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The future of governing is in the map, says former US Governor

06 Jun 2017

The future of successful governing is geospatial, the former Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley, has told a recent Business School seminar.

Geospatial analysis refers to the examination of data from a geographical perspective, such as mapping past city crimes to predict and prevent crime where it may be most prevalent.

Governor O’Malley addressed students, staff and government officials at an Institute of Transport and Logistics Studies (ITLS) seminar, ‘Location-Based Analytics for Smarter Planning: Evidence from Maryland’.

This seminar was part of the ITLS Leadership and Policy seminar series hosted by Dr Matthew Beck and Professor Rico Merkert.

“The truth of the matter is there is a better way of governing emerging in the United States, albeit it’s coming up from the cities. It’s about the map, and it’s about the data, and it’s about the method,” said Governor O’Malley.

Governor O’Malley was a 2016 US Democratic presidential candidate, former Governor of Maryland (2007-2015) and former Mayor of Baltimore (1999-2007). During this time, he implemented CityStat and StateStat, schemes which use geospatial data analysis to solve city and state-wide problems.

“There are two technologies that have come together that were not here before,” said Governor O’Malley. “These two technologies are belief space – our ability to model belief space with probabilistic certainty – and the cloud, the ability to uplink individual actions, instantaneously in real time. That changes the model and allows all of us to see what we’re doing, where we’re doing and how we’re doing it.”

“Like so many new technologies, governments oftentimes are the last to embrace it,” added Governor O’Malley.

During his time as governor, public schools in Maryland were ranked above all others in the United States for the first time, health of North America’s largest estuary, which runs through the centre of the state, improved after 350 years of decline, and crime decreased significantly.

Governor O’Malley attributes these successes to the StateStat scheme. The data collected was available to all, meaning Maryland also led the US in government transparency and accountability at the time.

“If the old way of governing was about ideology, command, control, hierarchy, bureaucracy, the new way of governing is all about being entrepreneurial,” said Governor O’Malley.

“It’s all about shared understanding, the emerging truth, and the basis of that truth is the technology that we have never had so readily available to all of us as we do today, and that is spatial intelligence – the map,” he said.

“Almost every big city in America now operates by way of the model we pioneered. That geospatial intelligence enterprise wide and one phone number for all city services,” said Governor O’Malley.