Communications Archives - NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress

Disrupting the Park Bench

“Oh, no. My phone is dead. Better head to the park.”

Walk past the basketball court down at Anita Stroud Park, toward the little creek below, and you might find a gaggle of teens clustered around a very modern-looking bench that would seem more at home outside a coffee shop in Soho than in a tiny neighborhood park next to I-77 on the north end of Charlotte, North Carolina.

A pair of USB ports on a console on the front of the bench provides juice from the solar panel mounted at lap level between the seats. Who wouldn’t want to hang out at a bench like this? It certainly catches the eye of passersby. What these kids might not realize, however, is that this bench is watching them back. Underneath that solar panel is a small Wi-Fi enabled sensor that sends data back to an office building in East Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anyone who passes within 150 feet of the bench with a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device in their pocket is picked up by the sensor and registered as a unique visitor to the park. The sensors can’t access personal information from your phone—rather, they’re designed to pick up the unique ID associated with any Wi-Fi enabled device—but still, if you come back the next day, it knows it’s you again, not a new visitor. It may make privacy advocates squirm, but such data is very handy for park planners.

“The idea that we can learn about how many people are using the space, when they are there, and how long they are there, without having to literally send someone out there to count people, is very valuable,” says Monica Carney Holmes, the planning coordinator for Charlotte’s urban design office.

Since bolting the bench into place last October, Holmes’s office has learned that 85 percent of visitors to Anita Stroud are repeat visitors and that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday nights are the most hopping. Outdoor Zumba and Tai Chi classes were scheduled for Saturday mornings last summer, Holmes says, but this summer they’ll program more events for weeknights to capitalize on the higher traffic.

2017 Urban Science Intensive Capstone Presentations

On July 31st, the CUSP community came together for the 2017 Urban Science Intensive Capstone Presentations. NYU CUSP’s Urban Science Intensive (USI) Capstone program brings together student teams with government agencies or research partners to address real-world urban challenges through data. The USI Presentation event is the culmination of their four-month Capstone projects and marks the final presentation of the students’ work during their studies at CUSP.

During the event, the CUSP capstone teams gave presentations on many different pressing urban issues. Teams worked with a project sponsor to define the problem, collect and analyze data, visualize the results, and, finally, formulate and deliver a possible solution. The goal of each project was to create impactful, replicable, and actionable results that inform data-driven urban operations and a new understanding of city dynamics.

Learn more about all the projects presented and follow our coverage of the event on Storify here →

NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress Tackles Bus Reliability, Harmful Landlord Practices, with Data

This month kicks off a new series called MetroLab’s Innovation of the Month, in which Government Technology is partnering with MetroLab Network to recognize impactful tech, data and innovation projects between cities and universities.

In this post, we spotlight projects from NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). In particular, the Urban Science Intensive Capstones, a program led by Professor Constantine Kontokosta, has become a mechanism to connect student teams to local government needs. MetroLab Executive Director Ben Levine sat down with Professor Kontokosta and this year’s two Capstone finalists to talk about the program and the finalists’ projects.

Ben Levine: What is CUSP and what is the goal of these capstone projects? What are the benefits of having students engage with city agencies?

Constantine Kontokosta: New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress is a university-wide center whose research and education programs are focused on urban informatics. Using NYC as its lab, and building from its home in the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, it integrates and applies NYU strengths in the natural, data, and social sciences to understand and improve cities throughout the world.

The Urban Science Intensive Capstones are projects which consist of team-based work on real-world urban issues. Teams work with a project sponsor — often a government agency or non-profit — to define the problem, collect and analyze data, visualize the results, and finally, formulate and deliver a possible solution. Student teams are challenged to utilize urban informatics within the constraints of city operations and planning, while considering political, social, and financial issues and balancing privacy and confidentiality with transparency. The goal of each project is to create impactful, replicable and actionable results that inform data-driven urban operations or continued research.

Out of the 17 participating capstone projects, two projects were selected as finalists by a review panel at the end of the semester. The winning teams’ projects are highlighted below.

TLC Mentors Students Using Big Data

When you get in a yellow or green taxi in New York City, the cab is outfitted with equipment that automatically records the time and location of every pickup and drop-off. Since 2009, the Taxi and Limousine Commission has used this information extensively to help create data-driven policies, find items forgotten in taxicabs, and investigate passenger complaints.

Originally, the public could request a redacted version of this information through the Freedom of Information Law. Due to the volume of requests the TLC received, we began to proactively publish the datasets online on a 6-month cycle. In order to protect passenger privacy, the TLC removes vehicle and driver identifiers and aggregates the pickup and drop-off locations to larger taxi zones. This data is a treasure trove of information for journalists, startups, urban planners, and academics — and the TLC loves to see it being used in novel ways to improve the city.

One notable user of taxi data is New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP). CUSP is a data science school focusing on urban informatics, a field that uses data to better understand how cities work. This data can range from the quality of the air you breathe to the time you spend commuting. The school allows city agencies and industry partners to sponsor capstone projects where students use their new skills to analyze or solve problems using a data-driven approach. Over the last 4 months, the TLC mentored two teams of data science students. The teams were made of 4 to 5 students applying advanced data science techniques on TLC data to answer important and complex city planning questions. As mentors, TLC staff provided the teams with historical taxi trip data and helped to define the project scopes.

Christine Quinn explains how technology can help fight homelessness

It seems, sometimes, that the pace of technology moves at different speeds across society.

For the organization Christine Quinn leads, Women In Need, being able to text with its users could be a huge upgrade.

“Right now we’re literally going around and putting flyers under people’s doors,” Quinn explained in a phone call recently. “We’re not applying any of the technology or vision of the 21st century that we’ve used to solve so many problems.”

Since losing to Bill de Blasio in the 2013 mayoral election, Quinn has moved back into the field she worked in, housing, prior to her political career, which included eight years as the leader of City Council. In 2015 she took over as the president and CEO of Women in Need (WIN), a homeless shelter organization that houses more than 10 percent of the city’s homeless population.

Last month, the organization announced that it’s partnering with the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) program, based at the university’s Downtown Brooklyn engineering campus.

Urban Informatics Offers Partnership Opportunities between Institutions, Cities

In 2012, New York’s then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed colleges and universities around the world submit ideas for an applied science campus which would act as an engine of discovery and experimentation around the city’s resources.

Professor Constantine Kontakosta was part of the team which submitted a proposal to create the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress.

“We were trying to leverage existing growing strengths in research and data science. The thought was to bring this data together and use it to improve city operations,” he said. “Cities are generating incredible amounts of data…and we couple that with social media data and other nontraditional data sources to better understand how a city functions; and policymakers can make decisions on how to improve quality of life.”

The New Urban Science

Mosher Street, on the west side of Baltimore, could serve as the set for a feature film on urban entropy. Drive through and you’ll see block after block of century-old row houses, most of them long without residents, in mid-crumble. Endless eyesores cause headaches for a cash-strapped city like this one: among them fire, a potential for collapse, damage to occupied homes next door, and use by criminals or drug addicts.

Even more, what they call “vacants” here — around 17,000 of them — present city leaders with a persistent challenge: How do you build a vibrant city, or even renew a small part of it, when so much of it is falling apart?

Recently a Johns Hopkins statistician named Tamás Budavári, supported by the university’s new 21st Century Cities Initiative, came up with an idea: Why not use data from the city’s water system to determine which homes are newly vacant, and then inform city officials? Given a heads up, officials would have a chance to intensify homeownership incentive programs in the area or offer neighborhoods help in maintaining a property. Keeping a newly empty house from becoming an abandoned one could save the city tens of thousands of dollars in renovation or demolition costs, as well as stave off blight.

How An NYU Professor Captured the Densest-Ever Public Aerial Lidar Data

Recently professor Debra F. Laefer, with NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress–released what the center is calling the world’s densest urban aerial lidar data set. Here’s how it was described in the original press release:

At over 300 points per square meter, this is more than 30 times denser than typical LiDAR data and is an order of magnitude denser than any other aerial LiDAR dataset. The dataset also includes the first ever urban scan with the fullwave form version of the data, as well as affiliated imagery and video. The unprecedented comprehensiveness of this multi-layered dataset enables new opportunities in exploration and modeling.  It also sets a new standard for what can be collected and used by cities around the world. The data and affiliated information is now publicly available through New York University’s Spatial Data Repository (SDR) here for both personal and commercial use.

To find out more, SPAR3D caught up with Dr. Laefer, who explained the technology and the techniques used for capture, as well as the issues facing the team as they attempt to make the data useable to everyone who needs it.

NYU releases the densest LiDAR dataset ever to help urban development

New York University has made available the densest public LiDAR data set ever collected, via its Center for Urban Science and Progress. The laser scanned data, collected using aerial LiDAR instruments, is about 30 times as dense as a typical data set at a resolution of around 300 points per square meter, and covers a 1.5km square region of Dublin’s city center.

The data was collected by Professor Debra F. Laefer and her research team, and includes both a top-down view of the roofs and distribution of buildings, as well as info about their vertical surfaces, making it possible to build 3D models of the urban landscape with detail around building measurements, tress, power lines and poles and even curb height, CUSP says.

Sounds of NYC project aims to dull noises in the city that never sleeps

With so much noise pollution in New York, it’s easy to understand why it’s the city that never sleeps.

The city’s civil complaint line gets more calls about noise than any other issue. One recent study estimated that 90% of New Yorkers are subjected to noise that exceeds the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s recommended limit. And in New York’s noise code, any noise 10 decibels (dBs) above the background level is considered a “noise event” and can be investigated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

To help mitigate this, a team of scientists from New York University (NYU) and Ohio State University are trying to quiet the city by using sensors to learn more about the different elements of the Big Apple’s soundscape. The first-of-its-kind project, Sounds of New York City (SONYC), received a $4.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). So far, 36 of planned 100 sensors have been installed in Brooklyn and Manhattan, mostly on NYU buildings around Washington Square Park in lower Manhattan.

How the White House lost its brains

Four months into office, President Donald Trump has failed to appoint even a single person to a senior level science council, marking the first time in recent history that the White House is without a team of top technical advisers. The last time was when Richard Nixon fired his science advisers for giving him advice he didn’t like and failing to support his missile defense program.

“Who in the hell do these science bastards think they are?” questioned a Nixon White House staffer at the time.

Currently known as the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the panel typically consists of high-level academics, technologists, and other experts, who take time out of their jobs to advise the president on issues ranging from cybersecurity to nuclear physics, in both classified and unclassified reports and meetings.

Yet the current administration hasn’t expressed any interest in appointing new advisers, let alone filling open science and technology positions across government. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which advises the executive branch, is also currently without a director.

Elon Musk’s tunnel vision: Why his “Boring Company” underground traffic solution is a bad idea

Elon Musk revealed recently more details about his proposal to solve traffic gridlock by creating an elaborate 3D matrix of subterranean highways that would whisk cars around on electrified pallets.

But aside from obvious questions about technical feasibility and the cost to build and maintain such a network, some urban planners are questioning whether increasing the capacity to accommodate more individually owned vehicles is the best idea for resolving traffic congestion.

