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Constantine Kontokosta Is On The Frontlines Of Using Data For Good In Cities

Constantine Kontokosta — Assistant Professor in Tandon’s Department of Civil and Urban Engineering and the NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), the Director of the Urban Intelligence Lab, and the Deputy Director for Academics at CUSP — is using data analytics to advance the fundamental understanding of how cities work and how data-driven decision-making can improve city operations, policy, and planning.

Building on his recent National Science Foundation CAREER award and grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, he’s making a difference in New York City … and beyond.

Fall 2017 Prospective Student Webinar

NYCx Challenges

New York City has launched NYCx, a program that invites both local and global entrepreneurs, start up companies, and community organizations to use New York City as a testing ground for ideas and technologies that can positively impact all New Yorkers.

NYCx’s Challenge Program seeks creative technology solutions to address several targeted problems in urban life that include 1) how best to affordably deploy high-speed wireless connectivity, 2) ways to reduce litter and increase recycling rates, and 3) how best to support safe nighttime use of public spaces and increase use of neighborhood corridors.

For more information about these challenges and how you can submit proposals, please click here.

De Blasio Administration and Brownsville Community Leaders Announce NYCx Co-Lab Challenges in Brownsville

City invites tech community to propose and test new solutions to modernize public infrastructure, support neighborhood development, and bridge the digital divide

NEW YORK— Mayor Bill de Blasio, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, and Chief Technology Officer Miguel Gamiño, Jr. announced the launch of applications inviting startups, entrepreneurs and independent teams to propose tech solutions that address priority needs in the neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn.

NYCx, the world’s first municipal program to transform urban spaces into hubs for tech collaboration, research, testing and development was announced last week and will utilize Moonshot and Co-Lab Challenges to engage the tech industry to solve real-world problems and help the City advance its goals to be the most fair, equitable and sustainable city in the world.

“Technology is an inescapable, critical part of our lives and the future of our communities,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Now, more than ever New York must take a leadership role in shaping a future that protects our values, strengthens inclusiveness and equity of our communities and presents a model of leadership for other cities around the world.”

“NYCx represents an important step forward in spurring economic development while addressing the critical needs of our neighborhoods,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen. “This program allows New Yorkers to benefit from the opportunities that come with advancements in the tech ecosystem and confirms that NYC is the global capital of innovation.”

“We’re proud of the work that we’ve done with community leaders to identify their needs and to develop the NYCx Co-Lab challenges,” said Miguel Gamiño, Jr., Chief Technology Officer “It’s been truly collaborative, and NYCx Co-Labs is an evolution of our efforts and will benefit all New Yorkers as we expand this program to all five boroughs.”

The NYCx Co-Labs are neighborhood-based partnership to co-design a set of challenges and make neighborhood spaces available for testing new technologies aiming to address the neighborhood’s more pressing needs.

In Brownsville, Brooklyn, community partners and local youth are advising the City on areas of opportunity where technologies can play a role in improving neighborhood quality of life and local economic development.

Challenge respondents have until December 15, 2017 to submit proposals for solutions. Winners will receive funding, access to urban infrastructure and support from City agencies to deploy solutions in Brownsville neighborhood spaces in 2018.

The first Co-Lab Challenge: Safe and Thriving Night Corridors was developed in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO), NYC Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) and the the NYC Department of Transportation (DOT) and calls for creative solutions to enhance public experience, encourage use of public spaces during evening hours, and increase night activity and community safety while boosting economic, civic and cultural opportunity for neighborhood residents. Selected proposals will receive up to $20,000 in funding to test solutions in the Belmont Avenue Business Corridor.

The second Co-Lab Challenge: Zero Waste in Shared Space was developed in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (MOCTO), NYC Department of Sanitation (DSNY) and the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and calls for creative solutions that increase resident participation in recycling and waste-reduction opportunities while reducing trash and litter in the common areas in public housing.  Selected proposals will receive up to $20,000 in funding to test solutions at Brownsville Houses, one of the larger public housing developments in the Brownsville.

The City also announced that the NYCx Co-Labs program will expand to all five boroughs in 2018.

Today’s announcement marks a milestone in the City’s tech equity efforts in Brownsville that started with the Neighborhood Innovation Labs, an initiative launched in March 2017 as part of the Brownsville Plan that brought together communities, government, educators, and technologists to research, develop and demonstrate solutions to improve quality of life and enhance city services. Neighborhood Innovation Labs are a public-private partnership led by the Mayor’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer, New York City Economic Development Corporation, and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. Brownsville Community Justice Center serves as the lead community partner for the City’s first Neighborhood Innovation Lab in Osborn Plaza.

