Very important post – thanks for sharing. You highlighted three important challenges of using data in the public sector that make it fundamentally different from the private sector: (1) dispersion of responsibility, (2) lack of political animus, and (3) term limits for elected officials. This is especially true at the national level — cities are typically much better at providing this type of data given the relatively limited number of stakeholders and centralized police administration.
Another key aspect at play is the lack of incentive to report these statistics on the part of the police forces in question. I’m not suggesting any actors are intentionally misleading the public (although I can’t rule that out either), but it’s quite possible that they view investing in developing tools to provide accurate reporting as a departure from their “operating model,” e.g. that it doesn’t help them do their jobs better. Some even might view the goals of Obama’s Task Force as presidential overreach and an expansion of the regulatory state. Police forces might be further concerned about the misinterpretation or misuse of data.
I think a key next step for those of us who care deeply about the way policing has evolved over time is to work to demonstrate the value of data in this field to all parties — citizens, government, and police. Transparency for transparency’s sake is an effective public argument, but not one that will motivate fundamental behavior change on the part of police. If, for example, policy analysts could demonstrate a link between data collection (and meaningful use within the police department) and officer job satisfaction due to improved police-community relationships, we might see an uptick in reporting.
Thanks for sharing this post. It’s incredibly cool to see what MSKCC is doing in the digital space. I’m also glad you touched on the cost aspect of building EMRs because I think that’s going to be an important consideration in determining the future of health care in the US. Large providers require huge, complex systems to manage their care, even at specialty hospitals like MSKCC that provide a limited set of services. This often requires millions of dollars in external consultant fees both upfront and every time there’s a system upgrade or problem. MSKCC is one of the most respected hospitals in the world and as such is able to take in a ton of resources. Many community hospitals and smaller providers are getting left behind in the digital revolution because they can’t afford the high price of a lot of these innovations.
Thanks for posting this – I love “civic tech” and have even considered it as a career. We’re seeing similar movements in a lot of major cities around the U.S., such as Boston and New York City. I have a couple concerns about this movement that temper my optimism. First, it is *incredibly* important that digital-focused startups in government like these have sufficient autonomy and consistency across administrations. The problem with being part of a political institution is that funding is subject to volatility from shifts in administration. Philadelphia went through a mayoral transition and completely turned over its innovation team within the new mayor’s first 100 days. In addition, there’s a tendency for these digital innovations to be managed by the same people who install IT infrastructure — old-school folks who worry mostly about security and haven’t embraced the true values of the digital revolution: agile, iterative, customer-centric design.
Great post and really cool to see all the cool digital things Macy’s is doing. This might be more of a marketing concern, but I still worry that no one has appropriately figured out how to manage investments in all stages of the customer journey across channels. Online-to-offline conversion is a really difficult marketing analytics challenge for which I didn’t see a ton of great solutions when I was working in digital marketing. Another concern I have about a giant like Macy’s is that while they have a ton of resources to throw at developing technological capabilities, they may not have the nimbleness to iterate on and improve their technology in the way that a small e-commerce company might.
Very interesting post – I had never heard of the Nike Fuelband, and it seems with good reason. I completely agree with your analysis and the comments above dissecting why it failed. I’d note that more generally, wearables are a very difficult space. Analyst estimates about the performance of the Apple Watch are all over the place, and Fitbit’s stock is trading around its lowest level in a year. With that said, we’re evaluating Nike with the benefit of hindsight. Ex-ante, the decision to enter wearables through an in-house solution might have made some strategic sense. Nike has strong in-house product design capabilities, and wearables are as much (if not more) about fashion and comfort as they are about technology. In addition, as you mentioned, Nike had been experimenting with and learning from the Nike+ platform already, so digital fitness wasn’t entirely new to them.
Thanks for writing this post! You hit the nail on the head with your comments about data center energy usage. I think that’s a little-known fact about the technology industry, which everyone assumes to have basically zero overhead. I’m glad that you brought up the potential for using AI to improve the efficiency of operations, because I think that’s an underrated area of potential for tech companies like Google/Alphabet. We’ve already seen with the launch of Nest (despite its limited commercial success) the power of using technology to regulate energy usage in the home or workplace. Savvy consumers are saving a ton of energy cost (and therefore limiting emissions) by allowing technology to automatically regulate temperature. I would like to see greater investment in this space because I think it could be a huge revenue driver for the company if energy regulations get tighter.
Wow, really interesting post. I never thought about the impact of heat-related illness on the NFL’s player pipeline. It’s probably also true that temperature increases present a risk for current players as well, given that not all stadiums and practice facilities are in climate-controlled settings. It’s also great to see proactivity in sustainability of new development, but I just wonder how many new stadiums will actually be built in the near term. I’d love to see the NFL take a stronger stance on making teams think about retrofitting space to meet sustainability goals, reducing power utilization (even at the expense of in-game experience), and improving the sustainability of another one of their huge money-makers and sources of waste: concessions.
Thank you for this extremely important post. Just a couple additional considerations: I think both rising sea levels *and* an increase in extreme weather events like hurricanes and tropical storms pose significant flooding threats for Miami. The city has already had to spend massive sums of money in the past to repair storm damage, and if climate change increases the likelihood of storms, this city may struggle to finance its own operations. The pump system project is incredibly important, and Miami may want to think about innovative financing solutions – potentially a public-private partnership – to implement it if the price tag is too burdensome on its own budget. Regulation on new development is also critical, although it will likely be fought by the real estate community, which may not have the same long-term perspective as the city. Tax incentives for flood safety might be a more feasible route to achieve the same end.
Great post, Ritaroo! I’m in complete agreement with the responders above in that their ability to respond to and prepare for climate change is incredibly impacted by the political process. FEMA may do well to invest a portion of its time to advocacy within government and with local media. Something seems a bit strange about the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Program to me, though, and I worry a bit about its potential effectiveness. CBO tells us that the grants that FEMA makes to states are cost-effective, but if FEMA withholds disaster relief funding from states who haven’t invested in mitigation programs, won’t they then require more funding in the future? And are the grants provided by FEMA truly incremental to investments that states would make on their own? The CBO analysis actually calls out this point of uncertainty in its summary of the cost savings. Hopefully states are making rational trade-offs and won’t end up in the doom loop of withholding short-term funding and handcuffing their own futures. Is every state attacking that problem with the same level of sophistication? I’m not so certain.
Great post! I hadn’t even thought about financial institutions and I had never heard of green bonds. You’re absolutely right that the banking sector is significantly (and uniquely) impacted by the effects of climate change because of its broad exposure to various sectors. I loved that you called attention to the lack of specificity around BoA’s coal policy. It strikes me as more of a PR move than a meaningful sustainability strategy. In the absence of a specific public commitment, BoA is free to change its coal investments in response to current business needs without any repercussions. I also completely agree with your point about adjusting for climate-related risk, but it’s definitely not a trivial step. BoA would start to look a lot more like an insurance company and might need to bring in much more outside expertise in order to nail these models precisely.