This week, we bring you another edition of #GoodReads shared by the Innovation Teams (i-teams), a cohort of in-house innovation consultants in cities across the United States and Israel that are developing and deploying bold ideas to tackle the biggest issues facing city governments.

The mountain of data that city agencies track and accumulate can be overwhelming, so much so that it becomes effectively meaningless. It’s tricky to figure out the story behind this information, let alone how to use it to improve the way that city governments serve their citizens. Another challenge that i-teams are grappling with is how to build livable places in their cities through creative and unusual means. This week, the i-teams shared #GoodReads on these two critical issues.

Solving the Data Dilemma: 3 Things Cities are Discovering - Lauren Nguyen, Medium

An i-team member in Syracuse, NY shared this reflection:

  • “I really liked this article about how even though there is more and more data available in cities, actually making actionable decisions based on that data is really hard. First you need to know what you want, then you need to get the data in a state that it is usable, then you need to apply proper analysis methods to find the insights that matter. This is a common problem for any organization, public, private, for-profit, or non-profit, and important for cities to consider as a push toward data-driven decision-making is adopted more and more.”

Making data mean more through storytelling - Ben Wellington, TEDxBroadway

A Civic Innovation Fellow from Bennett Midland, the organization that provides technical assistance to the i-teams, had this to say about the video:

  • “Not a read, but this TEDx talk provides great food for thought for all of the cities out there thinking about how to use data to tell a story. The most powerful message is that keeping things SIMPLE is often the best way to make data compelling.”

Creative Communities and Arts-Based Placemaking - Project for Public Spaces

An i-team member from Jerusalem, Israel shared this reflection:

  • “One of Jerusalem’s priority is Economic Development. High quality human capital is leaving the city. One of the reasons that were found is that public spaces are uninviting, underutilized, and unresponsive to community needs. We’re working to improve the municipality’s public space planning efforts in two specific areas: building them playgrounds and developing neighborhood commercial centers. Through these projects we’re mapping how public spaces are currently planned and developed and how these processes could be improved. In May, a PPS (project for public space) workshop was held in the city and we’ve been exposed to the various projects that combine public space and community. We’ve been following their work ever since to get ideas regarding this topic.”

MIT Puts Pedestrians at the Center of Urban Design - Linda Poon, CityLab

An i-team member from Seattle, WA had this to say about the article:

  • “This article explores how people use public spaces. As a part of our initiative to reduce disparities for African American youth in Seattle in the areas of education, employment, and justice, we have been thinking about ways to have youth document how they interact with their environment and to show the regions of the city that they consider "safe areas.” One of the difficulties in coming up with a baseline is that it is difficult to capture good data for the group we are trying to serve. Having the places themselves measure data sounds great, but brings up a number of privacy issues.“