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“The NYCx Co-Lab in Brownsville creates an unprecedented opportunity for researchers to work directly with residents to understand and address problems most important to the community,” said Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE, Assistant Professor of Urban Informatics and Director of the Urban Intelligence Lab at NYU CUSP and NYU School of Engineering. “By building on the lessons from our Quantified Community research initiative, we hope to show how data can be used to help communities become empowered to take action based on rigorous, evidenced-based analysis of what civic technologies and urban innovations work best for them.”

 

Mayor Announces Dramatic Drop in Energy Use and Carbon Emissions in Large Buildings Citywide

Fifth benchmarking report shows that between 2010 and 2015, emissions from 4,200 consistently benchmarked properties dropped by 14 percent, energy use decreased 10 percent

NEW YORK––As part of Mayor de Blasio’s ambitious goals to create more energy efficient buildings and align the city’s emissions reduction goals with the Paris Climate Agreement, the Mayor in partnership with Urban Green Council and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress released New York City’s Energy and Water Use 2014 & 2015 Report, a comprehensive analysis of energy and water usage of large buildings in New York City.

The analysis in the report finds that between 2010 and 2015 greenhouse gas emissions from 4,200 regularly benchmarked properties that missed no more than one benchmarking period, dropped by 14 percent, while energy use decreased 10 percent.

“This new analysis demonstrates that we can continue to achieve substantial reductions in emissions from the largest source in our city, our buildings, and keep New York City on-track toward our 80×50 target,” said Mayor de Blasio. “‎This sets the stage for even more dramatic reductions that will be achieved through mandatory retrofits for the largest, most polluting buildings across the five boroughs. When Trump pulled out of the Paris Agreement, we knew we had to accelerate our local climate actions, and that’s exactly what’s happening.‎”

The report was produced in partnership with Urban Green Council and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress. It is part of a nearly decade long effort to better evaluate and manage energy use in buildings citywide, which contribute nearly 70 percent of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions. Seven years ago, as part of its efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions from buildings, the City of New York launched an initiative to determine how much energy its largest buildings use. Since then, Local Law 84 of 2009 (LL84) requires owners and managers of buildings that occupy at least 50,000 square feet to report the amount of energy and water these buildings use each year. This information can be used to compare the buildings’ energy performance against that of similar buildings. This process of reporting and comparison, known as benchmarking, has since been adopted by many major cities, including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C. and Chicago.

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“This year’s report represents another significant step forward in using data analytics to address the serious urban challenge of climate change,” said Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE, Professor of Urban Informatics at NYU CUSP and Tandon, Director of NYU’s Urban Intelligence Lab, and lead data scientist for the report. “New York City continues to lead on climate action, and data-driven, evidenced-based policies are necessary to achieve the Mayor’s ambitious goals to reduce the City’s carbon emissions and energy use.”

Greenhouse gases cut by 14% under city buildings plan, report says

The city’s largest buildings reduced carbon emissions by 14 percent and energy use by 10 percent between 2010 and 2015, a new reportfound.

The “Greener, Greater Buildings Plan,” which recorded the energy and water use of 4,200 buildings in Manhattan, outlined the importance of ensuring energy efficiency in the city’s building sector, according to the report by the mayor’s office, the Urban Green Council and NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress.

“New Yorkers experienced the future of our climate with superstorm Sandy. And that’s one reason why everyone who lives here does their part where it counts most — in our buildings,” Russell Unger, executive director of the Urban Green Council, said in an emailed statement. “Our report shows the city has taken a real bite out of its carbon emissions, and also that we’ll need to move faster to achieve 80×50.”

Structure of 311 service requests as a signature of urban location

While urban systems demonstrate high spatial heterogeneity, many urban planning, economic and political decisions heavily rely on a deep understanding of local neighborhood contexts. We show that the structure of 311 Service Requests enables one possible way of building a unique signature of the local urban context, thus being able to serve as a low-cost decision support tool for urban stakeholders. Considering examples of New York City, Boston and Chicago, we demonstrate how 311 Service Requests recorded and categorized by type in each neighborhood can be utilized to generate a meaningful classification of locations across the city, based on distinctive socioeconomic profiles. Moreover, the 311-based classification of urban neighborhoods can present sufficient information to model various socioeconomic features. Finally, we show that these characteristics are capable of predicting future trends in comparative local real estate prices. We demonstrate 311 Service Requests data can be used to monitor and predict socioeconomic performance of urban neighborhoods, allowing urban stakeholders to quantify the impacts of their interventions.

