News and Updates

 

Interview with Leiden Centre of Data Science on Policy & Big Data

My interview with the Leiden Centre of Data Science (LCDS) is now online (English version/ Dutch version). I talk about government & data as well as current research projects and collaborations. Thank you to Jessie van den Broek for posing great questions!

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New Chapter on Food Security and Sustainability

As part of the book 'Advances in Food Security and Sustainability, Volume 2' edited by David Barling, my colleagues Gerard Breeman, Dovile Rimkute and I published a chapter on "Food Security and the Sustainability of GMOs in the United States and the European Union". The book can be found here

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Interview with the Data for Policy Team on the Conference

My thoughts on the niche that the Data for Policy conference fills when it comes to work at the intersection of public policy and data science research. 

Special Issue Call on "Big Data Applications in Governance and Policy" launched

Dr. Reuben Ng (Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, NUS) and I have launched a special issue call on "Big Data Applications in Governance and Policy", which will be published in the Journal Politics and Governance next year. Details on the call can be found here.

We invite contributions on the topic of big data applications in governance and policy. The main research question guiding this issue is ‘how has big data shaped data governance, policymaking and practice’? Big data has taken shape in various theoretical and practical forms when it comes to policymaking. In this larger context, we focus on two major themes: First, the governance of big data, and second, the way that big data information enters the policy cycle and thereby contributes or challenges policy development and implementation. The first theme builds on a large set of literature focusing on e-government and digital public service delivery. This includes aspects of moving towards digital service delivery from a civil servant, but also from a citizen perspective. The second theme relates to the literature on evidence-based policymaking, public administration, and the question what role data as evidence plays. This focuses on topics that have been raised within this context regarding the weight that is given to data as one type of evidence and at what point of the policy cycle this type of information enters the policymaking process. Looking at these two themes, we seek to unravel the ways that big data impacts governance, policymaking and public administration. Both can be addressed by presenting new theoretical and methodological approaches for analyzing government use of big data in various ways.

We look forward to your submissions!

New Publication: Designing policies in uncertain contexts: Entrepreneurial capacity and the case of the European Emission Trading Scheme

Together with Dr. Ishani Mukherjee, I published a paper in 'Public Policy and Administration' on the role of policy entrepreneurs in the European Commission Trading Scheme. The paper can be found here.

Abstract: The paper focuses on enterprising agents in policy formulation and design by looking at their capacity of dealing with different levels of uncertainty. In climate policy specifically, different degrees and types of uncertainties pose a challenge to policymakers. Policy entrepreneurs and the combination of their analytical, operational and political competences are a relevant component in reducing ambiguity in policy design and translating broad policy goals to operational programmes and specific policy instruments. Using the case of the European Emission Trading Scheme, we suggest that the success of policy entrepreneurs in catalysing policy change is determined by their capacity to work against multiple kinds of uncertainty. This ‘uncertainty mitigating’ capacity on the part of policy entrepreneurs rests significantly on balancing managerial expertise and political acumen. We conclude that entrepreneurial capacity goes beyond current definitions in the literature, involving the balance among analytical, operational and political competences to navigate a politicized policy context.

First Results of READ-Urban Project presented at 'Data for Policy' Conference

We were able to present first results of the READ-Urban Project at the Data for Policy conference. The project is a collaboration among Wessel Kraaij and Jose Miotto (Computer Science, LIACS) and myself (Public Administration) at Leiden University as well as Statistics Netherlands and the Municipality of The Hague. Our discussion paper is available here: https://lnkd.in/gJWYBvw

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Assistant Editor for newly-launched journal 'Policy Design and Practice' (Taylor & Francis)

Policy Design and Practice (PDP)  has one goal: to be the source of the best new ideas for people creating, leading, and transforming policies throughout the world. PDP publishes cutting-edge, authoritative thinking on the key issues facing policy makers and is proud to contribute to better governance across sectors, countries and regions. Policy Design and Practice is about promoting and developing better government through better policy design and implementation. All of us are better off if government leaders and public officials made better decisions and implement them more effectively.

PDP covers a wide range of topics related to policy-making processes across a wide variety of sectors, and across a wide range of governance contexts, from international to local governments. PDP articles are written for practitioners by experts whose authority comes from careful study, analysis, and experience. The ideas presented in these articles can be translated into action and have been tested in the real world of policy-making. PDP articles demonstrate fresh thinking that advances previous knowledge, and whose practical application has been thought through clearly. PDP articles are short (4,000-6,000 words) and jargon-free.

New Publication: 'Big data for policymaking: fad or fasttrack?' 

