SONYC Is A NYC BigApps 2015 Finalist!

finalist-img-1024x422On November 11, BigApps NYC 2015 announced that CUSP’s researchers, Charlie Mydlarz and Justin Salamon have made it through to the competition’s finals. Their submission, the SONYC project has been selected as one of the finalists in the Connected Cities category.

The finals will take place on Wednesday, December 2nd at the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The SONYC project team will have the opportunity to pitch their project to a panel of judges, as well as have time for Q&As and demos. Be sure to come by to support the team!

For more information about the SONYC project, please visit their website.

SONYC Through to Semifinals of BigApps NYC 2015!

NYU CUSP’s own Charlie Mydlarz and Justin Salamon have made it to the semifinals of the NYC BigApps 2015 competition, with their project – Sounds Of New York City (SONYC).

Their project will be on public display on Demo Day on Sunday, November 1, between 12:00 PM and 5:00 PM at Made in NY Media Center, 30 John St., Brooklyn NY 11201 .

The objectives of SONYC are to create technological solutions for: (1) the systematic, constant monitoring of noise pollution at city scale; (2) the accurate description of acoustic environments in terms of its composing sources; (3) broadening citizen participation in noise reporting and mitigation; and (4) enabling city agencies to take effective, information-driven action for noise mitigation.

Visit SONYC’s NYC BigApps 2015 competition page here.

Alumni Interview: Graham Henke

Graham_Henke_InterviewPicGraham is a CUSP graduate from the Class of 2015. He is also a co-founder of ARGO (Advanced Research in Government Operations) Labs. Graham talked to us about his time and skills gained here at  CUSP, and the the road ahead in urban science for him and New York City.

Go back to your first week at CUSP – what excited you the most about joining the program?

The potential to leverage new technologies to address city problems, and to acquire new or complementary skills was attractive as someone with a Computer Science background.

Which course made the biggest impact on you during your time as a CUSP student?

A combination of Civic Technology Management, and a course with ITP (Interactive Telecommunications Program) called The Quantified Self About Town. The two courses complemented each other, marrying sensors in urban contexts and civic technology. The new company that a few of us CUSP graduates founded, Advanced Research in Government Operations (ARGO) was built on these lessons, and it’s essentially where our flagship product, SQUID (Street Quality Identification Device) came from.

Which skill acquired during your time at CUSP has proven most valuable in the workplace?

I learned to holistically manage a project from concept to delivery. It’s more of a soft skill – how to move an idea through the tools, workflow and users, to see what needs to be built.

Change comes in many shapes and sizes — how are you changing the world after CUSP?

I’m continuing to develop affordable solutions for cities and addressing their operations challenges at ARGO, focused on the efficient delivery of a few research products. I’m also with CUSP still, as ARGO helps architect CUSP’s data facility to best operate for future students.

What did you wish people knew about NYC? Have you gained any unique perspectives on NYC?

The fact that not everyone has a smartphone. There are important demographics that aren’t so easily served, or reached with data. Addressing the city’s challenges is more than just writing the next killer app.

Favorite current city project?

LinkNYC. I’m excited about the idea of blanketing the city in gigabit internet. It will enable lots of work with sensors that can constantly stream data.

New York’s biggest challenge?

Affordable housing.

The best way to see NYC?

To physically go out on the streets and see them. Go walk through the neighborhoods you’re studying. You learn about the people, and might find little gems for yourself.

Where was your favorite place in New York City for study breaks?

I enjoyed walking around Brooklyn Bridge Park. It was close, but still far enough to get away from the work. And then there are the incredible views of Manhattan where you can really get a big picture.

Favorite piece of data science wisdom?

Data is just a representation of the problem you’re studying. It’s not a complete picture. It’s something we learned in Data Governance class: learning a dataset that describes a problem can create a bias.

Alumni Interview: Varun Adibhatla

Varun_AdibhatlaInterviewPicVarun is a CUSP graduate from the Class of 2015. He is also a co-founder of ARGO (Advanced Research in Government Operations) Labs, which has recently achieved LLC status. Varun took some time to share the experience of studying at CUSP, and the work done here, for Urban Science and Informatics.

Go back to your first week at CUSP – what excited you the most about joining the program?
Applying my experiences in data and technology to real city problems.

Which course made the biggest impact on you during your time as a CUSP student?
Urban Information and Communication Technology (ICT)

Which skill acquired during your time at CUSP has proved most valuable in the workplace?
A hard skill, Geographic Information System. I didn’t know much about it before, but I’ve had to get to grips with it and own it. As a soft skill, being OK with messiness because perfection and nice results don’t always happen

Where was your favorite place in New York City for study breaks?
Pierrepont Plaza, or the 5th floor of NYU’s Bobst Library (the Data Services are a really good resource, with people around to help you).