 

Click here to review this paper in full.

 

How cities are reworking their approaches to homelessness

When envisioning a “smart city” of the future, it’s hard to imagine a street of driverless cars, LEED platinum buildings and homeless men and women occupying the sidewalks between the two. Yet that vision is a complex reality for cities of all sizes — and the problem is in dire need of a long-term fix.

In decades past, attempted solutions to combat homelessness largely involved opening a shelter to get people off the street. But municipalities and their partners now are delving deeper into different approaches to the problem — including incorporating technological innovations — to get to the root homelessness and reduce the number of people who experience it.

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), there are nearly 550,000 people experiencing homelessness in the United States. From 2015 to 2016, the number of people staying in shelters decreased by 5%, but the number of people staying in unsheltered locations increased by 2%. Although HUD notes a 15% overall decline in homelessness between 2007 and 2016, the issue is still prevalent and cities continue seeking ways to further drop the number.

More municipalities are adopting a holistic approach — known as a services-based system — and shying away from traditional solutions that only offer shelter — known as a facility-based system. Holistic approaches attempt to address the causes of homelessness such as substance abuse, joblessness or inadequate mental health care. Plus, they recognize each person as an individual with different needs rather than treating homelessness as a monolithic issue. Cities using service-based systems rather than facility-based systems find success with many residents becoming more self-sustaining and staying in shelters for a shorter period of time.

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.”

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

 

New York, NY – Today, NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) celebrated the graduation of its fourth class of students. The ceremony was held at NYU Skirball Center for Performing Arts.
The CUSP program, created five years ago as part of the City of New York’s Applied Sciences NYC initiative, has consistently expanded and refined its innovative Masters of Science (MS) curriculum. This year, approximately 80 students completed a Master of Science program in Applied Urban Science and Informatics. These graduates will transition to a variety of career paths and opportunities where they will use their skills, experiences and knowledge to address real-world challenges in urban environments.

Past CUSP graduates have gone on to positions at the New York State Office of the Attorney General, the New York City Economic Development Corporation, the New York Police Department, the U.S. Department of the Treasury Office of Financial Research, Apple Inc., and many other prestigious institutions.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the graduation of our fourth class,” said CUSP Director Steve Koonin. “These incredible students have honed their skills and knowledge to advance the field of urban informatics, and will continue to do so as they move into the next phase of their careers. We are happy to report that many of our graduates have successfully transitioned into roles in a variety of noteworthy companies and institutions, and we look forward to seeing what they will achieve in the future.”
“On behalf of Mayor de Blasio and the City of New York, I’m honored to congratulate this year’s NYU CUSP class,” said Miguel Gamiño, Jr., New York City Chief Technology Officer and keynote speaker at the ceremony. “CUSP is the direct result of a thriving public-private partnership and is a vital part of the City’s Applied Sciences initiative that is strengthening our economy and cultivating a tech talent pipeline committed to solving urban and global challenges.”

Prior to beginning the CUSP program, this year’s class of graduates received degrees from 24 different universities around the world, represent 19 countries and 34 academic fields and include two Fulbright Scholars.

 

At CUSP, students partake in a rigorous, year-long MS program designed specifically to provide students with the skills to leverage data and technology to solve the biggest challenges facing cities across the country and around the world. CUSP also emphasizes entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership, giving its students the opportunity to practice these skills by working with an existing organization, such the California Data Collaborative. At the core of this MS curriculum is the Urban Science Intensive, a two-semester project, which allows students to partner with mentors from CUSP’s industry and government partners. The project challenges students to use informatics to address urban challenges, giving them real-world experience and opportunities to impact on the way cities function and operate.

In recent years, CUSP students played a role in several of the Center’s major research initiatives, including:
• The launch of the first “Quantified Community” in New York City’s Hudson Yards
• The development of Sounds of New York City (SONYC), a first-of-its-kind research initiative to monitor and ultimately address urban noise pollution
• The development of a visualization tool that tracks energy and water efficiency

To date, CUSP faculty and researchers have won a total of $14.7M in sponsored research support. The school has also partnered with dozens of City agencies, from the Office of the Attorney General to the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics, to tackle big data challenges to maintain services, operations and quality of life for residents across New York City.

This fall, NYU CUSP will move into a new location at 370 Jay Street. The new state-of-the-art facility will house seven research laboratories, a dramatic double-height seminar room, public gathering spaces, 19 conference rooms and collaboration spaces, among other amenities.
For more information on CUSP, its students and faculty, and its programs and initiatives, visit its website, www.cusp.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/.

