Cities Can't Afford To Be 'Data Poor'

Fundamentally, we are at a critical turning point in terms of how we think about data and how we use data for governments and cities as well as businesses and other institutions.

1 minute read

November 28, 2016, 12:00 PM PST

By PabloValerio @pabl0valerio

Susan Etlinger, an analyst for the Altimeter group, TED speaker and Big Data guru, gave a much darker view of A.I. and Big Data in an interview to Cities of the Future, during the Smart Cities World Congress in Barcelona.

Susan Etlinger

She talked about recent U.S. presidential elections and the use of Big Data and surveillance:

"[...]suddenly we’ve gone from a government where we had an understanding, a general understanding, particularly after Snowden, of how data was used, to big questions,” she said. “Fundamentally, we are at a critical turning point in terms of how we think about data, and how we use data both for governments and cities, and also for businesses and other institutions.

"There is this sort of assumption that mathematics is inherently neutral. And, in the world of data science, nothing can be further from the truth," she says.

Because of that: “Obviously the US news media, as an example, is full of conspiracy theories right now. The reality is [AI] is an incredibly powerful technology, even more because it is very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to go back and understand exactly what happens in an algorithm, and AI.[...] It could be potentially a very scary time. Some people in the US are talking about ‘living in a post-facts society.’ That is a real danger.

Saturday, November 26, 2016 in Cities of the Future

Large historic homes and white picket fences line a street.

The End of Single-Family Zoning in Arlington County, Virginia

Arlington County is the latest jurisdiction in the country to effectively end single-family zoning.

March 23, 2023 - The Washington Post

Buses in downtown Seattle on the dedicated 3rd Avenue bus lanes

Seattle Bus Lane Cameras Capture Over 100,000 Violations

An automated traffic enforcement pilot program caught drivers illegally using transit lanes more than 110,000 times in less than a year.

March 28, 2023 - Axios

Amtrak Acela Express train passing through Harrison station in Newark, New Jersey

‘Train Daddy’ Andy Byford to Oversee Amtrak’s High-Speed Rail Efforts

Byford, who formerly ran NYC Transit and Transport for London, could bring renewed vigor to the agency’s plans to expand regional rail in the United States.

March 28, 2023 - StreetsBlog NYC

A row of Victorian homes in San Francisco, California

San Francisco Rents Cheaper Now Than in 2020

Though ‘cheap’ is a relative term.

March 30 - San Francisco Examiner

25 mph speed limit sign partially obscured by red and orange fall leaves

Study: Seattle’s Lower Speed Limits Reduced Crash Injuries

A change in the city’s speed limits has been shown to reduce the likelihood of injuries during collisions.

March 30 - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Couple embracing happily in front of home with "SOLD" sign

Millennials Now Majority Homeowners

Just over half of people in the ‘Y’ generation now own homes, but the largest generation also continues to dominate the rental market.

March 30 - RentCafé

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

HUD’s 2023 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.