The paper (open access) published in Policy Sciences has the goal of answering the question whether big data is a fleeting trend or has long-lasting effects on policymaking. Three larger themes in the literature are identified: First, the role that institutional capacity has within government to utilize big data analytics; second, government use of big data analytics in the context of digital public services; and finally, the way that big data information enters the policy cycle, focusing on substantive and procedural policy instruments. Examples from the education, crisis management, environmental and healthcare domain highlight the opportunities and challenges for each of these themes. Exploring the various aspects of big data and policymaking shows that big data is here to stay, but that its utilization by government will take time due to institutional barriers and capacity bottlenecks.

Member of Governance and Data Science Group

The extensive use of electronic communication channels and other devices has opened new possibilities for collecting data on human behavior. This information is sometimes openly accessible, but largely part of administrative registration systems that are not open to the broader public. The data provides challenges for storing, analysis and new uses. The FGGA research group on Governance and Data Science focuses on what we can do (or should not do) with these new possibilities.


New Paper: Trust Dynamics in Innovation Networks: The Chicago Life Science Cluster

This publication in Administration and Society (open access) focuses on trust dynamics in innovation networks. Individuals and organizations within the network play an important role in creating trusting relationships. Using this as a basis, the article explores the dynamics of trust when relationships and positions within the network change. Counter to the expectation that relationships are formalized in this scenario, the article shows that in the Chicago case, trust is layered. The article concludes that third-party sources of information about trustworthiness are strategically established as a layer in the network and that individuals translate past interactions into lasting organizations that can facilitate trust.

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New Paper: Big data analytics for mitigating carbon emissions in smart cities: Opportunities and challenges

The paper published in European Planning Studies (open access) addresses the growing scepticism around big data use in the context of smart cities. Big data is said to transform city governments into being more efficient, effective and evidence-based. However, critics point towards the limited capacity of government to overcome the siloed structure of data storage and manage the diverse stakeholders involved in setting up a data ecosystem. On the basis of this, the paper investigates the challenges city governments face when dealing with big data in the context of carbon emission reduction. Through the lens of the evidence-based policy and policy capacity literature, the cities of Copenhagen (Denmark), London (UK), Malmö (Sweden), Oxford (UK) and Vienna (Austria) are analysed. The cases reveal that the institutional complexity underlying big data integration limits local government capacity to set up data management structures that would allow further utilization of big data and that current solutions focus on local pilot sites and outsourcing of data analytics.


Expert on Complex Problems

Combining different disciplines, Leiden University researchers work together to formulate innovative solutions to societal problems. I am part of a team of experts on complex problems connected to my research in the fields of comparative public policy, environmental policy and regulation, big data and urban innovation. Some phenomena cannot be studied in isolation. They are linked within a chain of cause and effect that spans the whole world. As an example, environmental pollution leads to climate change that causes the worst drought in southern Africa in 112 years. Harvests fail and cattle die of starvation; society becomes disrupted. All this leads to a massive wave of migration. The arrival of refugees fuels simmering discontent in European countries and creates a political earthquake.  It takes a very diverse body of knowledge to be able to reverse these kinds of developments, knowledge ranging from chemistry, biology and environmental sciences to anthropology, political science and public administration. More information can be found here

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Governance and Data Science Group 

To kick off a newly started collaboration between the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS) and the Faculty of Governance and Global Affairs (FGGA), we had a session on Governance and Data Science. The discussion largely evolved around the role of new methods for policymaking and the questions social science poses for computer science research. I gave a presentation entitled 'Big Data for Policymaking: Fad or Fast Track?', looking at some of the big data promises and realities and the challenges of government to incorporate big data tools into the policymaking process. 


Technology & Government 

The expert panel of Kim Grondsma (Ministerie van BZK), Rogier Kleinekoort (Municipality Den Haag), Dr. Jelmer Schalk, (Leiden University, Public Administration) and Dr. Christoph Stettina (Leiden University, LIACS) completed the elective 'ICT in the Public Sector'. We had a lively discussion on three major themes: Leadership & technology-oriented change, technology & public services/ performance and big data and government. In the conversation among the panel members and with students, it became clear that there are structural challenges that governmental levels and departments struggle with to execute and utilize some of the technology available. We also saw that providing public services can hold very different implementation motivations than having a business case in the market. All in all, an interesting debate! 


Civic Apps

Check out my new post on the LSE Impact Blog about Civic Apps!

"...some type of gratification mechanism can make these apps sustainable. These include, for example, gaining support from other citizens for a project proposed to the city (endorsements). There is further a closed feedback loop in the sense that citizens can follow-up on their complaints or projects. These gratification mechanisms need to be linked up with the role of political efficacy in civic engagement in the sense that the more an individual has the sense of personal competence in influencing the political system, the more they will engage."


ICPP Panel on Public Policy and Big Data

Come join our panel on 'The Data/Sensor Revolution and Public Policy' at the International Conference on Public Policy in Singapore (28-20 June).