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

Camden, New Jersey, is home to the Camden Coalition, which pioneered a “hotspotting” approach to healthcare — deploying care workers into neighborhoods to help complex patients get the services they need. Such efforts are just one example of how data and digital technology can help improve urban care. At a critical moment in U.S. health policy, come hear Aaron Truchil of the Camden Coalition, along with health author and researcher Lauren A. Taylor of Harvard Business School and Manmeet Kaur of City Health Works, discuss the future of city care at our next Sidewalk Talk event on January 25 (6-8:30 PM). Space is limited so please apply for an invitation using this Google Form. We'll post video after the event so those who can't join can still follow the conversation. A healthy dose of links:
  • Atul Gawande: The Heroism of Incremental Care (New Yorker)
  • Can These Tech Veterans Make A Fringe Health Care Model Scale? (Fast Company)
  • Survey: More Americans say government should ensure health care coverage (Pew)
  • ICYMI: The Way to Healthier Cities Goes Beyond Healthcare (Sidewalk Talk)

What we're thinking

The hopeful transfer of digital power: "Barack Obama was a president who understood not only how technology could transform the way government services worked, but also technology itself." That's Steven Levy in a long piece on the U.S. Digital Service's future in the Trump era (Backchannel). USDS helped veterans process claims, helped people find tax information, helped families gain health insurance — in short, it improved the way all Americans accessed government services. Public agencies at all levels of government have finally started to deliver better services using data. Let's hope the USDS not only has a future, but a bright one.
  • ICYMI: The untapped power of data to reinvent city services (Sidewalk Talk)
Data driven: Splashy new infrastructure wins headlines. Routine maintenance doesn't — despite often being a better investment. That political reality can lead local government to build new roads instead of fixing crumbling ones. In a Sidewalk Talk post, Kevin Webb argues that new forms of real-time digital coordination can help people make better use of existing infrastructure and help cities improve access for all. More concrete links:
  • American infrastructure projects often cost 5-6 times what they cost in other developed countries. Can we learn to be thriftier? (New Yorker)
  • Economists chip away at Trump's infrastructure plan (WaPo)

What we're doing

The big M: Roughly a year after the launch of LinkNYC, more than 1 million people now use the high-speed Wi-Fi system ( Link crossed that threshold with a reported 537 sidewalk kiosks installed to date — a fraction of the 7,500 that eventually will appear across the city. Several million New Yorkers are on the wrong side of the digital divide, but that gap is closing by the day. More connected links:
  • Five years since Google Fiber came to town, Kansas City is a tech hub on the rise (Curbed)
  • SF’s model for citywide gigabit-speed internet service could come by June (SF Examiner)
  • San Jose Tackles the Challenge of Digital Equity (San Jose Inside)
  • One Indian State’s Grand Plan to Get 23 Million People Online (Wired)
  • The winner of the NYC BigApps 2017 competition will be eligible to be piloted on LinkNYC kiosks across the city. (BigApps)

What we're reading

Hot off the press: How Much Warmer Was Your City in 2016? (NYT). How a design competition changed the US approach to disaster response (Guardian). The Hermit Who Inadvertently Shaped Climate-Change Science (The Atlantic). It’s Time to Stand Up for the Climate, and for Civilization (Wired). Study: Urban density's impacts on building energy use through 2050 (PNAS).
Street smarts: Lyft's "really simple" solution to traffic: smart lanes (Medium). The Yellow Cab Is for Many a Thing of the Past (NYT). Autonomous Cars Are Still "Teen Drivers" (SciAm). 'Robot Lawyer' Fights Against Parking Tickets (NPR). X-Ray Your City's Street Network With a Bit of Code (CityLab). NHTSA’s investigation into Tesla’s Autopilot shows 40% crash reduction (TechCrunch).
City centered: How the place you live informs how you’ll respond to Trump’s presidency (Curbed). Trump's agenda is a problem, and opportunity, for many big-city mayors (Politico). The four biggest policy-relevant trends in urban life since 2014 (City Observatory). Diverse Metros Mean Higher Wages For All (CityLab). Trump’s compulsion to link black people and “the inner city” (Vox).
Valley, venture, 'vation: Move Over, Coders—Physicists Will Soon Rule the Valley (Wired). Design expert Don Norman on what Apple, Google, and Tesla Get Wrong (CoDesign). These Are the World's Most Innovative Economies (Bloomberg). The Rise of the Professional Airbnb Investor (Priceonomics). One Startup’s Vision to Reinvent the Web for Better Privacy (Tech Review).
Schools, safety, services: Udacity launches deep learning nanodegree program (TechCrunch). Anti-Immigration Rhetoric Fuels Data Concerns Among Schools (EdWeek). E-Book: Addressing the Effects of Tech Change on Constitutional Rights (RAND). An analysis of 62 officer bodycam incidents (BuzzFeed). An NYT attack on food stamps peddled harmful myths (Jacobin).
Long: This Is Your Brain on Poverty: How behavioral economics is opening a creative new front in the fight against inequality. (Pacific Standard)
List: 10 Jobs That Will Be Replaced By Robots (Fast Company)
"A smart city is not just about technology. This misinterpretation has often led cities to make investments that are doomed to fail."
— Abhishek Lodha (McKinsey)
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