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.

NYU CENTER FOR URBAN SCIENCE AND PROGRESS PROFESSOR RELEASES WORLD’S DENSEST URBAN AERIAL LASER SCANNING DATASET

New York, NY – New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (NYU CUSP) Professor Debra F. Laefer today released the world’s densest urban aerial laser scanning (LiDAR) dataset. 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.

The dataset was collected and processed as part of Professor Laefer’s European Research Council (ERC) $1.7 million research grant “Rethinking Tunneling in Urban Neighborhoods (RETURN)”1 with additional funding from Science Foundation Ireland. Using techniques developed by Professor Laefer’s research team, this dataset provides uniquely high resolution LiDAR data for a 1.5km2 study area of Dublin’s historic city center. The data covers not only the horizontal surfaces of the built environment, as seen in traditional LiDAR projects (e.g. roofs and roads), but also provides dense vertical data including exceptional building facade capture. This allows the creation of richly elaborated 3D models of the urban environment that accurately represent building geometry, curb height, vegetation, and utility lines. The work builds on a previously publicly released dataset (aerial laser scanning and imagery) and more than a decade of research. Permission is currently being sought to acquire similar data for New York City.

Dr. Laefer, Professor of Urban Informatics at NYU CUSP and affiliated with the Tandon School of Engineering’s Department of Civil and Urban Engineering, was the founder and former head of the University College Dublin’s Urban Modeling Group in Dublin, Ireland. There, she led the development of the ERC project’s innovations across the data pipeline from flightpath planning and optimization to final processing for numerical modeling. “A city-scale dataset of this level can be applied to many projects to improve services,” said Laefer. “This extraordinary level of data quality, combined with open access through NYU’s Spatial Data Repository, will help pioneer new possibilities for visualisation and analyses by urban engineers, civic agencies, and entrepreneurs trying to identify and ultimately solve urban challenges of all kinds.”

This dataset can be used in many forms to improve city services such as mobility impaired route assessment, 3D digital tourism, built environment change detection, and comprehensive urban documentation for civic records. The data are also directly applicable for a variety of engineering analyses including building energy modeling, pedestrian wind analysis, disaster planning, and infectious disease tracking.

“NYU Libraries’ accession of aerial laser scanning and photogrammetry data produced by Professor Laefer’s research team is a major addition to our geospatial data holdings,” said Andrew Battista, a professor of Public Service at NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and Librarian for Geospatial Information Systems at New York University. “This collection marks the first time that spatial data associated with a major, grant-funded project has been submitted to our repository. We are confident that this dataset will be invaluable to a larger community of urban studies scholarship, and we anticipate expanding our collections as Prof. Laefer’s research evolves.”

To view a video showing LiDAR data for a portion of central Dublin featured in the dataset, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEi2Wo7Bcuk

1. https://erc.europa.eu/projects-figures/stories/engineering-safer-cities

 

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.

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.

NYU CUSP – 2016 Commencement Tribute Video

Paul M. Torrens

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.

###

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.”

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.

NEW YORK UNIVERSITY PARTNERS WITH KING’S COLLEGE AND THE UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK TO ESTABLISH THE CENTER FOR URBAN SCIENCE AND PROGRESS IN LONDON

New York University (NYU), King’s College London, and the University of Warwick have signed an agreement to establish a London Center for Urban Science and Progress at Bush House, part of King’s Strand campus, in 2017.

London will be the first city to build upon the success of CUSP in New York City, which was launched in April 2012 by Mayor Bloomberg and of which Warwick is an academic partner. In developing CUSP London, the partners will benefit from the experience in New York City, where CUSP is now established as a leader in the new field of urban science and informatics.

CUSP London will bring together researchers, businesses, local authorities and government agencies to apply urban science to improving public health and wellbeing. It will draw on the real experience and ‘big data’ available in cities, thereby using the cities themselves as living laboratories to tackle their most significant issues. CUSP London will complement the MedCity initiative which the GLA recently launched with King’s and other academic partners, and the Mayor of London’s Smart London plan.

Experts at CUSP London will use data to develop deeper understanding and practical solutions to a wide range of challenges affecting people’s everyday lives. The international partnership will also train a new generation of postgraduate and PhD level urban scientists with the skills and knowledge to benefit London and other major UK and global cities.

The partners will shortly be advertising the post of Director of CUSP London.