To some, Musk’s idea seems less like a future-of-mobility vision and more like a throwback to the past when city planners focused on building out passenger-car capacity by lacing together a network of roads and highways, which played a major role in suburban sprawl and snarled urban traffic.

Identifying and modeling the structural discontinuities of human interactions

ABSTRACT

The idea of a hierarchical spatial organization of society lies at the core of seminal theories in human geography that have strongly influenced our understanding of social organization. Along the same line, the recent availability of large-scale human mobility and communication data has offered novel quantitative insights hinting at a strong geographical confinement of human interactions within neighboring regions, extending to local levels within countries. However, models of human interaction largely ignore this effect. Here, we analyze several country-wide networks of telephone calls – both, mobile and landline – and in either case uncover a systematic decrease of communication induced by borders which we identify as the missing variable in state-of-the-art models. Using this empirical evidence, we propose an alternative modeling framework that naturally stylizes the damping effect of borders. We show that this new notion substantially improves the predictive power of widely used interaction models. This increases our ability to understand, model and predict social activities and to plan the development of infrastructures across multiple scales.

NYC universities expanding into technology at a ‘frenetic pace’

The Times posted a good piece Wednesday about the rapid expansion of New York universities into the tech space, highlighting NYU Tandon along with Columbia University and Cornell University.

The article focused on NYU Tandon’s $500 million acquisition and renovation of Downtown Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Transit Authority building, which will house the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and programs like the Future Labs, which have incubated dozens of promising Brooklyn startups.

Where Halls of Ivy Meet Silicon Dreams, a New City Rises

To see higher education in New York City being transformed, you have only to pick your vantage point.

From the roof of a residential Columbia University high-rise on Riverside Drive, you can watch excavators digging into the earth and workers putting the finishing touches on two new Renzo Piano-designed buildings, the first phase of the school’s biggest expansion in more than a century.

From the tram to Roosevelt Island, you can take in the geometric glass structures serving as the backbone of Cornell’s new technology campus.

And from Downtown Brooklyn, you can watch the moribund former headquarters of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority being transformed into a sleek, applied science hub for New York University.

 

 

NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION RECOGNIZES 2 NYU PROFESSORS FOR PROMISING RESEARCH IN SMART CITIES AND SMART TRANSPORTATION

Immediate Release

March 26, 2017

 

Joseph Chow and Constantine Kontokosta Receive CAREER Awards to Advance Their Research in Urban Informatics and Smart Transportation

BROOKLYN, New York – The National Science Foundation (NSF) has selected two New York University faculty members, Joseph Y.J. Chow and Constantine Kontokosta, as recipients of the prestigious NSF Faculty Early Career Development Awards, more widely known as CAREER Awards. Each will receive a grant to further his research into making cities healthier, safer, and more livable.

Both are assistant professors in the NYU Tandon School of Engineering Department of Civil and Urban Engineering and hold faculty appointments at the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).

Chow, who is active in NYU’s new research center, Connected Cities for Smart Mobility toward Accessible and Resilient Transportation (C2SMART) and heads the Behavioral Urban Informatics, Transport and Logistics (BUILT) Laboratory, will use the award to study how big data can inform the design of urban transportation systems, with a special emphasis on the privacy issues inherent in gathering and interpreting that data. Chow points out that although the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed spending $4 billion on autonomous vehicles and pledged $40 million to tackle smart cities as a grand challenge, successful operation of these technologies in large-scale, highly congested urban areas remains prone to operational pitfalls and obstacles. For example, how should a service operator best deploy vehicles or inform travelers in real time to optimize service and learning potential while simultaneously acknowledging their privacy? How can private service providers best partner with government to fill the gaps in public transit systems?

In his research, Chow intends to use real data from industry partners in ridesharing and autonomous vehicle systems and to drive innovation and entrepreneurship by defining new functional roles that mix transportation, computer science, and economics.

In addition to his appointment in the NYU Tandon Department of Civil and Urban Engineering, Kontokosta serves as the deputy director for CUSP academics at and heads its Urban Intelligence Lab. Through the CAREER Award, the NSF will support his efforts to develop a data-driven understanding of cities and metropolitan energy dynamics and the impacts on human well-being. Kontokosta has launched the Quantified Community  research initiative, deploying sensors to measure factors such as noise and air quality in lower Manhattan, the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, and at Hudson Yards, a 28-acre, 20 million-square-foot “city-within-a-city” on the west side of Manhattan.

Buildings account for as much as 40 percent of the nation’s energy use and carbon emissions, a figure that rises to 80 percent in dense urban areas like New York City.  Kontokosta’s research in urban informatics and metropolitan energy dynamics aims to create new analytical approaches coupled with big data to advance fundamental understanding of the patterns and determinants of urban energy demand and emissions from the built environment. Building on his interdisciplinary background, Kontokosta will integrate methods from civil and systems engineering, data science, and computational social science to develop models that support decision-making.

“We are gratified that two of our young and upcoming professors have joined the growing list of NYU faculty members who have won CAREER Awards,” said NYU Dean of Engineering Katepalli R. Sreenivasan. “Even this early in their academic careers, the cutting-edge research of Professors Chow and Kontokosta has contributed significantly to our department of Civil and Urban Engineering even as they are contributing research in areas of great importance to New York City and other metropolitan areas around the world. These awards from the NSF will help them improve the lives of countless residents and commuters.”

“At CUSP, the research being done by both Constantine Kontokosta and Joseph Chow has been instrumental in defining the science of cities,” said CUSP Director Steven Koonin.  “Through their CAREER Awards, Professors Kontokosta and Chow’s work will contribute practical solutions to growing cities.”

“We are delighted that both Joe and Constantine have both received one of NSF’s sought-after CAREER grants,” said Magued Iskander, chair of the NYU Tandon Civil and Urban Engineering Department.  “This prestigious recognition of our faculty, along with the recent award of a transportation research center, exemplifies our department’s growing research and teaching strengths.”

The CAREER Program is highly competitive and supports junior faculty who exemplify the role of teacher-scholars through outstanding research, excellent education, and the integration of education and research.

 

About the New York University Tandon School of Engineering

The NYU Tandon School of Engineering dates to 1854, the founding date for both the New York University School of Civil Engineering and Architecture and the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute (widely known as Brooklyn Poly). A January 2014 merger created a comprehensive school of education and research in engineering and applied sciences, rooted in a tradition of invention and entrepreneurship and dedicated to furthering technology in service to society. In addition to its main location in Brooklyn, NYU Tandon collaborates with other schools within NYU, the country’s largest private research university, and is closely connected to engineering programs at NYU Abu Dhabi and NYU Shanghai. It operates Future Labs focused on start-up businesses in downtown Manhattan and Brooklyn and an award-winning online graduate program. For more information, visit http://engineering.nyu.edu.

 

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress
CUSP is a university-wide center whose research and education programs are focused on urban informatics. Using NYC as its lab, and building from its home in the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, it integrates and applies NYU strengths in the natural, data, and social sciences to understand and improve cities throughout the world. CUSP offers a one-year MS degree in Applied Urban Science & Informatics. For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu.

 

 

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Media Contacts:

Kathleen Hamilton, NYU Tandon                                                     Kim Alfred, CUSP

646.997.3792 / mobile 347.843.9782                                               646.997.0508 / mobile 917.392.0859

kathleen.hamilton@nyu.edu                                                              kim.alfred@nyu.edu

To Create a Quieter City, They’re Recording the Sounds of New York

On Thursday, microphones mounted outside two buildings in Manhattan went live.

Bright yellow signs that say “Recording Underway” announced their arrival.

But these devices are not eavesdropping on your conversations.

A group of researchers from New York University and Ohio State University are training the microphones to recognize jackhammers, idling engines and street music, using technology originally developed to identify the flight calls of migrating birds. Think of it as the Shazam, the smartphone app that can identify songs, of urban sounds.

Snippets of audio, about 10 seconds each, will be collected during random intervals over the course of about a year to capture seasonal notes, like air-conditioners and snowplows. The cacophony will be labeled and categorized using a machine-listening engine called UrbanEars. The sensors will eventually be smart enough to identify hundreds of sonic irritants reverberating across the city.

FUTURE CITIES CATAPULT AND NYU’S CENTER FOR URBAN SCIENCE & PROGRESS JOIN FORCES TO MEASURE THE ECONOMIC IMPACT OF SMART CITIES

New York, NY – Future Cities Catapult, the London-based center of excellence on urban innovation, has teamed up with one of the world’s leading data analytics units – the New York University Centre for Science & Urban Progress (NYU CUSP) – to create a novel framework to measure the economic and social impact of smart urban solutions, technology and infrastructure deployments.

This major piece of work will be carried out over the next 12 months by the Future Cities Catapult Digital Strategy and Economics team and NYU CUSP’s team of researchers led by Dr. Stanislav Sobolevsky and Dr. Constantine Kontokosta.

“CUSP has been instrumental in bringing a rigorous evidence based approach to this cutting edge project,” said Meagan Crawford, Lead Economist at Future Cities Catapult. “Future Cities Catapult will combine the world-leading expertise of Henry Overman from the What Works Centre and other notable academics over the next 12 months by testing and validating the economic performance of digital solutions across global cities”.

“At present, cities face enormous challenges when they try to assess the costs and benefits of smart city initiatives,” said Jarmo Eskselinen, Chief Innovation and Technology Office, Future Cities Catapult. “The complexities and interdependencies of city systems combined with a lack of evidence of impact mean that cities are not always able to justify major smart city investment. By working together, Future Cities Catapult’s economics experts and NYU CUSP’s data analytics experts can create the capacity to deliver a world-leading programme on urban impact measurement.”

“This collaborative project with Future Cities Catapult will allow us to significantly advance the field of urban data analytics and network science methodology,” said Dr. Sobolevsky. “This research will generate demonstrable real-world impact and use cases that can increase efficiencies in our cities as they respond to the challenges of rapid urbanization.”

“Cities are increasingly looking to technology to help them solve some of their most pressing challenges,” said Dr. Kontokosta, Assistant Professor of Urban Informatics at CUSP and the Tandon School of Engineering, “Our work with the Future Cities Catapult will provide city leaders with a robust, objective understanding of the economic, social, and environmental impacts of a range innovative approaches to improving urban infrastructure and quality-of-life in cities”.

NOTES TO EDITORS
For further information contact Naomi Moore on nmoore@futurecities.catapult.org.uk / 07718 584331

About Future Cities Catapult (Futurecities.catapult.org.uk)
Future Cities Catapult exists to advance innovation, to grow UK companies, to make cities better. We bring together businesses, universities and city leaders so that they can work with each other to solve the problems that cities face, now and in the future. This means that we catalyse and apply innovations to grow UK business and promote UK exports.

From our Urban Innovation Centre in London, we provide world-class facilities and expertise to support the development of new products and services, as well as opportunities to collaborate with others, test ideas and develop business models.

We help innovators turn ingenious ideas into working prototypes that can be tested in real urban settings. Then, once they’re proven, we help spread them to cities across the world to improve quality of life, strengthen economies and protect the environment.

