Faculty member Dan O’Brien was recently awarded the Dennis Judd Best Book Award by the American Political Science Association Urban and Local Politics Section for his book The Urban Commons: How Data and Technology Can Rebuild Our Communities.
Published in 2018, Dan’s book leverages reports received by Boston’s 311 system to tell the story of how urbanites take care of public spaces and infrastructure. This “custodianship” is apparent as people address both the everyday issues of cracked sidewalks and street light outages, and the more dramatic damage wrought by a hurricane.
The Urban Commons does more than recapitulate a specific research agenda. It communicates the lessons learned in developing the Boston Area Research Initiative (BARI), of which Dan is the director, illustrating the broader potential of urban informatics to transform research and policy in cities. It focuses on the knowledge locked in administrative data and the power of collaboration between academics, policymakers, and practitioners, offering an alternative to the futuristic narratives surrounding “smart cities” that can have greater impact today.
Dan O’Brien is associate faculty for the School and director of BARI, as well as the program director for our Master of Science in Urban Informatics program.