Professor Edward Byrne AC, President and Principal of King’s, commented: “We are delighted to have signed an agreement with NYU and Warwick to take forward this exciting initiative and to host the second Center for Urban Science and Progress at our campus in central London. All three university partners share a desire to tackle the increasingly complex challenges facing more major global cities and CUSP London will help us to achieve this.”

Professor Nigel Thrift, Vice-Chancellor of Warwick added: “I welcome the launch of CUSP London, both as a researcher of the dynamics of cities, and as Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick which is a partner both in the CUSP London initiative and the original CUSP in New York. CUSP London will be a significant engine of applied urban science research, innovation and education that will work with London as a living laboratory applying research to the needs of our capital and to other great cities.”

Steve Koonin, Director of New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress, said: “We are delighted to welcome London to the CUSP family. We are honored by their strong support of our work and the steps taken to build on our successes in New York City. Our New York team stands ready to work with Kings College and the University of Warwick as the CUSP model is expanded abroad.”

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

SONYC Is A NYC BigApps 2015 Finalist!

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

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

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

SONYC Through to Semifinals of BigApps NYC 2015!

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

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

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

Visit SONYC’s NYC BigApps 2015 competition page here.

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.

Congratulations Class of 2015!

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

Julia Lane joins NYU as Full-time Faculty Member

CUSP_Informatics_city_520

 

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

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

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

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.

Julia Lane

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.”

2014 AT&T Transit Tech Developer Day at CUSP

November 22, 2014 – November 22, 2014

2 MetroTech Center

View MapMap and Directions | Register

Description:

The 2014 AT&T Transit Tech Developer Day App is an opportunity to launch the development of your 2014 MTA App Quest entry. This day will allow you to:

  1. Hear from MTA experts about this year’s App Quest and the new datasets and API released for 2014.
  2. Work on the early stage of your concept with access to industry and data experts.
  3. Sign up for in-person or virtual mentoring sessions with experts from the MTA and its partners, including AT&T and New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP).
  4. Build your team or join a team through a Teammate Match session.

——————————————–
Event Program:

Time Activity Location
8:30 AM Doors Open for Check-In/Registration  
Breakfast Available Pantry
9:00 AM Announcements Lecture Hall
9:05 AM Event Kickoff and Welcome Lecture Hall
9:12 AM About 2014 MTA AT&T App Quest Lecture Hall
9:30 AM Highlight:  New Datasets and GTFS Lecture Hall
9:50 AM Highlight:  Accessibility Track Lecture Hall
10:10 AM Highlight:  Beacon Q&A Lecture Hall
10:20 AM Overview:  Prizes Lecture Hall
10:25 AM Teammate Match (note:  teams may also start work) Lecture Hall
11:00 AM All teams at work Town Hall East
& West
12:00 PM LUNCH & Presentation Schedule Signups Pantry
1:00 PM Office Hours Open

  • MTA Team (Room 820)
  • Prof. Kaan Ozbay, NYU (Room 810)
  • Alex Muro, Lead Developer, AVAIL (Albany Visualization And Informatics Lab, University of Albany, SUNY (Room 818, by Skype)
  • Richard Murby, Developer Evangelist, ChallengePost (Room 827)
Rooms 810, 818, 820, 827
TBA CONCEPT PITCHES Lecture Hall
5:15 PM Winners Announced Lecture Hall

Register

A Secret Urban Observatory Is Snapping 9,000 Images A Day Of New York City

Astronomers have long built observatories to capture the night sky and beyond. Now researchers at NYU are borrowing astronomy’s methods and turning their cameras towards Manhattan’s famous skyline.

NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress has been running what’s likely the world’s first “urban observatory” of its kind for about a year. From atop a tall building in downtown Brooklyn (NYU won’t say its address, due to security concerns), two cameras–one regular one and one that captures infrared wavelengths–take panoramic images of lower and midtown Manhattan. One photo is snapped every 10 seconds. That’s 8,640 images a day, or more than 3 million since the project began (or about 50 terabytes of data).

Taking photos of the skyline is nothing new; hordes of tourists do so everyday. And satellites and drones can already capture aerial vantage points. What’s unique about the observatory is the sheer, steady volume of imagery combined with an unchanging vista that offers a slice of the city, rather than only a bird’s-eye view.

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

 

Quantifying the Livable City

By the time Constantine Kontokosta got involved with New York City’s Hudson Yards development, it was already on track to be historically big and ambitious.