Follow us on Twitter @futurecitiescat or sign up for our newsletter to keep up to date with our news.

About Catapult centres
The Catapult centres are a network of world-leading centres designed to transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas and help drive future economic growth. The Catapults network has been established by Innovate UK. For more information visit catapult.org.uk.

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress
CUSP is a university-wide center whose research and education programs are focused on urban informatics. Using NYC as its lab, and building from its home in the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, it integrates and applies NYU strengths in the natural, data, and social sciences to understand and improve cities throughout the world. CUSP offers a one-year MS degree in Applied Urban Science & Informatics. For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

Follow NYU CUSP on Twitter @NYU_CUSP.

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CONTACT:

Kim Alfred, CUSP

917.392.0859 / kim.alfred@nyu.edu

Patrice Kugler

212.402.3486 / pkugler@marinopr.com

 

Solar Installation Dedicated in Brooklyn

The Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York City this week unveiled a project featuring 3,152 rooftop solar panels.

The installation was done by ConEdison Solutions, which will operate and maintain the panels. They will generate 1.1 million kWh of energy annually. The ConEdison Solutions press release says that the installation, which is on the roof of Building 293 of the yard, is one of the largest in the city.

City’s Biggest Buildings Slash Energy Use and Emissions

New energy report reveals great strides, but much room for improvement.

From 2010 to 2013, thousands of New York City’s biggest buildings slashed energy use by 6 percent and greenhouse gas emissions by 8 percent, according to the new NYC Energy and Water Use Report.

“Energy use has been going up in this country since Edison started delivering it to customers in New York,”Cecil Scheib of the Urban Green Council told the Daily News. The council co-authored the report along with the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress. “We have something that always got worse,” Scheib added, “and for the first time in a century it’s getting better, and that’s amazing.”

The data was collected under Local Laws 84 and 87, which require buildings over 50,000 square feet to conduct energy audits and measure their energy and water use. The laws cover nearly half of the city’s built square footage.

New York City Study Conclusion: Benchmarking Works

An important study on the impact of benchmarking on big apartment and office buildings in New York City offers proof of something that can benefit energy managers everywhere: Simply providing people with insight into their energy use tends to promote efficiency.

The study – which is posted in its entirety by Crain’s New York Business – was conducted by New York University’s Center for Urban Science Progress (CUSP) and Urban Green, which is the New York City chapter of the U.S. Green Building Council. It examines the impact of Local Law 84 (LL84), which was promulgated in 2009. The law mandated that buildings of 50,000 square feet or more annually report energy and water consumption. The performance of these buildings than can be compared.

Big-building owners required to report energy use reduced greenhouse gas emissions, report says

A law that requires the city’s biggest buildings to log and report their energy usage is paying off, officials said Wednesday. Thousands of structural behemoths in New York City have cut their greenhouse gas emissions by 8% and energy usage by 6% over a three-year period without necessarily making any upgrades.

“Clearly, building owners are responding to the information they are receiving on their utility usage,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler in a statement.

The information was contained in a report authored and released by the city and two nonprofits, Urban Green Council and New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. Under the 2009 law, city- or privately owned buildings over 50,000 square feet are required to report their energy and water use annually. That adds up to about 15,000 properties. Although some of the reduction was likely due to energy retrofits or upgrades, experts said the overall numbers prove the law’s basic idea: owners will reduce their power consumption if they see how much energy they are using compared with other buildings of similar size.

NYC makes strides in reducing its greenhouse gas emissions

Although some would have the population believing otherwise, greenhouse gas emissions are a real issue. And while New York City, with its shipped-in food and barged-out trash, is no small contributor to that matter, the city is at least making strides to amend its contribution.

The mayor’s office, along with Urban Green Council and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, released a report today citing an eight percent decrease in greenhouse gas emissions from 3,000 of the city’s largest buildings between 2010 and 2013. In those same buildings, energy use decreased by six percent.

The initiative to decrease greenhouse gas emissions and energy use in buildings across the city is part of Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC campaign, which seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in NYC by 80 percent from its 2005 levels by 2050.

The Future of The ‘Smart City’

Over 85 percent of the world’s population will live in a city by the end of the century. In a special broadcast, we’re exploring what the urban centers of the future will look like.

What are people working on in the Brooklyn tech world?

Last night in Bushwick some of the most interesting people in the Brooklyn tech world got together for a happy hour at CartoDB’s American headquarters. There were data scientist, social entrepreneurs, regular capitalist entrepreneurs and urban planners.

Assessment: Academic return

When Julia Lane began working in scientific-funding policy she was quickly taken aback by how unscientific the discipline was compared with the rigorous processes she was used to in the labour-economics sector, “It was a relatively weak and marginalized field,” says Lane, an economist at New York University.

In 2005, John Marburger, science adviser to then-President George W. Bush, felt much the same. He called on researchers and policymakers to focus on the “science of science policy”, an empirical assessment of outcomes and returns from funding agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and National Science Foundation (NSF). “When the Congressional Budget Office does simulations of the effects of investment in areas like tax or education policy, they have models and processes,” says Lane. “But he said that when it comes to science, essentially all we say is ‘send more money’.”

Around the same time, the UK government also began to explore how to significantly increase the economic impact of the country’s research and development (R&D) investments. According to Lane, such efforts have historically been a low priority, because R&D accounts for only a small percentage of the economy — typically less than 3% of the gross domestic product (GDP), mostly from the private sector. However, public funding of basic research still represents a considerable sum.

Can Big Data Resolve The Human Condition?

Back in the day, astronomers studied galaxies one at a time.

Data about each metropolis of stars had to be pieced together slowly. These individual studies were then combined so that a broader understanding of galaxies and their histories as a whole could slowly emerge.

Then, along came the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and everything changed. Using a special purpose telescope and computer-driven data collection, the Sloan Survey fire-hosed millions of objects onto the laps of astronomers. That was the beginning of “Big Data” in astronomy, and it changed the way we understood our place in the universe.

Now, a visionary group of scientists believes it can do for society what Sloan did for galaxies. Using the ever-increasing capacities of Big Data, the goal is to change the way we understand the human universe.

The Kavli HUMAN Project is a collaboration between the Kavli Foundation, the Institute for the Interdisciplinary Study of Decision Making at NYU, and the Center for Urban Science and Progress at NYU. It’s based on one simple goal — and an array of stunningly complex technologies required to get there. Here “HUMAN” stands for “Human Understanding Through Measurement and Analytics.” The project’s vision is to “generat[e] a truly comprehensive longitudinal dataset that capture[s] nearly all aspects of a representative human population’s biology, behavior, and environment.”

The signal and the noise

DONALD TRUMP, THE Republican front-runner for the American presidency, is clearly riding a wave of anger—but he is also wielding a huge virtual megaphone to spread his populist messages. “@realDonaldTrump”, the Twitter account of the property magnate turned politician, has more than 7m followers and the number is rising by about 50,000 every day. Moreover, since each of his tweets is re-tweeted thousands of times and often quoted in mainstream media, his real audience is much bigger. And if he does win the Republican nomination, it will be hard to tune him out. “How do you fight millions of dollars of fraudulent commercials pushing for crooked politicians?” he tweeted in early March. “I will be using Facebook & Twitter. Watch!”

If Ted Cruz, his fellow Republican, were to clinch the nomination, the campaign for America’s presidency would be quieter—but no less digital. Mr Cruz’s victory in the Iowa primaries was based on effective number-crunching. He bombarded potential supporters with highly targeted ads on Facebook, and used algorithms to label voters as “stoic traditionalists”, “temperamental conservatives” or “true believers” to give campaign volunteers something to go on. He also sent official-looking “shaming” letters to potential supporters who had previously abstained from voting. Under the headline “Voting Violation”, the letters reminded recipients of their failure to do their civic duty at the polls and compared their voting records with those of their neighbours.

The way these candidates are fighting their campaigns, each in his own way, is proof that politics as usual is no longer an option. The internet and the availability of huge piles of data on everyone and everything are transforming the democratic process, just as they are upending many industries. They are becoming a force in all kinds of things, from running election campaigns and organising protest movements to improving public policy and the delivery of services. This special report will argue that, as a result, the relationship between citizens and those who govern them is changing fundamentally.

Beware of “Big Data Hubris” When It Comes to Police Reform

For the past several years police departments around the United States have been betting on “big data” to revolutionize the way they predict, measure and, ideally, prevent crime. Some data scientists are now turning the lens on law enforcement itself in an effort to increase public insight into how well police officers are doing their jobs.

Last year, the city of Indianapolis and Code for America teamed up to launch Project Comport — an open-data platform for sharing information on complaints and use of force incidents. (Nick Selby, a police officer and software developer who consults on policing technology, recently took the system for a ride and wrote about its potential.) And two media projects recently funded by the Knight Foundation focus exclusively on American law enforcement.

The Chicago-based “Citizens Police Data Project” — an initiative of the Invisible Institute — launched a database in November containing more than 56,000 Chicago police misconduct complaints involving thousands of officers. It plans to use its Knight grant to develop a web application to simplify the filing and tracking of complaints. Meanwhile, a project called “Law Order and Algorithms” based at Stanford University plans to collect, analyze and release data on more than 100 million highway patrol stops over the next two years, creating a massive storehouse of police-citizen interactions for journalists and policymakers.

Energy Transitions – Understanding the Challenge

What will it really take to make a transition to a sustainable energy society? Visions of a clean, affordable, reliable, and durable energy future are something that most everyone can support in general. But how we get there, andwhen, are different matters altogether. What fundamental issues do we need to understand, and what forces will drive or hinder that transition?

In a finite world, sustainability is ultimately not a choice but a mandate. The question is: how fast or slow, smooth or turbulent, the transition will be. Some say we need to move as quickly as possible—whether for environmental, economic, or national security reasons, or all the above—implying that all we lack is the political will. Others downplay the urgency and focus on the monumental difficulties of making a transition. The truth, it seems, lies somewhere in between.

To move forward, we need to resolve, or at least manage, the tension between these opposing views. On today’s show, we’ll explore that tension and take a “big-picture” look at the risks, challenges, and opportunities that humanity faces in making an energy transition.

Guests:

RELATED COS, NYU WILL STUDY ‘FIREHOSE OF DATA’ FROM NYC’S FIRST QUANTIFIED COMMUNITY

With the gargantuan 28-acre Hudson Yards project just two short years away from completion, the impact and importance of its “smart city” initiatives is beginning to come into focus.

At the project’s outset, developers Related Cos and Oxford Properties took the opportunity they gave themselves—basically creating an entire neighborhood from scratch—to bake in several high-tech features that will put the finished project in a league of its own.

These include a CoGen plant in one of the development’s six buildings that will be able to provide roughly 70% or more of the project’s energy needs, depending on the time of year, as well as elaborate sustainability measures like a composting program and rainwater recycling.

Michael Samuelian, a VP at Related (snapped above, left, with Empire State Realty Trust’s Tom Durels and H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture’s Hugh Hardy), says those programs will significantly cut down on the development’s carbon footprint when everything is said and done.

