Civic leaders have more data than ever

to guide their decisions, but the tech is not in charge


Constantine Kontokosta's work on urban informatics is discussed in Toronto Star.

New York University planning and urban analytics expert Constantine Kontokosta offers another caution. Trash bin sensors designed to monitor when a container needs emptying could, in theory, provide data that lets city officials apply algorithms to optimize collection routes by using GPS mapping tools to direct trucks only to full bins, thus saving money on fuel and labour. However, in a 2018 paper, Kontokosta writes that such analysis might conflict with other municipal policies, such as the need to abide by collective agreements. “The computing challenges are solvable,” he notes. “(T)he real uncertainty lies with how to integrate data-driven processes into public sector management.”

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