Over the course of the next decade, developers from New York’s Related Companies and Canada-based Oxford Properties Group are building the largest real-estate development in United States history: a 28-acre neighborhood on Manhattan’s far West Side over a Long Island Rail Road yard, with some 17 million square feet of new commercial, residential, and retail space.

Hudson Yards is also being planned as an innovative model of efficiency. Its waste management systems, for example, will utilize a vast vacuum-tube system to collect garbage from each building into a central terminal, meaning no loud garbage trucks traversing the streets by night. Onsite power generation will prevent blackouts like those during Hurricane Sandy, and buildings will be connected through a micro-grid that allows them to share power with each other.

They’re Tracking When You Turn Off the Lights

Four percent of Manhattanites go to bed before 7:30 p.m. on weeknights. Only 6% turn off the lights after midnight.

For more fine-grained data on what makes New York City tick, ask researcher Steven Koonin. Hidden on a Brooklyn rooftop, his wide-angle infrared camera peers at windows of thousands of buildings across the East River. The camera detects 800 gradations of light, a sensitivity that lets his software determine what time households turn in, what kind of light bulbs they use, and even what pollutants their buildings emit.

He has also mounted sound sensors in Brooklyn on streetlight poles and building facades to gauge the volume of house parties and car horns.

Mr. Koonin, a former undersecretary of science in the Obama administration who directs New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, is at the forefront of an academic movement to quantify urban life.

Tech companies have used the technologies and techniques collectively known as big data to make business decisions and shape their customers’ experience. Now researchers are bringing big data into the public sphere, aiming to improve quality of life, save money, and understand cities in ways that weren’t possible only a few years ago.

Meet the Man Who Turned NYC Into His Own Lab

In the mornings, Steven Koonin often dons a light blue shirt and khaki suit jacket, walks out of his apartment above Manhattan’s chic Washington Square park and heads for the subway. As he beelines down the sidewalk, the West Village buildings burp up black clouds of smoke as their boilers are fired on. At Sixth Avenue, an express bus screeches to the curb and blocks the pedestrian crosswalk. And as Koonin sits in the subway, he notices some of the signs are badly placed. “Can we fix this?” he wonders. He gets off at Brooklyn’s Jay Street-Metrotech station and rides an elevator to the 19th floor of a commanding building perched high above his native city. Then he gets to work.

Koonin is the director of New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), which is to say, he is the big data guru of New York City. He’s been given a lot of cash, millions of data points and a broad mandate by the city of New York: make it better. No big data project of this scale has been attempted before, and that’s because the tools never existed, until now. “There’s an enormous amount of data out there,” Koonin says with the vestiges of a Brooklyn accent. “If we can use the data to understand what’s going on in cities, we can improve them in a rational way.”

What NYU CUSP is like, according to recent grad Aliya Merali

Aliya Merali had been working in a plasma physics lab at Princeton, but she told us, “I wanted to work on problems where I felt like I would immediately be able to impact the quality of life of people around me.”

That’s why she decided to join the first class at NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, the still new program that’s projected to take over much of Downtown Brooklyn’s old MTA building over the next few years.

Merali spoke to us last week, not long after graduation. CUSP emphasizes a practical orientation to student work, so students finish the program in internships with city agencies. Merali and two other students opted to take internships with the NYPD, where they worked primarily on data that came from 911 call centers.

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.

 

AAAI 2015 Workshop on AI for Cities

Almost half of humanity today lives in urban environments and that number will grow to 80% or more by the middle of this century in different parts of the world. Cities are thus the loci of resource consumption, economic activity, social interactions, and education and innovation; they are the cause of our looming sustainability problems but also where those problems must be solved. Cities are also an enormous forum for policy making, as well as an apparently unbounded source of digital data of a wide nature. Artificial Intelligence has the potential to play a central role in tackling the underlying hard computational, decision making, and statistical problems of cities.

With this in mind, CUSP has proposed a worskshop to bring together AI researchers who work on urban informatics and domain experts from city agencies in order to: i) identify and characterize the prototypical AI problems that cities face, ii) discuss data access, open platforms, and dissemination of information, iii) present recent research in this nascent subfield, and iv) strengthen the path from research to decision and policy making. The workshop will be held on January 25-26, 2015, in Austin, Texas.