They’ll also make it more resilient—in the event of another Sandy-type storm, Hudson Yards won’t be dependent on ConEd’s aging grid for power.

Urban Informatics: Putting Big Data to Work in Our Cities

For the first time in history, more than half of the people in the world live in urban areas. Now more than ever, cities are supporting rapidly increasing populations while struggling to maintain services, operations, and quality of life for their inhabitants.

As cities grow, the task of understanding how they work is becoming a pressing global issue. Currently, about 80 percent of the U.S. and about 50 percent of the world’s population resides in urban areas, growing at over 1 million people per week. In the face of unprecedented growth, cities are faced with a unique challenge: refurbishing and maintaining existing infrastructures to support their current inhabitants while also planning sufficiently to accommodate future populations. If growth patterns continue at this speed, by 2050, 64 percent of people in the developing world, and 85 percent of people in the developed world, will call an urban area their home.

But while global urbanization seemingly presents myriad challenges, it also offers a potential solution – in the form of data. Thanks to the digital revolution, we now have more information at our disposal than ever before, and the amount of data that urban areas are generating is truly staggering. In New York City alone, the local government creates a terabyte of raw data every day, with information on everything from parking tickets to electricity.

 

NYU CENTER FOR URBAN SCIENCE & PROGRESS RESEARCHER AMONG 21ST CENTURY SCIENCE INITIATIVE AWARD WINNERS

 

New York, NY – New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) researcher Gregory Dobler is one of the recipients of the 21st Century Science Initiative Awards. Funded by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the award will provide funding for Dobler’s project, entitled ‘Understanding the Complex Urban System through Remote Imaging’.

The James S. McDonnell Foundation recently announced more than $14 million in grants for the 21st Century Science Initiative Awards, funding research in three program areas: Understanding Human Cognition, Mathematical & Complex Systems Approaches to Brain Cancer, and Studying Complex Systems. Dobler’s study, which was the recipient of a Scholar Award for the Study of Complex Systems, will receive $450,000 over the course of three years.

“My background in astrophysics led me to ponder whether the same techniques from fields like Astronomy and Computer Vision could be used to study the city as a complex system,” said Dobler. “Much like astrophysicists try to understand the Universe by taking pictures of it from a distance, the idea of understanding the urban environment by taking pictures of it from a distance has opened up a host of possibilities for the science of cities: from unique air quality monitoring to the quantification of energy efficiency to the interaction of people with the technology used in the built infrastructure.”

“My background in astrophysics led me to ponder whether the same techniques from fields like Astronomy and Computer Vision could be used to study the city as a complex system,” said Dobler. “Much like astrophysicists try to understand the Universe by taking pictures of it from a distance, the idea of understanding the urban environment by taking pictures of it from a distance has opened up a host of possibilities for the science of cities: from unique air quality monitoring to the quantification of energy efficiency to the interaction of people with the technology used in the built infrastructure.”

Dobler is an Associate Director for Physical Sciences at CUSP and a Research Assistant Professor of Physics at NYU. He specializes in image analysis, computer vision, time series, statistical analysis, and mathematical modeling of large data sets. Prior to joining CUSP, Greg was an astrophysicist specializing in multi-wavelength, full sky data sets from radio to gamma-ray energies, and led the discovery of one of the largest structures in the Milky Way.

“I am extremely honored to receive this award from the James S. McDonnell Foundation and excited about the avenues of research that it makes possible. With this award, we will be able to acquire state-of-the-art instrumentation for imaging New York from a distance and use the resultant data sets to generate unprecedented views of the city skyline. This data will be crucial to studying the interactions between the human, built, and natural environments of the city, resulting in a unique approach to the study of the city as a complex system,” said Dobler.

Founded in 1950 by the late aerospace pioneer and founder of what would become the McDonnell Douglas Corporation, James S. McDonnell believed that science and technology gives mankind the power to shape knowledge for the future while improving our lives. “Mr. Mac’s” vision continues to be realized through the research these grants are supporting. Since the inception of the program in 2000, more than $264 million in funding has been awarded.

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress
CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world. This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”. For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

###

Contact:

Kim Alfred, CUSP

917.392.0859

kim.alfred@nyu.edu

 

Elizabeth Latino, The Marino Organization

212.402.3488

elizabeth@themarino.org

NYU CENTER FOR URBAN SCIENCE & PROGRESS RESEARCHER AMONG KNIGHT NEWS CHALLENGE WINNERS

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

January 27, 2016

New York, NY – New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) research scientist Ravi Shroff is a member of one of the winning projects of the prestigious John S. and James L. Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge. The proposal is one of 17 winning projects of the Knight News Challenge on Data announced yesterday at an event at Civic Hall in New York.

The Knight News Challenge on Data funds breakthrough ideas that make data work for individuals and communities. This year’s challenge called upon entrants to answer the following question: “How might we make data work for individuals and communities?” Led by Sharad Goel, Shroff and his colleagues submitted a proposal called “Law, Order & Algorithms: Making Sense of 100 Million Highway Patrol Stops,” aiming to bring greater transparency, accountability and equity to police interactions with the public during highway stops.

“Traffic stops represent one of the most common ways citizens interact with law enforcement. Accordingly, our intent in compiling, cleaning, analyzing, and releasing this large, geographically comprehensive dataset of police stops is to enable policymakers, law enforcement officials, and the public to work together to improve our criminal justice system in a rigorous, evidence-based manner,” said Shroff.

The project team put together a plan to collect, clean, release, and analyze more than 100 million highway patrol stops throughout the U.S. spanning the last several years, ultimately creating one of the most comprehensive national datasets of police interactions with the public. By creating and releasing such a comprehensive study, a vast collection of empirical data on police behavior would be available for local law enforcement agencies, researchers, public officials, journalists and community advocacy groups to use.

“The project reveals the power of data to unlock useful information and increase people’s understanding of everyday issues that affect their lives,” said John Bracken, Knight Foundation vice president for media innovation.

The project lead is Sharad Goel, an assistant professor at Stanford in the Department of Management Science & Engineering. Team members included Ravi Shroff, a research scientist at NYU CUSP, Vignesh Ramachandran of Stanford Computational Journalism Lab, and Camelia Simoiu and Sam Corbett-Davies of Stanford’s School of Engineering.

Knight Foundation is the leading funder of journalism and media innovation in the nation, seeking the next generation of innovations that will inform and engage communities. Knight’s mission is to promote informed and engaged communities. The foundation does that by investing in innovations in media and journalism, community engagement and the arts.

To learn more about the Knight News Challenge, visit www.newschallenge.org.

 

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress
CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world. This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”. For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu.

 

About Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit knightfoundation.org.

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CONTACT:

Kim Alfred, CUSP

917.392.0859

kim.alfred@nyu.edu

Elizabeth Latino, The Marino Organization

212.889.0808

elizabeth@themarino.org

80/50 Vision: The Mayor’s Bold Greenhouse Plan

Related Companies’ hot water heaters have been built too big for a long time.

No one really knows (or knew until recently) how big hot water heaters should be. “There has been a dearth in general of real data,” Charlotte Matthews, Related’s vice president for sustainability, explained to Commercial Observer. The real estate giant had been building its hot water heaters based on rules of thumb long used by engineers. But the company recently got motivated to get sizing to an exact science to optimize its cogeneration facilities for Hudson Yards, where waste heat from other systems will contribute to keeping water hot.

“So we measured hot water consumption in our buildings and found that our systems were between two and eight times oversized,” she said.

That means that a lot more water was kept hot than the buildings would use. That’s a lot of wasted energy.

But measurement and verification can show what’s working and what’s wasteful for big buildings and they are driven in part by policy and a consensus that has formed in the real estate industry. The administration of MayorBill de Blasio has set a goal he calls 80 x 50, to reduce the city’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050. The Real Estate Board of New York has gotten behind it, advocating for smart energy policy and joining the mayor’s Green Building Technical Working Group (and co-chairing two of its subcommittees).

Can Big Data and Sensors Make Cities Smarter and Safer?

“Smart Cities” are designed to scale up “The Internet of Things” to better manage local transportation, energy, healthcare, water delivery and waste disposal. Can Big Data really improve the quality of life for residents and their neighbors?

Keeping Up: When Technological Change Begets More, Faster Change

If you want an early glimpse of how the future may look, one place to get it is the Tower at PNC Plaza. Pittsburgh’s newest skyscraper, which has a gleaming curvilinear top that looms 33 stories over downtown, is a $400 million effort to create the world’s greenest office building.

Gensler, which designed the building, has equipped it with an array of state-of-the-art gadgetry to reduce energy consumption. A solar chimney, consisting of two vertical shafts at the building’s core, allows air to rise and exit through the roof. There also is a double-skin facade, in which twin panes of glass are separated by an air cavity that provides insulation, and a system of automated blinds between the glass panes that is controlled by sensors regulating the amount of sunlight entering the building.

The result: a building that is expected to consume 50 percent less energy than past generations of office towers.

Many of the Tower at PNC Plaza’s technologies are not new, as Douglas C. Gensler, one of the architecture firm’s principals, explains. “The advance really was thinking of how you combine all these things,” he says. Up to this point, “they tended to be either stand-alone ideas or they were not wrapped into the architecture of the building.”

De Blasio touts progress on OneNYC

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration says it has made progress on its OneNYC plan, the policy document that sets a course for the city’s efforts on environmental and climate change resiliency — from solar at City Hall to a new tool to control buildings’ energy use.

“This morning, the Mayor announced that of the nearly 3,000 public buildings with any significant energy use, almost one-third already have retrofits in place or underway,” Nilda Mesa, head of the mayor’s Office of Sustainability, told a joint hearing of the City Council Committees on Recovery and Resiliency and Environmental Protection on Monday. “The City has installed nearly four megawatts of solar on its buildings in the last year alone, bringing the total to nearly five megawatts.”

The public buildings already getting retrofits account for roughly half the greenhouse-gas emissions from city-owned buildings, and City Hall itself is installing a solar installation and a fuel-cell generator, she said.

Mayor de Blasio Announces Major Progress in Greening City Buildings

City leading by example, retrofitting all public buildings by 2025; projects already in place or underway at buildings representing half of all City government building emissions

Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and NYU launch tool to track energy and water use at large buildings – key resource as NYC reduces all emissions 80 percent by 2050

 

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that the City has made significant progress in greening its own building stock as it works to retrofit all public buildings by 2025 and move toward an 80 percent reduction in all greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 – a key OneNYC target. As the City leads by example in retrofitting its own buildings, it also continues to make it easier for private building owners to do the same, launching a new tool today to track energy and water usage at large buildings.

Of the nearly 3,000 public buildings with any significant energy use, almost one-third already have retrofits in place or underway. Those buildings represent 50 percent of greenhouse gas emissions from City buildings.

“This weekend, world leaders took a historic step in the fight against climate change. New York City has long set the pace when it comes to innovative climate action – and we’ll continue to lead the way,” said Mayor de Blasio. “We’re greening every public building, with retrofits now in buildings representing half of all public building emissions. Our progress is clear, but we won’t stop leading by example – and providing the tools for the private sector to do the same – because our very future is at stake.”

