Big Data and Planning

PAS Report 585

By Kevin Desouza, Kendra Smith

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This is big. Data sets are growing so large and complex that using them is like drinking from a fire hose. Feeling overwhelmed? Help is on the way.

Big data isn't the problem; it's the solution — and this PAS Report shows how to use it. Arizona State University researchers Kevin C. Desouza and Kendra L. Smith have teamed up on a practical guide to channeling the power of big data. Together they look at how planners around the world are turning big data into real answers for smart cities.

Learn how Dublin is gearing up geospatial data to steer traffic. See how Singapore is collecting citizens' selfies to track smog. Discover how Detroit is crowdsourcing creative ideas for its 50-year plan. And find out how the U.S. government is planning to use Yelp to improve its services.

What's the big idea for your community? Read Big Data and Planning for a look at trends and tools you can tap into today.


Executive Summary

About the Authors

Kevin C. Desouza, PhD, is a foundation professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University (ASU). For four years, he served as associate dean for research for the College of Public Service and Community Solutions. He is also a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. Immediately prior to joining ASU, he directed the Metropolitan Institute in the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and served as an associate professor at the School of Public and International Affairs at Virginia Tech. From 2005 to 2011, he was on the faculty of the University of Washington (UW) Information School and held adjunct appointments in the College of Engineering and in the Daniel J. Evans School of Public Policy and Governance. At UW, he co-founded and directed the Institute for Innovation in Information Management (I3M); founded the Institute for National Security Education and Research, an interdisciplinary, university-wide initiative in August 2006 and served as its director until February 2008; and was an affiliate faculty member of the Center for American Politics and Public Policy.

Kendra L. Smith, PhD, serves as a policy analyst at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy at Arizona State University (ASU). Previously, she served as a post-doctoral scholar in the College of Public Service & Community Solutions and research fellow in the Center of Urban Innovation at ASU. She is interested in a wide range of public sector issues, such as innovation, citizen engagement, urban planning, and technology adoption, as well as how the public and private sectors can develop mutually beneficial partnerships to enhance innovation, efficiency, and effectiveness for society. She understands the need for utility and real-world applications for public sector research and seeks to place solutions directly in the hands of public administrators through publications, consultation, and advisement. Her work has been featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review, Governing, and Public Management (PM) as well as on NPR and through the Brookings Institution.

Product Details

Page Count
Date Published
Dec. 5, 2016
Adobe PDF
American Planning Association

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Chapter 1. Introduction
Planning in the Era of Big Data
Appreciating the Complexity in Planning
This Report

Chapter 2. Big Data and Analytics: The Basics
What Is Big Data?
What Is Analytics?
The Internet of Things: Opportunities for More Data
Going Forward

Chapter 3. An Overview of Analytical Approaches
Tapping into Open-Source Tools
Data Mining
Machine Learning
Sentiment Analysis
Geographic Information Systems
Network Analysis
Agent-Based Modeling
Building Information Modeling

Chapter 4. A Framework for Leveraging Big Data Through Analytics
Phase 1: Management of Data Sources
Phase 2: Information through Analytics
Phase 3: Interpretation of Analytical Outputs
Phase 4: Design and Implementation of Evidence-Driven Policy

Chapter 5. The Future of Big Data and Planning