Topics include

  • Spatiotemporal inference of urban processes (social or natural)
  • Energy consumption/disaggregation models of large urban areas
  • Planning/Scheduling for city operations
  • Decision making for urban science and for city policy
  • AI models of transportation and utilities networks
  • Resource allocation in urban systems
  • Event detection of urban activity and processes
  • Active learning, sampling biases and dataset shift in city data
  • Multi-agent simulations of urban processes
  • Visualization and city operational systems
  • Cross-city comparative analysis
  • Improving public health systems in cities
  • Crowdsourcing for urban science and decision making
  • Open data platforms and data access tools for data science

Preliminary Agenda

09:00 – 09:10  -  Introduction and opening remarks
09:10 – 09:40  -  Invited talk – Juliana Freire, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering
09:40 – 10:10  -  Invited talk – Autonomous Machines and Robots in Cities – Manuela Veloso, CMU
10:10 – 10:30  -  Coffee Break
10:30 – 11:00  - Invited talk – Adi Botea, IBM
11:00 – 11:30  -  Invited talk – Craig Knoblock, USC
11:30 – 12:30  -  Lunch Break
12:30 – 01:00  -  Invited Talk – Mike Flowers, NYU CUSP
01:00 – 03:00  -  Paper Presentations
03:00 – 03:30  -  Data access – city data portals, initiatives, and restrictions
03:30 – 04:00  -  Coffee Break
04:00 – 04:30  -  Data access – city data portals, initiatives, and restrictions
04:30 – 05:00  -  Open discussion and concluding remarks
05:00 – 06:00  -  Social event

Submission Requirements

Papers must be formatted in AAAI two-column, camera-ready style. Regular research papers (submitted and final), presenting a significant contribution, may be no longer than 7 pages, with page 7 including only references. Short papers (submitted and final), describing a position on the topic of the workshop or a demonstration/tool, may be no longer than 4 pages, including references.

CUSP is offering two awards of up to $1,000 each in travel reimbursements for students who are lead authors on papers contributed to the workshop.

Submissions are to be made online at https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=ai4cities. We request that interested authors log in and submit abstracts as an expression of interest before the final deadline.

Important Dates

11/09/2014  -  Paper Submission deadline
11/14/2014  -  Notification of decisions
11/25/2014  -  Camera-ready due

Organizing Committee

Theo Damoulasdamoulas@nyu.edu
Research Assistant Professor, New York University, Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP)
Brooklyn, USA

Biplav Srivastavasbiplav@in.ibm.com
Senior Researcher, IBM Master Inventor, IBM Research
New Delhi, India

Sheila McIraithsheila@cs.toronto.edu
Professor of Computer Science, Department of Computer Science, University of Toronto
Toronto, Canada

Freddy Lecuefreddy.lecue@ie.ibm.com
Research Scientist, IBM Research, Smarter Cities Technology Center
Dublin, Ireland

Program Committee

Sarah Bird (Microsoft Research, USA)
Alex Chohlas-Wood (NYPD, USA)
Philippe Cudre-Mauroux (University of Fribourg, CH)
Mathieu d’Aquin (Open University, UK)
Bistra Dilkina (Georgia Tech, USA)
Greg Dobler (NYU CUSP, USA)
Harish Doraiswamy (NYU, USA)
Stefano Ermon (Stanford University, USA)
Maurizio Filippone (University of Glasgow, UK)
Rebecca Hutchinson (Oregon State University, USA)
Rishee Jain (Stanford, USA)
Nikos Karampatziakis (Microsoft, USA)
Liakata Maria (University of Warwick, UK)
Charlie Mydlarz (NYU CUSP, USA)
Temitope O Omitola (University of Southampton, UK)
Jeff Pan (Univ. of Aberdeen, UK)
Kostas Pelechrinis (University of Pittsburgh, USA)
Alessandro Perina (Italian Institute of Technology, ITA)
Justin Salamon (NYU CUSP, USA)
Daniel Sheldon (UMass Amherst, USA))
Vasilis Syrgkanis (Microsoft Research, USA)
Ravi Shroff (NYU CUSP, USA)
Vasileios Stathopoulos (UCL, UK)
Huy T. Vo (NYU CUSP, USA)
Yuxiang Wang (Carnegie Mellon University, USA)
Hong Yang (NYU CUSP, USA)
Arkaitz Zubiaga (University of Warwick, UK)

Related Work

Workshop on Semantics for Smarter Cities
In conjunction with 13th International Semantic Web Conference (ISWC 2014)
Payam Barnaghi, Jan Holler, Biplav Srivastava, John Davies, John Breslin, and Tope Omitola
Riva del Garda, Italy – 20 October, 2014

Workshop on Semantic Cities
In conjunction with Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence conference (AAAI-14)
Mark Fox, Freddy Lecue, Sheila McIlraith, Biplav Srivastava and Rosario Usceda-Sosa
Québec City, Québec, Canada – July 27-31, 2014

