For all its effectiveness in processing huge amounts of archived information, data science is well-served by real-time, real-world inputs that adds a necessary ‘ground truth’ component that anchors the decision process in reality.

The City of Waco, Texas has launched a S67 million experiment in ‘ground truth’ data collection with its deployment of the Premise app that uses direct observation in combination with machine learning and other data science techniques to empower decision makers with real-time actionable insights.

For more on how the Premise app promises “to speed up the pace of innovation and responsiveness of cities,” here is an excerpt from a report filed on PRNewswire:

The City is interested in gauging public sentiment to inform its operations, including the Prosper Waco initiatives aimed at measurably improving health, education, and financial security for all members of the community. Data collected will be used to identify and quantify community challenges, establish measurable goals, and monitor progress against those goals.

Already, hundreds of network contributors have installed the Premise app (available on Android and Apple smartphone devices) and in just the first month have collectively produced over 2,000 submissions in the form of survey questions, completion of tasks throughout the City, and by taking pictures to report issues such as potholes, park conditions, and littering. Geolocation technology allows Premise to assign tasks to collect information at precise locations or to follow predetermined paths as they complete assignments.

“We want to hear directly from our community about the issues and concerns that affect their daily lives. What better way to engage people than on the mobile devices they carry from home, to work and school, and to recreational activities throughout the City?” commented John Kinnaird, Councilmember of the City of Waco.