing and the ever evolving smart city.
It is often said today that cities are the next great platform. We’ve learned a lot from 60 years of computing platforms. I suspect the evolution we’re seeing in the smart cities world is similar to what went on in computing, except sped up and with all pieces in the right same place at once.
In the beginning computers were sold top down, enterprise style; a few vendors to a few customers. It was the era of the mainframe state of mind and it was good. For example the RCA 501, aimed at the executive with an air for facts. If you’re familiar with big data this picture will warm your heart.
Interestingly enough, today’s notion of some off the most mission critical smart city solutions are based on a command and control architecture. The idea is government has to deliver services like public safety and transportation, by gathering enough information in real time to one location so that officials are able to make timely decisions and potentially save lives.
IBM first sold such a massive, real time system in 1958, but not to a city. Back then there was only one customer who could afford it, and fortunately, they had the mother of all public safety problems. SAGE, defense system of the United States Air Force.
It is interesting to pay homage to SAGE. This one project consumed more real dollars than the atomic bomb effort. It was the first real-time system, because it had to be deployed all over the U.S. and Canada, and it really did presage a lot of the things that we have today.
This urge to gather information in a command and control style to run a government ran deep. In 1972, the Chilean government created Cybersyn. The idea they could bring information in, optimize it and then feed it back out. This project was most famous for its production design that looked like a Star Wars set. It worked for a few months and then there was a coup.
Why not stick with a good thing? The solution we saw 50 years ago has really come into full fruition today, and is the basis for some of the most exciting smart cities solutions. The 2012 version of which actually comes from the same vendor, IBM, with the same production design. The heart of the project is found in Rio de Janeiro’s command center. It is here that the 70 operators alternate during different shifts to monitor the city’s operation. Over 400 cameras installed at strategic points supply images that are viewed on this big screen, the largest in Latin America.
In the 1960s, the Rand Corporation in New York tried to use algorithms to optimize where the city would place fire houses. They looked at the occurrence of fires and traffic, the idea being they could reduce both and optimize. Unfortunately, they did not get the right data. The technology people were not close to the operational people in the city, and it had a disastrous result. One of the famous failures in the use of technology in cities; it was predictable in that they lost much of the Bronx.
There is an interesting book that looks at how not to apply big systems to cities. It’s called “The Fires,” and it asks the question of how a computer formula, a big idea, and the best of intentions helped New York City burn down.
In the next post I will contrast that failure with one of the great successes going on today. (Cont. in The City as a Platform Pt. 2)