Data is top of mind for leaders in almost every sector. Higher education officials find it useful to elevate retention. Businesses use it to track trends. Government officials use data to deliver more effective services to residents and streamline government resources. But, it turns out smart cities might also be effective at making smarter K–12 school districts.
At the first Smart Cities conference earlier this year, experts turned their talk of city innovation to how these technology-powered changes will affect the ways schools and communities work together, EdSurge reports.
One example of this interaction is Chicago’s Array of Things (AoT) project that has installed data-collection sensors around the city. While a lot of the data the city has collected will spur higher education research, Brenna Berman, the former chief innovation officer for Chicago, says AoT research has sparked innovation in K–12 schools.
EdSurge reports that high school students have created their own versions of the AoT devices to collect data and compare it to what the city has collected.
“It’s an open-source instrument, so anyone can go and build one,” says Berman in the article. “Students use this as a way within the curriculum both to increase the [science, technology, education and math] skills they are learning — and what they know about their community based on that data.”
Outside of sparking curiosity, Berman also says that AoT data dealing with wind patterns has enabled schools to restructure operations to help decrease the rate of student asthma attacks and therefore reduce absences.
In New York City, EdSurge reports that officials are examining public transportation data to see how students are using buses and relay that information to parents for more efficient drop-offs and pick-ups.
“We want to get a little smarter about how students use the services every day and how to customize for those students,” says Timothy Calabrese, the manager of business intelligence for the NYC Department of Education, in the article.
City-School Data Sharing Makes Improving Outcomes Easier
For cash-strapped school districts, partnering with the community is sometimes the only way they can leverage data to improve student experiences.
One such data-sharing agreement in Nashville, Tenn., has helped Metro Nashville Public Schools improve students’ reading skills. By looking at data on which types of after-school initiatives are effective, educators were able to alter the programs’ curricula to support better outcomes.
Fresno (Calif.) Unified School District was able to optimize its budget to support the kinds of services that its students need the most, but only thanks to a partnership with the city.
“The problems out there are enormous and too large for any one entity to tackle on its own,” says David Jansen, manager of application development for FUSD, in a Data Quality Campaign report.