Change comes in many shapes and sizes — how are you changing the world after CUSP?
As one of the three founders that started ARGO Labs, my world has been busy! ARGO has recently become an LLC, and we work towards rapid prototyping for solving city problems. Currently, we have 3 projects: SCUBA, a Californian water usage data project aimed at water conservation; Learnr, an education volunteerism app; and our ‘flagship’ product, SQUID, a street surface quality data collection and imaging device. And we are still working with CUSP, working with Julia Lane to put together the Data Facility.

What did you wish people knew about NYC? Have you gained any unique perspectives on NYC?
The fact that there are people who run this city every day. There are so many city workers, and the fact that we don’t necessarily feel it all the time is important. It’s a thankless job.

Favorite current city project?
The Municipal Data Network is meant to bring together Data Officers to discuss and share standards for data.

New York’s biggest challenge?
Better preparing the government for a digital century.

Where was the best place to think during your time at CUSP?
Borough hall. I pretty much have my breakfast sandwich there every day. It’s like being in the shadow of the city agency. It’s where people gather and where many problems surface as well.

Favorite piece of data science wisdom?
If it doesn’t work, keep hacking.

Constantine Kontokosta and Christopher Tull Win Best Paper Award At D4GX 2015

D4GX Mini

On September 28, the NYC Media Lab – Bloomberg Data for Good Exchange (D4GX) awarded First Prize Paper to both Constantine Kontokosta, CUSP’s Deputy Director of Academics & Assistant Professor, and Christopher Tull, a student and Research Assistant at CUSP. D4GX’s evaluation team was impressed by their developed use of NYC open data and online mapping tools that culminated in their paper, “Web-Based Visualization and Prediction of Urban Energy Use from Building Benchmarking Data”.

The researchers were also granted an opportunity to speak on Wednesday September 30, at the Stata+Hadoop World conference Solution Showcase, one of the largest data science conferences to convene this year.

The Data for Good Exchange is part of Bloomberg’s advocacy initiatives, which uses data science and human capital to examine and find solutions for society’s core issues.

Download Paper

CUSP Student Life

At the Center for Urban Science and Progress, students share skills from a range of disciplines to find solutions by putting cities under the microscope. Our students engage in vibrant and diverse programs that merge academia and urbanization as study and as lifestyle. By mixing these domains, students at NYU CUSP have the unique opportunity to learn and help pioneer solutions for life in the city.

Education at NYU CUSP

At NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, its intellectual community engages city challenges with a diversity of tools, chief among which is the combination of urban informatics techniques and real life experience in New York City. The result is a unique approach to education programming that provides Urban Scientists with the resources and partnerships necessary to drive forward the challenges of the  field, making cities better places to live.

CUSP is Here!

The Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) is a unique public-private research center that uses New York City as its laboratory and classroom to help cities around the world become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient. CUSP observes, analyzes, and models cities to optimize outcomes, prototype new solutions, formalize new tools and processes, and develop new expertise/experts. These activities will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “Urban Informatics.”

Congratulations Class of 2015!

Our congratulations to the second cohort of MS graduates on your commencement. CUSP is proud to send onwards this group of accomplished individuals and exceptionally fine urban informaticists. Here’s to you, Class of 2015!

Julia Lane joins NYU as Full-time Faculty Member



In May 2015, Julia Lane joined NYU as a Professor of Practice at CUSP. She also serves as a Professor of Public Service at NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Provostial Fellow for Innovation Analytics.

Dr. Lane has had leadership roles in a number of policy and data science initiatives at her previous appointments, which include Senior Managing Economist at the American Institutes for Research; Program Director of the Science of Science & Innovation Policy program at the National Science Foundation; Senior Vice President and Director, Economics Department at NORC (National Opinion Research Center) at the University of Chicago; Director of the Employment Dynamics Program at the Urban Institute; Senior Research Fellow at the U.S. Census Bureau; and Assistant, Associate and Full Professor at American University. Please click here for additional information on her professional achievements.

As part of the CUSP team, Dr. Lane will bring significant experience and expertise in building the CUSP Data User Facility, and in cultivating the social science community to strengthen our engagement with new researchers. Dr. Lane is stepping down from her role on CUSP’s External Advisory Board (EAB) where she provided valuable insight and expertise.