The Future Communities Initiative


Future Communities Initiative Banner Image

Big Data and the rapid proliferation of new technologies are poised to transform and disrupt traditional policy making and planning within our local communities and across the Southern California region as a whole. Through improvements in data collection, analysis, and technology, governments have the opportunity to be more efficient, innovative and transparent.

To ensure that public agencies in Southern California not only keep up with the pace of innovation, but lead the nation, SCAG organized the Open Data/Big Data – Smart and Connected SCAG Region Committee in 2017. The committee discussed issues related to data and technology and how SCAG could play a role in supporting local governments by providing resources and supporting data tools. Through a survey of local jurisdictions, SCAG found an overall lack of capacity across the region for instituting new technology and data solutions. Nearly 75 percent of respondents lacked the financial resources to support data and technology projects, and indicated that they did not have sufficient staff resources to implement these projects.

To address these needs, the Open Data/Big Data – Smart and Connected SCAG Region Committee issued a report of policy and strategy recommendations called the Future Communities Initiative. The Future Communities Initiative is an outgrowth of this report and includes the following activities:

  • Development of a visionary Regional Data Platform, which will serve as a clearinghouse of demographic, economic, land-use and transportation data while providing technical resources for in-depth analysis locally and regionally. This GIS-based tool will allow member cities to easily update their General Plan data and share this information to their communities for input.

  • Continuation of the Policy Lab which supports research and data analysis projects in partnership with university and partner agencies on selected subjects using SCAG’s data.

  • Implementation of the Future Communities Pilot Program to support the deployment of new and smart technologies.

  • The general hosting of workshops and events to showcase research, data tools and lessons learned.

  • Additionally, SCAG continues to research future emerging trends and technologies to inform our region and member agencies, as well as support the Emerging Technologies Committee.


Policy Lab

Future Communities Initiative group photo

The Future Communities Policy Lab is focused on testing and promoting new approaches and partnerships for utilizing data and analytic platforms to improve regional and local planning. Through the Policy Lab, SCAG aims to illustrate and help member agencies apply new methods for visualizing, dashboarding and interpreting regional datasets alone or in combination with private, crowdsourced or open data platforms to understand complex policy issues. This has included fostering research opportunities on common issues through the SCAG/City of Los Angeles Data Science Federation. SCAG also collaborates with the County of Los Angeles and City of Los Angeles to increase data-oriented skills and know-how amongst public sector practitioners through the award winning Data & Donuts monthly series.


Future Communities Pilot Program

In 2018, SCAG and the Mobile Source Air Pollution Reduction Committee (MSRC) made available a new $2.7 million grant opportunity that would allow local cities and counties to implement new technology and data solutions, while also reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and implementing SCAG’s 2016 Regional Transportation Plan/Sustainable Communities Strategy. Examples of VMT reducing projects considered include fleet telematics, Internet of Things applications, route optimization and Mobility as a Service pilots.

The goals of the Future Communities Pilot Program are to:

  • Apply new technologies and data analytics to test innovative approaches for reducing emissions-producing VMT from local travel and municipal operations.

  • Explore opportunities for data analytics and technology projects in a variety of contexts/communities, including projects that support and engage disadvantaged communities.

  • Improve efficiency and reduce the costs of city and county municipal services.

  • Identify and quantify relative impacts of a variety of technology-based VMT reduction strategies.

  • Promote replicable pilot projects that support new policy development, improve processes for government service provision, and pilot innovative engagement practices with private sector mobility providers.

On Feb. 7, 2019, the Regional Council approved awards to the following jurisdictions:

  • City of Cerritos Remote Services Enhancement Project — $211,000
  • City of Glendale Route Optimization & Fleet Telematics — $76,813
  • City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation Measuring VMT Reduction from Shared Mobility Services through Real-Time Data — $500,000
  • City of Monrovia Evaluate Alternative Strategies to Optimize the GoMonrovia Program — $500,000
  • City of Anaheim Smart Center City – Parking Guidance and Mobile App Integration — $197,000
  • City of Riverside Integrated Electronic Plans Solution — $499,700
  • County of San Bernardino Remote Electronic Warrants — $297,242
  • City of Ontario Smart City Rapid Validation Hub — $418,200

Upon completion of the implementation pilots, SCAG will conduct analysis of program effectiveness and use the results to promote replication of best practices and policy development to facilitate wide-scale adoption of the most promising strategies.