From Data to Design: The Science of Cities

New York City amasses data on habits, health and security of its citizens to cope with spiraling growth

 

New York – Gregory Dobler is an astrophysicist who honed his craft by recording spectral images of quasars and black holes. Now, from a high-rise rooftop in Brooklyn, he is training his lens on the expanding universe of New York City.

Every 10 seconds for two years, Dr. Dobler and his colleagues at New York University’s urban observatory have taken a panorama of Manhattan. Across hundreds of wavelengths of light, they are recording the rhythmic pulse of a living city, just as astronomers capture the activity of a variable star.

“Instead of taking pictures of the sky to see what is going on in the heavens, we are taking pictures of the city from a distance to see if we can figure out how the city is functioning,” says Dr. Dobler, a scientist at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.

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.

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

NYU CUSP PARTICIPATES IN THE WHITE HOUSE SMART CITIES FORUM

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy brought government and research professionals together to discuss technical solutions for cities across the country

New York, NY – On Monday, August, 14th, New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) participated in the Smart Cities Forum hosted by The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). Joining representatives from city government, the research community, and universities across the country, NYU CUSP took part a discussion to address problems and create solutions for operations, planning, and development.

The Smart Cities Forum, held at the White House South Court Auditorium, comes on the heels of the creation of the “Metro Lab Network,” a collection of universities and city government partnerships working toward technical solutions to challenges such as infrastructure, transportation, and distribution of services. Members of the Network will work together to develop shared, scalable solutions that can be deployed in cities across the country.

The forum was attended by representatives from more than 22 cities and universities across the U.S. including Dr. Steven E. Koonin, the founding director of NYU CUSP. “Now, more than ever, cities are supporting rapidly increasing populations,” says Koonin. “The Metro Lab Network presents an opportunity for us to learn from our shared experiences, city to city.”

NYU CUSP’s core mission and relationship with New York City made it a natural candidate for the Metro Lab Network. Using New York City as its laboratory and classroom, CUSP has set out to respond to the City’s challenge by setting the research agenda for ‘the science of cities,’ and educating the next generation of urban scientists in how to apply this research to real-world problems, bring innovative ideas to cities across the world, and create a new, fast-growing and indispensable industry. NYU CUSP is also working with the New York City Mayor’s Office to create a series of neighborhood innovation labs across the five boroughs, building on the work of the CUSP Quantified Community research facility led by Prof. Constantine Kontokosta. The Metro Lab Network will connect NYU CUSP and New York City to other city/university partnerships, ultimately providing a place for city governments and researchers to share ideas and challenges, collaborate on solutions, and learn best practices from one another.

 

In the coming months, the White House OSTP will announce forthcoming programs that result from the Metro Lab Network.

 

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

 

###

Kim Alfred, CUSP

917.392.0859

kim.alfred@nyu.edu

 

Elizabeth Latino, The Marino Organization

212.889.0808

elizabeth@themarino.org

NYU CUSP AND NATIONAL LEAGUE OF CITIES PARTNER ON DATA ANALYTICS AND CITY SERVICES SUMMIT

New York, NY – New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) teamed up with the National League of Cities to host the Data Analytics and City Services Summit. Held August 6-7 in New York City, this first-of-its-kind event brought together thought leaders with chief data officers and performance management staff from 12 cities across the nation to accelerate city data analytics efforts and develop methods to improve decision-making and operational efficiency.

“Twelve cities came together to share ideas, best practices and lessons learnt on using data and analytics to improve cities,” said Tom Schenk, chief data officer for the City of Chicago. “When we share these ideas, we can be sure to implement the best ideas at the lowest cost. It is important that the nascent chief data officers, directors of analytics, performance managers and others who are leading the charge for data-driven decisions come together as a community.”

Through a hands-on data analytics workshop and a series of roundtable discussions, participants identified common data-related functions, goals and challenges. Participants then showcased various data approaches and strategies to improve city services and civic engagement.

“Our belief is that a well articulated data strategy that can be applied in multiple cities will accelerate the adoption of effective applications of data analytics,” said Steven Koonin, the founding director of NYU CUSP. “We know that urban science is still very much a nascent field, and we are engaging cities most committed to harnessing data and learning together.”

The attendees also worked with urban informatics students from NYU CUSP to apply new analytical techniques to existing datasets to understand challenges and develop new solutions to deliver city services. Participating cities provided raw data sets prior to the summit, along with information on how the data was collected.

“Local governments are embracing data and technology to solve their most difficult problems and ensure competitive and equitable cities,” said National League of Cities CEO Clarence E. Anthony. “We are proud to support the critical work in cities to apply the innovative solutions that are solving ongoing challenges in local government.”

The summit was lead by renowned experts in the field of urban science, including Steven Goldsmith, Director of the Innovations in American Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Sir Peter Elias, Deputy Chair of the Administrative Data Research Board of the UK Statistics Authority, and Stacey Warady Gillett, leader of the What Works Cities initiative at Bloomberg Philanthropies. Participating cities included Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Kansas City, Mo., Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

NYU CUSP and NLC also conducted a survey of participating cities on their data practices and barriers. The survey found that outdated systems and infrastructure, as well as a lack of resources, were most commonly cited as barriers to leveraging data to improve services and efficiency.

The two-day summit was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, one of the nation’s largest independent foundations, committed to fostering the development of knowledge, strengthening institutions and improving public policy.

 

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

 

About the National League of Cities

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities. NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans. www.nlc.org.

 

 

Contact:

Kim Alfred, CUSP

917.392.0859

kim.alfred@nyu.edu

 

Tom Martin, National League of Cities

202.626.3186

martin@nlc.org

 

Elizabeth Latino, The Marino Organization

212.889.0808

elizabeth@themarino.org

2015’s Best & Worst Cities to Be a Driver

Unless you rely on public transit or live within walking distance of work, school and everywhere in between, commuting by car is necessary. For many of us, that unfortunately means being on the road about 200 hours each year — in addition to more than 40 hours stuck in traffic. In working-class terms, a total of 240 hours is the equivalent of a six-week vacation.

Add up the costs of wasted time and fuel due to traffic congestion on U.S. roads, and we arrive at a collective total of about $124 billion annually, or about $1,700 per household. However, that figure doesn’t include the extra $515 tab for maintenance and repairs, costs induced by the poor quality of America’s roads, which currently rank at No. 16 in the world and receive a grade of “D” from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

But some cities are more haven-like for drivers, especially those who find pleasure behind the wheel. To find those locations, WalletHub ranked the 100 most populated U.S. cities according to the costs of car ownership and commuting — in terms of time, money and safety — as well as the environment for leisure drivers. We compared our sample across 21 key metrics, among which are average gas prices, average annual traffic delays, rates of car theft and car clubs per capita. The results, as well as expert commentary and a detailed methodology, can be found below.

2015 Commencement – Special Tribute Video

In New York City and Chicago, the smart city is here — and it’s keeping track of everything

Two major projects have kicked off in New York City and Chicago, part of a broader global trend toward using high technology — the latest in sensors and infinitesimal tracking and measuring devices — to create “smart cities.”

The projected savings of these global initiatives: $20 billion by 2020.

Last spring, NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress partnered with New York City’s Hudson Yards neighborhood — in the far west 30s of Manhattan — to build the nation’s first “quantified community.” The 17 million square feet of commercial and residential land, currently in Phase 1 development, will track data on air quality, pedestrian traffic, energy production and consumption, and the health and activity levels of workers and residents. There will be a school, hotel and 14 acres of public space along with an on-site power plant and central waste-management system. Phase 2 will begin next year, with the community completed by the mid-2020s.

Hudson Yards, which is being developed by Related and Oxford Properties, is the largest and most ambitious private real estate development in the US. A project of similar scope has not been seen in New York City since Rockefeller Center was built in the 1930s.

Deconstructing IOT with Temboo

Dr. Steve Koonin, Director at the Center for Urban Science and Progress, talks with us about how big data analysis may guide solutions for big city challenges. We spoke with Dr. Koonin about building partnerships between academia, government and commerce and why New York City is the perfect “living laboratory.”

Don’t Miss a Beat

NYU researchers crunch data from cameras, sensors, cellphones, and records to capture the city’s pulse in real time.

 

NEW YORK – As befits a real estate project dubbed “America’s biggest . . . ever” by Fortune, the $20 billion, 26-acre Hudson Yards development rising on Manhattan’s West Side boasts some ambitious engineering. There’s the planned cluster of skyscrapers erected atop steel-and-concrete platforms to accommodate the fully functioning Penn Station rail yards beneath, all supported by caissons drilled into bedrock. There’s the $100 million micro-grid and co-generation plant, ready with standby power in case of a superstorm blackout, and trash sorting and disposal via high-speed pneumatic tubes.

And then there are the occupants, themselves an engineering test bed. The Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), in a partnership with developers Related Companies and Oxford Properties, plans to court Hudson Yards’ residents and office workers as collaborators in a “smart city,” monitoring, measuring, and modeling the community’s pulse and health in real time. An array of built-in sensors, cameras, and individual smartphones will relay data on such vital signs as air quality, movement of people, recovery of recyclables, noise levels, and energy and water use.

The Next Silicon Valley? New York’s tech hub is taking shape – and enrolling grad students

Back in 2010, then-mayor Michael Bloomberg threw down a challenge: New York City would put up $400 million worth of land and infrastructure upgrades to seed a technology hub that would give Silicon Valley a run for its money. Universities would compete for the central role by proposing plans for an applied sciences research facility. The payoff over 30 years, Bloomberg predicted, would be some 400 new companies, billions of dollars in economic activity and nearly 30,000 new jobs.

Today, Bloomberg is back in the business world, running his namesake media company. Meanwhile, Applied Sciences NYC is taking shape with not one but four new grad-school options for those interested in applying technological know-how to contemporary problems. All four get a piece of the city’s largesse. Three of the programs created by the competition already have students on campus; another could open this year.

From the Milky Way to Midtown, A New Way to See a City

The glare of city lights dims the stars for urban dwellers around the world, but a New York University program is borrowing an idea from astronomy to see its hometown in a new way. If the experiment lives up to its early promise, it will yield a tool that will help urban buildings everywhere be more sustainable.

At a first-of-its-kind “urban observatory” created by NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, a special high-tech camera captures aspects of building performance that are invisible to the naked eye, such as heat leaks, energy efficiency and insulation. Though the project is still in the demonstration phase, it is expected to yield insights about building performance and urban life that will benefit both the public and private sectors.

CUSP’s urban observatory uses an eight-megapixel camera perched on top of a building in downtown Brooklyn to capture a panoramic image of downtown and midtown Manhattan every 10 seconds. Unlike a satellite, the CUSP camera offers both an unchanging perspective and easy, low-cost operation, according to the project team.

The big data generated by the CUSP observatory could be mined for solutions to urban problems, a promising development as populations become increasingly concentrated in cities.

“For the first time in history, 50 percent of the world is urban,” Maureen McAvey, senior resident fellow at the Urban Land Institute, told CPE. Fully 85 percent of the population of the United States is concentrated in metropolitan areas. Meanwhile, urban populations are rapidly expanding in Asia, Africa and South America.

