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San Antonio forms 'R&D League' for data-driven decisions

The collaborative research and development programme aims to help the city work in a more agile way and make data-driven decisions.

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The City of San Antonio has formed an ’R&D League’ with Southwest Research Institute (SWRI), The United Services Automobile Association (USAA) and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA).

 

The research and development programme aims to help the city work in a more agile way and make data-driven decisions. It will also expand the research capacity for SwRI, USAA and UTSA, by allowing them to use the city as a ‘living lab’ and making them more competitive for grant funding.

 

Cross-sector teams of academics, engineers, scientists and city staff will start by testing a hypothesis and will provide a report with results, lessons learned and recommended next steps.

 

Cross-sector teams of academics, engineers, scientists and city staff will start by testing a hypothesis and will provide a report with results, lessons learned and recommended next steps.

 

The focus projects for 2020 will be:

  • Sensors on City Vehicles: Working with the city’s Solid Waste Management and Transportation and Capital Improvements departments, the project will collect data on the city’s infrastructure and service needs to help departments address requirements and evaluate whether resources are equitably allocated
  • Neighbourhood Empowerment Zones Impacts Estimator: Working with the Neighbourhood and Housing Services department, the project will build an interactive mapping tool to collect data, determine Neighbourhood Empowerment Zones and track the impact of affordable housing interventions over time
  • Idea Portal: An initiative to design and implement a digital process for the city to collect, explore and evaluate creative ideas and improvements from employees and residents.
  • City Hall to Go: Aimed at identifying when and where department outreach/intake efforts with low-income and harder-to-reach populations overlap, and aligning those efforts so that they can be delivered at a time and place that is convenient for all.
  • ActiveVision: Working with the Transportation and Capital Improvements department to apply artificial intelligence to the city’s existing traffic camera feeds to provide automatic, real-time alerts to city staff when traffic anomalies are detected and need to be addressed.

Using the findings from the above projects and input from SwRI, USAA and UTSA, the city will work to establish a structured R&D programme.

 

The city said that the initiative will allow the flexibility to learn along the way and adapt when necessary. “If an idea is disproven, it helps all partners focus on better solutions. If an idea is successful, it allows the city to make data-informed decisions, scale as appropriate and make thoughtful plans,” a statement said.

 

“The R&D League is a welcome and far-sighted approach that will help San Antonio adapt to our fast-changing world,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “This public/private cooperation is another example of our city’s most valuable asset – teamwork.”

 

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