Communications Archives - NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress

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.