What’s the Big Deal With Big Data?

On Manhattan’s West Side, construction crews are erecting Hudson Yards, a massive $20 billion office, retail and residential complex that’s the biggest real estate development in New York City since Rockefeller Center in the 1930s. But the project is remarkable not just because of its five office towers and 5,000 residences, but because it’s the first large-scale city neighborhood in the world that’s being designed to collect Big Data—that is, enormous sets of information—and utilize it to tinker with the quality of everyday life.

When the complex is completed in a few years, a vast number of sensors embedded both indoors and outdoors continuously will collect data on everything from energy and water use and how much garbage and carbon dioxide residents generate, to the precise ebb and flow of pedestrian traffic and public transportation usage. All that data will flow into the Internet cloud, where the complex’s management will be able to monitor and analyze it in the search for cost savings and ways to make things operate more smoothly. But that’s not all. Eventually, residents may be offered a chance to “opt-in” and use their smart phones to provide even more data about themselves, in exchange for being able to use the cloud themselves for things such as guidance on where to hail a taxi.

OLD CITIES, NEW BIG DATA

Big datasets have been used by authorities and public bodies for centuries, whether in the form of the national census, maps, surveys or public records. What is new is the sheer volume, speed, diversity, scope and resolution afforded by ‘big data’, a term that describes the wealth of information now available thanks to a combination of ubiquitous computing and sophisticated data analytics. To optimists, this avalanche of information, if harnessed, provides valuable insights for everyone from company executives to consumers and from governments to citizens.

Urban planning and city services have always been a fundamental part of this story, with integrated data systems bringing a ‘second electrification’ to the world’s metropolises. As case studies of big data’s urban applications emerge around the world, what are we learning about the kinds of contexts which are proving most receptive to it? More specifically, how relevant is the age of a city in determining its interest in, and ability to use, big data? This briefing explores how both old and new cities have distinct advantages and disadvantages in their ability to use big data effectively, assessing how they deploy the tools, the lessons they can learn from each other, and their common challenges.

Claudio Silva receives IEEE’s 2014 Visualization Technical Achievement Award

Claudio Silva

On November 11, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) presented its 2014 Visualization and Technical Achievement Award to Claudio T. Silva, Head of Disciplines at CUSP and professor of Computer Science and Engineering at NYU’s Polytechnic School of Engineering.

The award, one of the highest honors given by the IEEE Computer Science Society’s Technical Committee on Visualization and Graphics (VGTC), recognizes Silva’s seminal advances to geometric computing for visualization and contributions to the development of the VisTrails data exploration system. The committee also cited Silva’s participation in various multidisciplinary projects.

VisTrails systematically maintains provenance for the data exploration process by capturing all the steps researchers follow in the course of an experiment—much like document-tracking applications in Microsoft Word and Google Docs track changes to a document. Tracking provenance is essential because that information allows a researcher to accurately reproduce his or her own results or the results of others, even if they involve hundreds of parameters and complex data sets.

“Consider that when a researcher is engaged in an exploratory process, working with simulations, data analysis, and visualization, for example, very little is repeated during the analysis process; change is the norm, and new workflows are constantly being generated,” Silva explained. “VisTrails manages these rapidly evolving workflows. To make a simple analogy, using it is like having someone in the lab watching over your shoulder and taking concise notes.”

“Clauio Silva has blazed a trail of innovation in visualization that has strongly influenced many researchers, including myself,” said Amitabh Varshney, director of the IEEE Visualization and Graphics Technical Committee and a professor of computer science and the director of the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland. “One of the reasons his work has had such a significant impact is because it combines elegant foundational research with real-world applications. This award is a well-deserved recognition of Claudio’s illustrious accomplishments and stunning impact.”

NYU CUSP Unveils First-of-its-Kind ‘Urban Observatory’ in Downtown Brooklyn

New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) today unveiled its Urban Observatory, a project that will persistently observe and analyze New York City in an effort to better understand the “pulse of the city” in various states, such as mobility, energy use, communications and economics. The data gathered from the Urban Observatory will ultimately be used to improve various aspects of urban life, including energy efficiency, detecting releases of hazardous material, tracking pollution plumes, aiding in post-blackout restoration of electrical power, and more.

“This technology comes at an opportune time when about 80% of the U.S. population and 50% of the global population live in cities, said Dr. Steven Koonin, NYU CUSP’s founding director. “We’ll take these large data sets and turn them into solutions for city-wide problems, helping us to better understand our urban environment and improve the quality of life for citizens around the world.”

The CUSP Urban Observatory, which is still in its demonstration phase, uses an 8 megapixel camera situated atop a building in Downtown Brooklyn to quantify the dynamics of New York City by capturing one panoramic, long-distance image of Lower and Midtown Manhattan every 10 seconds. These observations differ from those of a satellite due to the fixed urban vantage point, which offer an unchanging perspective, with easy and low cost operations. Techniques adapted from astronomy are used to analyze the images.

Strict protocols have been observed to protect the privacy of those individuals in the field of view – no more than a few pixels cover the closest sources in the scene and images are significantly blurred to ensure that no personal detail is ever captured. Additionally, all analyses have been performed at the aggregate level and any human inspection has been done without the knowledge of the precise location of the source.

CUSP’s Urban Observatory seeks high impact science and applications to enhance public well-being, city operations, and future urban design and combines correlative data including administrative records, original measurements, and current topography. Although the technology is currently being used to solely observe New York City, CUSP hopes to share this with other major cities, such as London, Chicago, and Hong Kong, for similar use and application.

A team of CUSP scientists have been working on this technology for almost two years. Data will be made available for analysis by CUSP personnel and others by proposal.

The upper panel shows a single snapshot of Midtown and the Lower East Side of Manhattan at roughly 11:00AM.  Although difficult to see with the naked eye, the image contains two exhaust plumes generated by one of the buildings in the scene.  The processed image in the bottom panel removes the objects which are constant (like buildings) and keeps only objects which are moving (like the plumes).  With this technique, the Urban Observatory's data processing algorithms are able to extract the location of the faint emission plumes.
The upper panel shows a single snapshot of Midtown and the Lower East Side of Manhattan at roughly 11:00AM. Although difficult to see with the naked eye, the image contains two exhaust plumes generated by one of the buildings in the scene. The processed image in the bottom panel removes the objects which are constant (like buildings) and keeps only objects which are moving (like the plumes). With this technique, the Urban Observatory’s data processing algorithms are able to extract the location of the faint emission plumes.

 

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

 

Contact
Kim Alfred, CUSP
917.392.0859
kim.alfred@nyu.edu

Megan Romano, The Marino Organization
212.889.0808
megan@themarino.org

 

NYU’S CENTER FOR URBAN SCIENCE & PROGRESS GRADUATES INAUGURAL CLASS

NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Kyle Kimball today celebrated the graduation of CUSP’s inaugural class of students during a ceremony held at NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts.

The CUSP program, created as part of the City of New York’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative, is graduating a class of 23 students who have successfully completed a Master of Science program in Applied Urban Science and Informatics. These graduates will now transition into various careers where they will use their education to analyze large-scale data, from a variety of sources, in an effort to understand and address real-world challenges in the urban context, while critically transforming the City’s capacity for applied sciences and engineering and increasing its global competitiveness.

“We are very proud to celebrate the graduation of our first class of students,” said CUSP Director Steve Koonin. “These graduates will move on to work for private technology firms, public sector agencies, and in entrepreneurship and new venture creation. We truly believe that the education they have received at CUSP, combined with their desire to have an impact on the cities in which they live, will enable them to thrive as urban scientists who will help cities around the world become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient.”

“On behalf of Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York, I commend the graduates of the inaugural CUSP class and the many academic and private sector technology partners who have built this extraordinary program,” said Kyle Kimball, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation. “This commencement follows through on the promise of the City’s Applied Sciences initiative to create a new cohort of homegrown talent dedicated to tackling the prominent urban challenges of our time, while powering and diversifying the City’s economy. Today’s graduates have already helped cement New York City as a global center of commerce and culture by using our streets as a living laboratory and, as they create new companies and hire New Yorkers to staff them, the great work being done here will create meaningful, lasting economic opportunity across the City.”

CUSP’s inaugural class entered the program with degrees from 24 universities around the world and came with training in more than 20 different academic disciplines – some from the core disciplines like Mathematics, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering and Physics; others with strong preparation in the social sciences such as Sociology, Political Science, and Urban Studies & Planning.

During CUSP’s intensive, one-year, three-semester M.S. program, students study courses in the science of cities, urban informatics, and information and communication technology in cities. They selected from multiple policy domains to gain breadth and depth in the application of big data analytics to urban problems.  The program also contains a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation leadership, and students are given the option to study technology entrepreneurship or “change leadership” in an existing organization.  The core of the one-year curriculum is a two-semester project – the Urban Science Intensive – during which students, working closely with mentors from CUSP’s Industrial and National Laboratory partners, apply the principles of informatics to address an actual urban problem with a New York City agency to have a direct and meaningful impact on the quality of life in cities.

CUSP was designated in 2012 as part of the City’s groundbreaking Applied Sciences NYC initiative, which was created by NYCEDC to expand the City’s top-tier applied sciences and engineering campuses to help spur economic growth and increase the city’s global competitiveness. The initiative offered to provide City-owned land and seed investments of City capital to universities interested in establishing or expanding applied sciences and engineering programs in New York City. CUSP is currently operating at 1 Metrotech Center in Downtown Brooklyn while its permanent home at 370 Jay Street, formerly occupied by the MTA and NYPD, is developed. CUSP’s presence in Downtown Brooklyn was critical to establishing the area as one of the City’s foremost tech hubs.

Collectively, CUSP, along with the Cornell-Tech, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon Applied Sciences projects, are expected to generate more than $33.2 billion in nominal economic activity, over 48,000 permanent and construction jobs, and approximately 1,000 spin-off companies by 2046, fulfilling the initiative’s goal of dramatically transforming the City’s economy for the 21st century.

When all four Applied Sciences NYC projects are fully underway, the number of full-time, graduate engineering students enrolled in New York City Master’s and Ph.D. programs will more than double, ensuring the strength of New York City’s position in a global economy driven by technological fluency and innovation. Using New York City as its laboratory and classroom, CUSP has set out to respond to the City’s challenge by setting the research agenda for “the science of cities,” and educating the next generation of engineers in how to apply this research, bring innovative ideas to a world market, and create a new, fast-growing and indispensable industry.

In its first academic year, CUSP has continued to set the standard for Big Data institutions across the globe. Thus far, the Center has experienced tremendous success, including:

  • Partnering with Related Companies to lay the groundwork for and launch the first “Quantified Community” in New York City’s Hudson Yards;
  • Sponsoring, and contributing to, the most definitive book to date on the intersection of big data, privacy, and the public: “Big Data, Privacy, and the Public Good: Frameworks for Engagement”;
  • Partnering with King’s College London and the University of Warwick to create CUSP London, an important step in the realization of CUSP’s objective of leading and nurturing a global entrepreneurial innovative ecosystem;
  • And securing top-notch companies, government agencies, educational institutions, and organizations as partners.

