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Cities & Information Technology

Research on Cities & Information Technology

Information technology, sensors, and machine learning are being combined in numerous ways that promise to impact the appearance, function, economics, quality of, and access to cities. Digital information can tell people about cities and their infrastructure, be the proprietary product of private investment, and constitute personally identifiable information for public residents of cities. Cities and citizens are increasingly reliant on digital information for public life and civic functions, and yet the internet that serves this information is itself a system of infrastructure, with its own requirements of energy and investment. What methodologies are appropriate to understand the impact of these systems, on cities and the public they serve? What governance systems are appropriate to the multifaceted nature of information technology, for a competitive economy, information security, and the public need for privacy, equity, and inclusion?

The Urban Infrastructure Lab explores these and related lines of enquiry in theoretical papers, empirical studies, and public advisories. We use transaction cost economic approaches to problems of information privacy and security, and develop works that support evidence-based policymaking and institutional design in the US and Europe.

Recent Publications

Jesse Woo, Jan Whittington, and Ronald Arkin. “Urban robots: Achieving autonomy in design and regulation of robots and cities” Connecticut Law Review, Volume 52, 2020, pp. 319-415. Author’s copy:

Meg Young, Luke Rodriguez, Emily Keller, Feiyang Sun, Boyang Sa, Jan Whittington, Bill Howe. “Beyond open vs. closed: Balancing individual privacy and public accountability in data sharing” Proceedings of the Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency (FAT* ‘19), 2019, Atlanta, GA: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), pp. 191-200, url:

Whittington, Jan. “Remembering the Public in the Race to become Smart Cities.” UMKC Law Review, Vol. 85, Issue 4, 2017, pp. 925-930. HeinOnline,

Whittington, Jan, and Ryan Calo, Mike Simon, Jesse Woo, Meg Young, Peter Schmeideskamp. “Push, Pull, and Spill: a Transdisciplinary Case Study in Municipal Open Government.” Berkeley Technology Law Journal, vol. 30, no. 2, 2015, pp. 1899-1966. HeinOnline,

Theodore, Brian, and Jan Whittington, Cara Towle, David Tauben, Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Alex Cahana, Ardith Doorenbos. “Transaction Cost Analysis of In-Clinic versus Telehealth Consultations for Chronic Pain: Preliminary evidence for Rapid and Affordable access to Interdisciplinary Collaborative Consultation.” Pain Medicine, vol. 16, 2015, pp. 1045-1056. Wiley Online Library,

Vitro, Kristen and Jan Whittington. “The Cloud beneath the Clouds”, Planning the Pacific Northwest. Ed. Sterrett, Jill, et al. Chicago, IL: APA Planners Press, 2015. Pages 175-177. Print.

Hoofnagle, Chris Jay and Jan Whittington. “Free: Accounting for the Costs of the Internet’s Most Popular Price.” UCLA Law Review, vol. 61, no. 3, 2014, pp. 606-670. HeinOnline,

Armbruster, Ginger and Jan Whittington, Barbara Endicott-Popovsky. “Strategic Communications Planning for a CISO: Strength in Weak Ties.” The Colloquium for Information Systems Security Education Journal, ed. 2, vol. 1, 2014. pp. 134-139. Print.

Miller, Jeremiah, and Sam Chung, Teresa Escrig, Yan Bai, Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Jan Whittington. “Accuracy, Security, and Architecture Impacts and Challenges of Mobile and Web Technologies: Geolocation Field Data Collection in Washington State Water Resources.” International Journal of Computer Applications, vol. 92, no. 13, 2014, pp. 35-42. IJCA Online,

Arnaudo, Daniel, Philip Wood, Aaron Alva, and Jan Whittington. “The economic and political implications of authoritarian control of the Internet” Critical Infrastructure Protection VII: United Nations, International Federation for Information Processing (IFIP) AICT 417. Ed. Butts, Jonathan and Sujeet Shenoi. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer, 2013. pages 3-20. Print.

Armbruster, Ginger and Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Jan Whittington. “Threats to Municipal Information Systems posed by Aging Infrastructure.” International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection, vol. 6, no. 3-4, 2013, pp. 123-131. ScienceDirect,

Whittington, Jan and Chris Jay Hoofnagle. “Unpacking Privacy’s Price.” North Carolina Law Review, vol. 90, no. 5, 2012, pp. 1327-1370. HeinOnline,

Whittington, Jan. “When to Partner for Public Infrastructure? Transaction Cost Evaluation of Design-Build Delivery.” Journal of the American Planning Association, vol. 78, no. 3, 2012, pp. 269-285. Taylor & Francis Online,

Armbruster, Ginger and Barbara Endicott-Popovsky, Jan Whittington. “Are We Prepared for the Economic Risk resulting from Telecom Hotel Disruptions?” International Journal of Critical Infrastructure Protection, 5(2) 2012: 55-65. ScienceDirect,