Jeanne Holm, Senior Tech to the Mayor and Deputy CIO, City of Los Angeles, reviewed some of the smart city and information technology developments in Los Angeles. (This is an update of her keynote speech at Internet Librarian 2017.)
Information is rampant. Every minute we are subjected to a deluge of it.
How do we make sure that people are getting appropriate and secure information? Online games like SimCity help us envision the future and what people’s roles can be. We must give people power through knowledge and balance that with privacy considerations. We have amazing tools to do the digital transformation.
LA has 4 million people and covers over 500 square miles. 25% of the residents are below the poverty line. We need to give them the opportunity for education to improve the quality of their life.
Geospatial information can be used to create digital data. It is used in a smart city initiative. What are we getting out of it? There are a lot of sensors around the city of LA. Smartphones are watching the traffic; LA is no. 1 in congestion. We are giving up our privacy for convenience of finding out information. Devices are in public, but they count numbers and understand traffic patterns. They do not collect personal information. For example, they can detect a person crossing the street in a wheelchair and give them more time to get across. We are looking at how technology can help the aging population. The criteria for being independent involves a person’s desire for independence.
Libraries are becoming the central point of resources. Using open data provides information about government, traffic, services, etc. MyLA 311 systems let people contact government and submit service requests.
This service gets about 6.1 million calls a year and gives 24-48 hours response. Open data is used to find where vulnerable populations are in case of wildfires, floods, earthquakes, etc. Earthquake sensors can give people a minute or so of advance warning on their cell phones, which helps remove uncertainty and fright. Autonomous vehicles give independence and receive information, but surprisingly for LA, many people don’t own cars.
We support the Paris Climate Agreement goals to keep greenhouses gases down.
Smog days are now less frequent and the city is much cleaner.
Artificial agents like Alexa are empowering devices for people, especially for aged people (Alexa has become a new best friend for many seniors!), but we must balance AI with the human touch. “Officer Chip” is a chatbot in City Hall to interact with people and give quick answers to questions.
There is a growing need for connections in some areas of the city, and libraries are an important part of providing them. In poorer areas, home connections are dropping. Libraries can provide connectivity, access, and literacy. Telecom companies are a large part of this strategy. Computer giveaway programs are also helping large parts of the population. Libraries provide training programs to teach people how to use these computers. Tech2Go systems let users check out a computer and wi-fi hotspot and get a month of internet service.
In LA’s “Every child ready to read” program, on the first day of kindergarten every child gets a library card and learns its power. LA Makerspace programs are partners with non-profits to let kids to create things and help demystify science and engineering. 781 workshops have been held and 15,000 kids have gone through the program. FindYourFuture is a user-friendly program to connect people with the knowledge they need to help them find a career.. LA College Promise gives students the perception that they can afford college; they can get 2 years free in a community college, so they can get their AA degree. The Federal Crowdsourcing and citizen science toolkit to let people connect with science programs in the government and helps them get access to education and digital literacy. The goal is to end poverty everywhere, and libraries are at the central part of the effort. Access to information empowers people to make better decisions.