Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation

From P2P Foundation
Jump to navigation Jump to search

* Book: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation. edited by Brett Goldstein with Lauren Dyson. Code for America Press,



The data-driven city

Evgeny Morozov:

"an essay on the “data-driven city,” by Michael Flowers, the former chief analytics officer of New York City, which appears in “Beyond Transparency: Open Data and the Future of Civic Innovation,” a recent collection of essays (published, tellingly, by the Code for America Press), edited by Brett Goldstein with Lauren Dyson. Flowers suggests that real-time data analysis is allowing city agencies to operate in a cybernetic manner. Consider the allocation of building inspectors in a city like New York. If the city authorities know which buildings have caught fire in the past and if they have a deep profile for each such building—if, for example, they know that such buildings usually feature illegal conversions, and their owners are behind on paying property taxes or have a history of mortgage foreclosures—they can predict which buildings are likely to catch fire in the future and decide where inspectors should go first. The appeal of this approach to bureaucrats is fairly obvious: like Beer’s central planners, they can be effective while remaining ignorant of the causal mechanisms at play." (

Algorithmic Regulation

Evgeny Morozov:

"In another contribution to “Beyond Transparency,” the technology publisher and investor Tim O’Reilly, one of Silicon Valley’s in-house intellectuals, celebrates a new mode of governance that he calls “algorithmic regulation.” The aim is to replace rigid rules issued by out-of-touch politicians with fluid and personalized feedback loops generated by gadget-wielding customers. Reputation becomes the new regulation: why pass laws banning taxi-drivers from dumping sandwich wrappers on the back seat if the market can quickly punish such behavior with a one-star rating? It’s a far cry from Beer’s socialist utopia, but it relies on the same cybernetic principle: collect as much relevant data from as many sources as possible, analyze them in real time, and make an optimal decision based on the current circumstances rather than on some idealized projection. All that’s needed is a set of fibreglass swivel chairs." ((