Looking to the future, CUSP has nearly completed its selection of graduate students for the Class of 2015, a class that is anticipated to be nearly triple the size of the Class of 2014. NYU also has unveiled its plans to turn the long-dormant 370 Jay Street in Downtown Brooklyn into a modern, sustainable academic center that will serve as the future home of CUSP.

For more information on CUSP, its programs and initiatives, please visit the Center’s website, www.cusp.nyu.edu.

 

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

About NYCEDC

New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City’s primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC’s mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City’s competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City’s many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.

 

Beyond The Quantified Self: The World’s Largest Quantified Community

So-called “smart” cities and communities are sprouting around the world, from the urban laboratory that is the Spanish port city of Santander to a huge residential energy research project that has been running for years in Austin, Texas.

Now a new “quantified community” built from scratch is about to take shape, and it’s on the biggest stage yet: The Hudson Yards, the largest private real estate project ever in the United States, which is slated for construction on Manhattan’s underdeveloped West Side beginning this year.

Hudson Yards to become first ‘quantified community’

New York University is teaming up with the developers of the Hudson Yards in the hopes big data collected from the future 28-acre complex will help it run more efficiently and make it a better place to live and work.

New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress announced Monday that the mixed-use neighborhood being built over a Long Island Railroad yard on the far West Side of Manhattan will be the first “quantified community” in the entire country, meaning the university, in concert with Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group, will collect information on pedestrian traffic, air quality, energy production and consumption and even the health and activity levels of workers and residents.

NYU CUSP, Related Companies, and Oxford Properties Group Team Up to Create “First Quantified Community” in the United States at Hudson Yards

New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) today announced that it will partner with Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group to create the nation’s first “Quantified Community” – a fully-instrumented urban neighborhood that will measure and analyze key physical and environmental attributes at Hudson Yards.

This “Quantified Community” will create an interactive, data-driven experience for tenants and owners of the 28 acre mixed-use development now being built on Manhattan’s West Side. In line with the development’s overall aim of improving operational efficiencies, productivity, and quality of life, CUSP will use the data to help New York City – and, ultimately, cities across the world – become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient. Related and Oxford will use the data to continually improve the worker, resident, and visitor experience, while also making the neighborhood more efficient.

CUSP and Related/Oxford are still developing the final list of attributes that will be measured in Hudson Yards, but examples include:

  • Measuring, modeling, and predicting pedestrian flows through traffic and transit points, open spaces, and retail space.
  • Gauging air quality both within buildings and across the open spaces and surrounding areas.
  • Measuring health and activity levels of residents and workers using a custom-designed, opt-in mobile application.
  • Measuring and benchmarking solid waste with particular focus on increasing the recovery of recyclables and organic (i.e. food) waste.
  • Measuring and modeling of energy production and usage throughout the project, including optimization of on-site cogeneration plant and thermal microgrid.

Dr. Constantine Kontokosta, PE, Deputy Director & Head of the Quantified Community initiative at CUSP said, “The Quantified Community will create a unique experimental environment that provides a testing ground for new physical and informatics technologies and analytics capabilities, which will allow for unprecedented studies in urban engineering, urban systems operation, and planning, and the social sciences. Given the scale and significance of Hudson Yards, we believe that our partnership with Related will help to create a model for future sustainable, data-driven urban development.”

Jay Cross, President of Related Hudson Yards said,The ability to conceive of and develop an entirely new neighborhood creates tremendous opportunities. Hudson Yards will be the most connected, measured, and technologically advanced digital district in the nation. Our cutting-edge commercial tenants are drawn to Hudson Yards for its state-of-the-art infrastructure featuring unprecedented wired, wireless, broadband, and satellite connectivity; and energy optimization through on-site power generation and central waste systems. Through our partnership with CUSP we will harness big data to continually innovate, optimize and enhance the employee, resident, and visitor experience.”

Dr. Steven Koonin, Director of CUSP said, “This partnership between Hudson Yards and CUSP is successful because Related and Oxford understand the importance of sensor-enriched environments in creating the most efficient and livable cities of the future. CUSP aims to be a leader and innovator in the emerging field of ‘Urban Informatics’ – the observation, analysis, and modeling of cities – and our first Quantified Community at Hudson Yards is a great step toward this goal. CUSP is extremely grateful for this partnership and we look forward to working with them as this project continues to take shape.”

 

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress
CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

 

About Hudson Yards

Hudson Yards, developed by Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, is the largest private real estate development in the nation’s history and the largest development in New York City since Rockefeller Center. Hudson Yards will be a hub of connectivity, community, culture, and creativity. It is anticipated that more than 24 million people will visit Hudson Yards every year. The site itself will include 17 million square feet of commercial and residential space, more than 100 shops and restaurants, approximately 5,000 residences, Culture Shed, 14-acres of public open space, a new 750-seat public school and a 150-room luxury hotel – all offering unparalleled amenities for residents, employees, and guests. The development of Hudson Yards will create more than 23,000 construction jobs, and when completed in 2024, more than 40,000 people a day will either work in or call Hudson Yards their home. For more information on Hudson Yards please visit http://www.hudsonyardsnewyork.com/

 

Media Contacts:

Kim Alfred, CUSP - 917.392.0859

kim.alfred@nyu.edu

Joanna Rose, Related Companies - 212.801.3902

jrose@related.com

Elizabeth Latino, The Marino Organization - 212.889.0808

elizabeth@themarino.org

Huge New York Development Project Becomes a Data Science Lab

Hudson Yards is a huge estate development project, the largest in New York since Rockefeller Center. It is to include office towers, apartments, shops, a luxury hotel, a public school and acres of public space. Construction began at the end of 2012, and has picked up recently.

But the sprawling development on Manhattan’s West Side, built on top of old rail yards along the Hudson River, will also become an urban laboratory for data science. The developers, Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group, are teaming up with New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress to create a “quantified community.”

Transatlantic Science Forum Conference at NYU CUSP – Part 1

Transatlantic Science Forum Conference at NYU CUSP – Part 2

Transatlantic Science Forum Conference at NYU CUSP – Part 3

Pat Bowers

Steven Koonin’s Growing Army of Big-Data Wizards is out to Make New York a Better City

Forget the ivory tower. Some new college programs launching in New York are tied into improving city life and boosting the economy. For example, Steven Koonin, director of New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), located in MetroTech in Brooklyn, is on the cutting edge of using big data to create jobs in New York in the private sector and government.

Launched in April 2012, CUSP currently is on target to graduate 24 master’s-degree students next year. But in the next decade, the program is primed to grow and graduate 500 master’s and doctoral students.

Koonin, a native New Yorker, has strong credentials. He served as under secretary at the Department of Energy from 2009 through 2001. He’s also been associated with the Institute for Defense Analyses and has a bachelor of science from Caltech and a doctorate from MIT.

In this question-and-answer session, Koonin discusses how CUSP works with government, what skills its graduates possess and how it’s on the cutting edge.

CUSP Collaborates in Public Mapping Mission

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CUSP is teaming up with NYU’s Govlab, MIT Media Lab, Public Lab and Peer-2-Peer University to offer a novel hybrid of massive open online course (MOOC) and hands-on team-based field work. The theme of the mission is using cameras attached to tethered balloons and kites for environmental mapping.

Online Seminar: Nov 22, 2013, 3:30PM EST – 5:00PM EST

Hands-On Mission: Dec 7, 2013, 11AM EST – 6:00PM EST.

In the online seminar, participants will meet community innovators who have mapped oil spills, landfills or industrial pollution sites. They will hear about how community-based mapping can influence public policy. Confirmed panelists include Francois Grey, CUSP, Jeff Warren, Public Lab, and Beth Noveck, The GovLab.

After the seminar, participants will form teams, build a balloon or kite mapping kit, and make plans for their hands-on mapping mission, which takes place two weeks after the online seminar. At the end of the mission, all teams will meet online to share images and stories.

Registration for this event is free at:

http://www.thegovlabacademy.org/public-mapping-mission/

Christine Battaglia

A School Devoted Entirely to the ‘Science of Cities’

The Center for Urban Science and Progress, a new research center that recently welcomed its first students and faculty in downtown Brooklyn, certainly has its eyes on the city. The ceiling-high windows of the main office track New York’s sites and skyscrapers for miles — even catching a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. One long wall of an entire room is lined with dozens of flatscreen panels that will soon display the loads of urban data the center was created to capture.

“It’s real fun to be living in the middle of something you’re trying to study at the same time,” says Steven Koonin, the center’s director. “That’s why we’re here with that view.”

The International Foundation for Greece Honors NYU CUSP’s Dr. Aristides Patrinos with Greek Postage Stamp

The Interational Foundation for Greece (IFG) has announced that Dr. Aristides Patrinos, Deputy Director for Research at New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), is one of this year’s recipients of the IFG Award, a tribute to those of Greek decent living beyond its borders with outstanding accomplishments in the areas of science, art, entrepreneurship, film and theater, media and philanthropy. To celebrate Dr. Patrinos’ accomplishments as this year’s science honoree, as well as the accomplishments of all the 2013 IFG Award recipients, the IFG, in conjunction with Greece’s Hellenic Post, has issued a commemorative collection of postage stamps bearing the likeness of each honoree.

“I am honored to receive this tribute from IFG, and humbled to be placed in a category with other Greeks whose achievements have made our country so incredibly proud,” said Dr. Aristides Patrinos. “My Greek roots are – and always will be – at the heart of everything that I do, and I will continue to strive to embody the Greek ideal as I advance in my career.”

The IFG Science Award, in particular, honors international scientists who have devoted themselves to the service of mankind and society and whose innovative research has become a bright example in the scientific world. The stamp collection will remain in circulation for one year and each honoree receives their personal stamp in gold.  All the recipients were honored at a ceremony on September 16, 2013 at the Acropolis Museum in the presence of political leaders, distinguished goodwill ambassadors, and the Greek and international media.

“The issuance of the stamp is a wonderful recognition of Dr. Patrinos’ achievements in advancing both environmental science and genomics, said Dr. Steven Koonin, Director of CUSP. “ We’re extremely fortunate that he’s now applying those same talents to CUSP’s study of Urban Science.”

Dr. Patrinos came to CUSP from Synthetic Genomics where he previously served as its President and Senior Vice President for Corporate Affairs.  He directed research and business activities in biotechnology for renewable fuels and chemicals and led the government affairs office.  Previously, Dr. Patrinos spent almost two decades in senior leadership posts within the Department of Energy (DOE), most notably as the Director of the Office of Biological & Environmental Research.  In that role, Dr. Patrinos managed research programs in genomics, structural biology, nuclear medicine, environmental remediation and global environmental change.  He was also instrumental in launching the Department’s part of the U.S. Global Change Research Program, establishing the Human Genome Project and building DOE’s Joint Genome Institute.

Earlier in his career, Dr. Patrinos was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Sciences at the University of Rochester and also served as a research scientist at both Oak Ridge and Brookhaven National Laboratories.  He is the recipient of several prestigious honors and awards, including three Presidential Rank Awards, two U.S. Secretary of Energy’s Gold Medals, and the ComputerWorld Smithsonian Platinum Technology Award.  Dr. Patrinos earned his undergraduate degree in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering from the National Technical University of Athens and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Astronautical Science from Northwestern University.

