Category: Now

January’s RBCDisruptors event, Sidewalk Toronto: The city of the future [password: Sidewalk], is now taking registrations. On the morning of January 17th at the Waterpark Place auditorium, Dan Doctoro , the CEO of Sidewalk Labs, will sit down to talk about how cities can incorporate the immense amount of data citizens generate daily into urban design.

Sidewalk Labs partnered with Waterfront Toronto in 2017 to create Sidewalk Toronto — a living lab for the smart city technologies of the future. Before taking the reigns of Sidewalk Labs, Dan was President and Chief Executive O cer of Bloomberg L.P. until December 2014, and prior to that, served as Deputy Mayor for Economic Development and Rebuilding for the City of New York.

Chicago has launched a new optional identi cation card that serves as a valid ID while also working as a library and transit card – with some extra bene ts related to participating merchants and sports teams still to be announced.

The CityKey — presented through the Once of the City Clerk — was conceived as a way to “reduce barriers to those who have difficulty accessing government-issued identification.” The vision expanded to provide benefits to every citizen through partnerships with cultural and commercial organizations. The number of partnerships is expected to expand through January, a new list announced in February.

Chicago is just the latest in a string of cities to create such a program, including San Francisco, New York, Detroit, and Milwaukee.


Last summer, the Chicago police announced a 39% year-over-year drop in shootings and a 33% reduction in murders in their 7th district for the period between January and July. A large part of the credit, according to police, goes to the use of predictive analytics that enabled law enforcement to anticipate where and when crime would occur and deploy resources and preventive measures accordingly. Other Chicago districts using the algorithms recorded similar declines.

This technology is the subject of a new book, The Rise of Big Data Policing by Columbia Professor of Law, Andrew Guthrie Ferguson. The book examines “how new technologies will alter the who, where, when and how we police. These new technologies also o er data-driven methods to improve police accountability and to remedy the underlying socio-economic risk factors that encourage crime.”

Check out a thorough review of The Rise of Big Data Policing in the LA Review of Books.

Just before the holidays, a blog post from security company FireEye reported a cyber-attack on a “critical infrastructure organization” in an unnamed Middle Eastern city. The Malware used – named TRITON (as it targets the Triconex safety instrumented system) – sought to remotely control industrial safety systems and gain the ability to completely shut down operations. Even more dramatically, FireEye says they believe “the activity is consistent with a nation state preparing for an attack.” A full analysis of the attack and a set of recommendations to prevent the compromise of critical infrastructure can be found in the FireEye report and a separate report by industrial cyber-security rm Dragos.

For a more in-depth look at the security issues the new year brings, check out the 2018 security predictions by 18 of the world’s top security product and service companies.

Next up from the Trump White House is the President’s promised $1 trillion infrastructure plan, expected to be a January release. But cities might not be getting as much as they think.

Trump made news over the holidays by halting the $13 billion Gateway tunnel financing to link New Jersey to Penn Station. It seems the White House didn’t like the proposed fty- fty split the Obama administration was o ering to build the mega-project.

The $1-trillion Trump infrastructure plan is expected to put up $200 billion in federal funds, and seek the other $800 Billion from states, cities and private sector partners. The approach was described earlier as a proposed 20-80 federal to local split, to ensure communities have skin in the game.

For another angle regarding what the plan might mean for cities, check out The Atlantic’s take on how “it might stretch local governments’ already-stretched budgets.”

If you are using AI in your city, and you probably should be, are you sure it doesn’t have a bias you don’t know about? It may be time to call the Algorithm Police.

The New York City Council has introduced a bill to create a task force to address instances where algorithms – or “automated decision systems used by agencies” – may have harmed people unfairly. From Techcrunch, here are some of the questions the task would seek to answer:

“How can people know whether or not they or their circumstances are being assessed algorithmically, and how should they be informed as to that process? Does a given system disproportionately impact certain groups, such as the elderly, immigrants, the disabled, minorities, etc?
If so, what should be done on behalf of an a ected group?
How does a given system function, both in terms of its technical details and in how the city
applies it?
How should these systems and their training data be documented and archived?”

Check out the details of the bill here.

Even before the FCC’s net neutrality repeal, conversations abounded about what options cities had to preserve it.

The Regional Plan Association made recommendations as part of New York-New Jersey-Connecticut Fourth Regional Plan that “state and local government start taking a leadership role in both planning for and investing in internet infrastructure across the three states.

For those wanting to preserve net neutrality, there are nearly two hundred communities that today have public internet services to look to as examples – even if the FCC intends to block regions from passing their own net neutrality rules. We will see whether cities get challenged as the last bastion of net neutrality.

It wouldn’t be the rst time smaller regions fought back. Earlier in the year, 31 counties rejected Colorado Senate Bill 152 – a law prohibiting city-run broadband.

In any event, the issue is a long way from settled.


In a bid to create stronger networks between entrepreneurs and city agencies, San Antonio has announced a new civic engagement program, CivTechSA. The program aims to draw together talent from throughout the tech ecosystem – from junior high to entrepreneurs to skilled tech workers – to put their minds together to address real city challenges that agencies provide to them. The desired results: creative tech solutions for the city, deeper relationships within the tech community, and the serendipity that comes from putting smart people in a room together to work on challenging problems.


MIT has announced the China Future City Lab. Developed with business and government partners, the lab will create living labs in Chinese cities, will include an accelerator (called the MIT-Tsinghua Future City Innovation Connector) for startups, and will support research of urban life in China. The accelerator will be run in partnership with DesignX, the entrepreneurship accelerator for MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning.


Ten miles of new subway track are coming to Long Island, NY, and it won’t be the riders footing the bill at the turnstile – at least not exclusively. At a meeting earlier this month, MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota said that all future projects will account for ‘value capture’ – the nancing of public infrastructure by recovering some of the value it creates for private landowners that bene t from increased public access.

It’s not a new idea. An EY report from 2011 goes into the ways Warsaw’s public transportation service could “acquire additional dedicated resources by considering the contributions of the land value capture methodology,” using a group of funding methods (land value taxation, negotiated exactions, tax increment nancing, special assessments, development impact fees, etc.) to fund infrastructure that results in both net private sector pro t and increased public sector returns.

Want to read more? Check out the American Public Transportation Association’s 2015 policy paper on value capture for public transportation, last year’s value capture bill in Chicago to fund the city’s transportation authority’s projects, or Hong Kong’s use of the financing for its transportation infrastructure.