The Future Communities Initiative

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Big Data and the rapid proliferation of new technologies are poised to transform and disrupt traditional policy making and planning within our local communities and across the Southern California region as a whole. Through improvements in data collection, analysis, and technology, governments have the opportunity to be more efficient, innovative and transparent.

To ensure that public agencies in Southern California not only keep up with the pace of innovation, but lead the nation, SCAG organized the Open Data/Big Data – Smart and Connected SCAG Region Committee from March to November 2017. The committee discussed issues related to data and technology and how SCAG could play a role in supporting local governments by providing resources and supporting data tools. Through a survey of local jurisdictions, SCAG found an overall lack of capacity across the region for instituting new technology and data solutions. Nearly 75 percent of respondents lacked the financial resources to support data and technology projects, and indicated that they did not have sufficient staff resources to implement these projects.

To address these needs, the Open Data/Big Data – Smart and Connected SCAG Region Committee issued a report of policy and strategy recommendations called the Future Communities Framework. The Future Communities Initiative is an outgrowth of this report and includes the following activities:

  • Development of a visionary Regional Data Platform, which will serve as a clearinghouse of public sector demographic, land-use and transportation data. This GIS-based tool will allow member cities to easily update their General Plan data and share this information to their communities for input.
  • SCAG will form a Policy Lab that conducts research and data analysis projects in partnership with university and partner agencies on selected subjects using SCAG’s data.
  • SCAG will create a Data Science Fellowship to place young data scientists in local and regional agencies to initiate open data programs, conduct data analysis and accelerate the adoption of new technologies.
  • Provide funding through the Future Communities Pilot Program to support the deployment of new and smart technologies.
  • Host workshops and events to showcase research, data tools and lessons learned.
  • Organize an advisory committee to provide ongoing input on Future Communities Initiative activities.