 

# # #

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University and NYU-Poly with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

 

About the International Foundation for Greece

The “International Foundation for Greece” has been founded with the aim of developing an international network of support for groups of people enduring serious problems during the difficult period of the economic crisis in Greece. The foundation is initially aiming to finance and reform hospital units, to buy medical equipment, acquire ambulances and other high speed vehicles and to provide heating for schools and charitable organizations throughout Greece. It is also developing a means for whoever wants to contribute so that help can reach its target quickly and effectively.

 

Press Inquiries:

Kim Alfred – CUSP

917.392.0859

kim.alfred@nyu.edu

Elizabeth Latino – The Marino Organization

212.889.0808

elizabeth@themarino.org

Big Data 101: How Higher Ed Is Teaching Data Science

There’s little garnering more buzz today than Big Data. But there are clues that Big Data is more than just the latest technology fad. One such indicator is theIBM Academic Initiative.

Big Blue has partnered with more than 1,000 universities around the world to create academic opportunities for students interested in studying data analytics. Ranging from assistance in developing stand-alone courses to the creation of entire ­degree programs with schools of business or engineering,IBM’s involvement telegraphs the importance of Big Data to the future of ­computing.

“When you have to create data, store it, manage it, distribute it and then build models that predict the future from it, that’s IBM’s business,” says Jurij R. Paraszczak, leader of the company’s Research Smarter Cities program.

“If data science works, and we think it will, it will create an ­entirely new ability for computation,” ­Paraszczak says.

New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) was developed in partnership with IBM for input and guidance from its Smarter Cities program and several other academic and industrial partners, in response to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s request for proposals for the ­Applied ­Sciences NYC initiative.

NYU Announces Winners of “Grand Challenge” Science Competition

New York University today announced it is awarding $250,000 each to two teams of researchers in its newly created “Grand Challenge” competition to promote significant scientific research that has the potential to solve major national or global problems.

The two winners, which were selected from among 32 applicants, are a “MetaGenome” project that will map the microbial genome of New York City and a brain-machine technology that use neural signals to wirelessly enable sensory and motor prosthetics.

The aim of the Grand Challenge is to create ambitious but achievable goals that harness technology to solve important societal and health problems. The concept was first originated more than a century ago by mathematician David Hilbert, who listed 23 great unsolved mathematical problems.

NYU’s competition was created in response to President Obama’s call on universities and other institutions to identify and initiate Grand Challenges that would promote great research. (http://www.whitehouse.gov/administration/eop/ostp/grand-challenges)

Thomas Kalil, Deputy Director for Technology and Innovation of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, said, “The President has called on research universities, companies, and foundations to join him in identifying Grand Challenges to promote scientific breakthroughs that advance national and global priorities, and to help create new industries and jobs that we can only dream about today. We commend NYU for launching a competition for research projects targeted at Grand Challenges, and we look forward to the seeing the results of the winners’ research.”

Deputy Mayor Robert Steel said, “New York City was built on innovation and the pursuit of big ideas, and the establishment of the Center for Urban Science and Progress is a great example of that. Their selection as a winner in NYU’s Grand Challenge is a tangible sign that Applied Sciences NYC is already encouraging scientific research that will strengthen our economy and improve the lives of New Yorkers.”

“NYU faculty and alumni have helped create some of the world’s most important technological breakthroughs, from the creation of the telegraph to the treatment for polio,” said Paul Horn, NYU senior vice provost for research. “The Grand Challenge demonstrates that NYU remains at the forefront of technology and supports research that can capture the public imagination and benefit all mankind.”

The $250,000 grants are unrestricted seed funds to help the two projects get off the ground. The University will also help the two winning teams generate support from philanthropies, individuals, foundations, governments, and corporations to continue their research. The seed money comes from the proceeds of spin-offs that used technologies and discoveries developed by the NYU faculty.

Thirty-two teams of NYU faculty submitted applications in the six-month competition for the Grand Challenge awards. The final awards were made by a distinguished external advisory committee. The applications were judged on validity, usability, originality, and affordability.

Here are descriptions of the two winning research projects:

Mapping NYC’s “MetaGenome”:

This project aims to map New York City’s microbial MetaGenome and could lead to the identification of potential bio-threats and improve the health of all New Yorkers. It could help predict and stifle flu epidemics as well as gauge the impact on the environment of events such as 9/11 and Hurricane Sandy. Researchers plan to gather microbial samples from sewage lines in all five boroughs and from dollar bills circulating in New York City–sources that capture many of the components of the city’s MetaGenome.

The team, led by biology Professor Jane Carlton, director of the NYU Center for Genomics and Systems Biology, includes Ari Patrinos, deputy director for research at Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP); Richard Bonneau, an associate professor in the Department of Biology and at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; Patrick Eichenberger, an associate professor in the Department of Biology; Steven Koonin, director of CUSP; Cláudio Silva, head of disciplines at CUSP; Martin Blaser, director of the Human Microbiome Program at NYU School of Medicine; and Cheryl Healton, director of NYU’s Global Institute of Public Health and dean of Global Public Health.

Smart Neuroprosthetics: Brain-Machine Interfaces for the 21st Century:

This project seeks to develop a new generation of powerful wireless implantable devices that could be used to manipulate prosthetic limbs, improve auditory prosthetic implants, or improve impaired learning, memory, or social cognition.  The team will seek to build on technology already in its infancy. Current implantable devices are large, use too many wires, and interact imperfectly with the brain. NYU-Poly is already working on smaller, high-resolution, wearable, and bendable device arrays. The Grand Challenge team will work to make the devices wireless and ultimately usable for medical purposes. This technology could also open a new window into understanding brain function.

The team is led by engineering Professor Jonathan Viventi of NYU-Poly and includes Robert Froemke, professor of otolaryngology at the School of Medicine; Michael Long, professor of physiology and neuroscience at the School of Medicine; Dan Sanes, professor in the Center for Neural Science; and Bijan Pesaran, professor in the Center for Neural Science.

 

New York University, founded in 1831, is one of the world’s foremost research universities and a member of the selective Association of American Universities. NYU has degree-granting university campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai; has eleven other global academic sites, including London, Paris, Florence, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires, and Accra; and sends more students to study abroad than any other U.S. university.  Through its numerous schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and performing arts, music and studio arts, public administration, social work, engineering, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

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Media Contacts:

Phil Lentz - 212.998.6833

Philip.lentz@nyu.edu

 

James Devitt - 212.998.6808

James.devitt@nyu.edu

Mayor Bloomberg Welcomes NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress Inaugural Graduate Class

CUSP Student Photo with Mayor Bloomberg

Brooklyn, NY — August 26: Mayor Bloomberg was on hand to welcome the inaugural class of graduate students at New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP). The NYU center was designated just last year as part of the City’s groundbreaking Applied Sciences NYC initiative, which seeks to increase New York City’s capacity for applied sciences. Building on its mission to define the emerging field of Urban Informatics, CUSP will shape its students into the next generation of scientists who will understand urban data sources and how to manipulate and integrate large, diverse datasets. These skills will enable them to develop solutions to pressing urban problems that recognize and account for the constraints embedded in complex urban systems.

“NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress will establish New York City as a global leader in urban informatics, and I’d like to welcome their inaugural class of graduate students to Downtown Brooklyn,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “As a key part of our Applied Sciences initiative, we are excited to see CUSP attract even more of the best and brightest from around the world to New York City.”

“We are truly excited to welcome our first class of students,” said CUSP Director Steve Koonin.  “We believe that CUSP’s curriculum offers a vigorous, dynamic and comprehensive educational program.  This first group of students has outstanding credentials, validating the idea that the best young minds are drawn to studying cities, and we are particularly honored to have Mayor Bloomberg – whose Applied Sciences NYC initiative made all this possible – here to welcome them.   Using New York City as its classroom, this accomplished group of students, along with CUSP researchers, will be poised to study and use big data analytics to drive decision-making in urban areas.  We believe that CUSP’s graduates will go on to work for private technology firms, public sector agencies, and in entrepreneurship and new venture creation.”

The incoming class of 25 students will receive a Master of Science in Applied Urban Science and Informatics. The class holds degrees from 24 universities around the world and come with training in more than 20 different academic disciplines – some from the core disciplines like Mathematics, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering and Physics; others with strong preparation in the social sciences such as Sociology, Political Science, and Urban Studies & Planning.  The unprecedented range of backgrounds illustrates the diversity of the inaugural class ranging from one student with a Ph.D. in Mathematics and another with a degree in Studio Art with near perfect quantitative GRE scores.

The M.S. program offers students the opportunity to engage in the interdisciplinary study of urban science and informatics and to apply their technical skills to challenges facing cities around the world.  The intensive, one-year, three-semester M.S. program provides students with core courses in the science of cities, urban informatics, and information and communication technology in cities.  Students will select from multiple policy domains to gain breadth and depth in the application of big data analytics to urban problems.  The program also contains a focus on entrepreneurship and innovation leadership, and students will be given the option to study technology entrepreneurship or “change leadership” in an existing organization.  The core of the one-year curriculum is a two-semester project – the Urban Science Intensive – during which students, working closely with mentors from CUSP’s Industrial and National Laboratory partners, will apply the principles of informatics to address an actual urban problem with a New York City agency to have a direct and meaningful impact on the quality of life in cities.

About New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New YorkUniversity and NYU-Poly with a consortium of world-class universities and the foremost international technology companies to address the needs of cities. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world.  This research will make CUSP the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics”.  For more news and information on CUSP, please visit http://cusp.nyu.edu/.

Contact:

Kim Alfred. CUSP – 917.392.0859
kim.alfred@nyu.edu

John Marino, The Marino Organization – 212.889.0808
john@themarino.org

Life in the City Is Essentially One Giant Math Problem

Experts in the emerging field of quantitative urbanism believe that many aspects of modern cities can be reduced to mathematical formulas.

Glen Whitney stands at a point on the surface of the Earth, north latitude 40.742087, west longitude 73.988242, which is near the center of Madison Square Park, in New York City. Behind him is the city’s newest museum, the Museum of Mathematics, which Whitney, a former Wall Street trader, founded and now runs as executive director. He is facing one of New York’s landmarks, the Flatiron Building, which got its name because its wedge- like shape reminded people of a clothes iron. Whitney observes that from this perspective you can’t tell that the building, following the shape of its block, is actually a right triangle—a shape that would be useless for pressing clothes—although the models sold in souvenir shops represent it in idealized form as an isosceles, with equal angles at the base. People want to see things as symmetrical, he muses. He points to the building’s narrow prow, whose outline corresponds to the acute angle at which Broadway crosses Fifth Avenue.

“The cross street here is 23rd Street,” Whitney says, “and if you measure the angle at the building’s point, it is close to 23 degrees, which also happens to be approximately the angle of inclination of the Earth’s axis of rotation.”

“That’s remarkable,” he is told.