The Sidewalk Weekly: what we're thinking, doing, and reading about the future of cities.
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27 Jan 2017

The best healthcare technology is "invisible" — freeing up care workers to connect with patients. That was the message from Manmeet Kaur (above), founder of City Health Works, and echoed by the other participants at our Sidewalk Talk: Healthcare event on the role of data and technology in improving urban care delivery.

Researcher Lauren Taylor of Harvard Business School made the case that integrating healthcare and social services can lead to reduced costs and improved patient outcomes. Data analyst Aaron Truchil of the Camden Coalition described how cross-sector data helps identify at-risk patients and deliver more proactive care. And Manmeet argued that while technology is essential to scale community-level primary care, it operates best behind the scenes, enabling health coaches to build relationships with patients and relay insights to clinicians.

The future of federal healthcare policy in the U.S. may be uncertain, but there's plenty of innovation happening at the local level. Thanks to everyone who joined the conversation. We'll post video soon for those who couldn't make it. For now, more preventive links:

  • Weaving Whole-Person Health Throughout An Accountable Care Framework: The Social ACO (Health Affairs)
  • A bipartisan federal healthcare agenda should include "interoperable data" (New England Journal of Medicine)
  • Sorry, Wal-Mart. Amazon Wants Your Food Stamp Customers As Well (Bloomberg)
  • If Obamacare Dies, Cities Will Feel It (CityLab)
  • Who Will Care for the Caregivers? (NYT)
(Image: Sidewalk Labs)

What we're thinking

Urban optimist: At a moment of general pessimism, Sidewalk CEO Dan Doctoroff sees a "powerful case" for urban optimism (Deloitte Review). "I think that we’re actually on the threshold of a rare era of technological innovation in cities that has the potential to fundamentally alter quality of life across almost every dimension," he says. Other highlights from this wide-ranging Q&A:
  • "Ultimately, it is important to remember that the benefits are not about technology but, rather, better quality of life. The technology is an enabler."
  • "If cities experiment enough, in partnership with the private sector, you’re going to see innovation flower and spread around the world."
  • "... initially you don’t need an idea to be successful in every city. Instead, you need to make something a success in one city. Once it is proven to be successful there, other cities are far more likely to adopt the idea."
Millennial pessimist: In a widely shared piece this week, The Upshot warns that "cities may start running out of millennials," and that the popularity of urban living might decline as a result (NYT). That highly clickable premise is also deeply flawed: America's urban revival began well before Millennials came of age, and the best data suggest that young college graduates still migrate into city centers in large numbers. A city with fewer Millennials might actually sound appealing to some folks, but it's not going to happen anytime soon.
  • Counterpoint: Flood tide, not ebb tide, for young adults in cities (City Observatory)

What we're doing

Transportation innovation: The 16 cities in Transportation for America's Smart City Collaborative, sponsored by Sidewalk Labs, took the next step toward embracing their role as labs of innovation during their second meeting earlier this month. Reps from member cities heard from folks involved in pilots around the country — Uber in Pittsburgh, driverless shuttles in Contra Costa, and on-demand transit in Oakland — and started to explore the big questions around how to measure pilot success. T4A has more details at its blog.
  • ICYMI: The transformative potential of real-time transportation coordination (Sidewalk Talk)

What we're reading

More health-tech reads: Blame Technology, Not Longer Life Spans, for Health Spending Increases (NYT). Machine Vision Helps Spot New Drug Treatments (Tech Review). Why an MIT robot is collecting poop from our sewers (Boston Globe). The baby MRI: shrinking tech to help save newborn lives (Mosaic). We need more consumer-centric healthcare (AVC).
Uncanny Valley: What happens when computers stop shrinking? (The Guardian). How Silicon Valley Utopianism Brought You the Trump Presidency (Wired). What SV can expect under Trump (Recode). Can Politics Be Debugged? (CoDesign). Doomsday prep for the super-rich (New Yorker). Universal Basic Income: Debating sticks and carrots (CityMinded).
Moving on: When Their Shifts End, Uber Drivers Set Up Camp in Parking Lots (Bloomberg). Is SF Over-Reacting to Bluegogo? (Streetsblog). Trump Infra Plan: What Would “Buy American, Hire American” Really Entail? (Eno). Setting Expectations for Mobility as a Service (Planetizen). GM, Mastercard Want Your Car to Pick Up the Tab for That Latte (Quint). Conan on AVs (Jalopnik).
Data exchange: Report: Measuring the Privacy Benefits of Privacy Threats (Brookings). Can we rely on government data in the Trump era? (WaPo). The Public Data Layer (Nick Grossman). A New Resource on Creating Public Value by Exchanging Data (GovLab). For Civic Tech, Hope and Fear in the Age of Trump (GovTech). The Swedish Kings of Cyberwar (NY Review of Books).
New developments: America's most ambitious land-use planning is happening in ... Utah (Politico). Building to the Sky, With a Plan for Rising Waters (NYT). Unlearning the lessons of the housing crisis (Curbed). Study: What Have We Learned About the Causes of Recent Gentrification? (Cityscape). Gentrification Has Virtually No Effect on Homeowners (Richard Florida).
Long: How Uber and Airbnb Fought City Hall, Won Over the People, Outlasted Rivals, and Figured Out the Sharing Economy (Bloomberg).
List: 7 Podcasts Urbanists Should Be Listening to Now (Next City)
"Wireless connectivity is the glue that holds everything together, and the bottom line is to improve the quality of life in cities and quality of the planet."
— Narayan B. Madayam, Rutgers University (Futurism)
Copyright © 2016 Sidewalk Labs, All rights reserved.
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