Workshop on Inclusive Web Programming – Programming on the Web with Open Data for Societal Applications
In conjunction with 36th International Conference on Software Engineering
Biplav Srivastava and Neeta Verma
Hyderabad, India – May 31-June 4, 2014

Workshop on Semantic Cities
In conjunction with International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-13)
Freddy Lecue Biplav Srivastava, and Ziaqing Nie
Beijing, China – Aug 3-5, 2013

The Semantic Smart City Workshop (SemCity-13)
In conjunction with International Conference on Web Intelligence, Mining and Semantics (WIMS-13)
Tope Omitola, John Breslin, Biplav Srivastava, and John Davies
Madrid, Spain – June 12-14, 2013

Workshop on Semantic Cities
In conjunction with 26th Conference of Association for Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-12)
Biplav Srivastava, Freddy Lecue, and Anupam Joshi
Toronto, Canada – July 22-26, 2012

AI for an Intelligent Planet
In conjunction with 22nd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI-11)
Biplav Srivastava, Carla Gomes, and Anand Ranganathan
Barcelona, Spain – July 16-22, 2011

Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good

Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good

Buy the book here

Massive amounts of new data about people, their movements, and activities can now be accessed and analyzed as never before. Numerous privacy concerns have been raised by use – or misuse – of such data in commercial and national security arenas. Yet we are motivated by the potential for “big data” to be harnessed to serve the public good: scientists can use new forms of data to do research that improves people’s live; federal, state and local governments can use data to improve the delivery of services to citizens; and non-profit organizations can use the information to advance the public good.

Access to big data raises many unanswered questions related to privacy and confidentiality:  What are the ethical and legal requirements for scientists and government officials seeking to serve the public good without harming individual citizens? What are the rules of engagement? What are the best ways to provide access while protecting confidentiality? Are there reasonable mechanisms to compensate citizens for privacy loss?

 

CUSP, along with the American Statistical Association and its Privacy and Confidentiality subcommittee and the Research Data Centre of the German Federal Employment Agency, sponsored a book on this very issue, Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good: Frameworks for Engagement.  Published by Cambridge University Press, this book is an accessible summary of the important legal, economic, and statistical thinking that frames the many privacy issues associated with the use of big data – along with practical suggestions for protecting privacy and confidentiality that can help to guide practitioners.

The book launch, held at the New York Academy of Sciences on July 16th, included talks and panels by the book’s editors and a number of the authors. You can watch these talks and panels below.

Editors’ Panel

Moderator: Michael Holland
Panelists: Julia Lane, Victoria Stodden, Stefan Bender, Helen Nissenbaum

The editors discuss the motivation for the book and how it contributes to the broader conversation on privacy concerns about big data.  They also briefly highlight the contribution of authors who were unable to participate in the event.

Panel 1: Law, Ethics, and Economics of Big Data

Moderator: Jake Bournazian
Panel: Helen Nissenbaum, Kathy Strandburg, Victoria Stodden

Authors discuss the fact that “big data” is more than a straightforward change in technology.  It poses deep challenges to our traditions of notice and consent as tools for managing privacy.  Because our new tools of data science can make it all but impossible to guarantee anonymity in the future, is it possible to truly give informed consent, when we cannot, by definition, know what the risks are from revealing personal data either for individuals or for society as a whole?

Presentations:

Panel 2: Practical Concerns of Working with Big Data

Moderator: Julia Lane
Panelists: Bob Goerge, Daniel “Dazza” Greenwood, Carl Landwehr

Based on their experience building large data collections, authors discuss some of the best practical ways to provide access while protecting confidentiality.  What have we learned about effective engineered controls?  About effective access policies?  About designing data systems that reinforce – rather than counter – access policies?  They also explore the business, legal, and technical standards necessary for a new deal on data.

Presentations:

Panel 3: Statistical Framework: Issues & Practical Responses

Moderator: Stefan Bender
Panelists: Frauke Kreuter, Jerry Reiter, Peter Elias

Since the data generating process or the data collection process is not necessarily well understood for big data streams, authors discuss what statistics can tell us about how to make greatest scientific use of this data. They also explore the shortcomings of current disclosure limitation approaches and whether we can quantify the extent of privacy loss.

Presentations:

Capstone Speaker: Theresa Pardo

Our capstone speaker is the Director of the Center for Technology in Government at the University at Albany, the Open NY Policy Advisor for Open.NY.Gov, and the President of the Digital Government Society.  She shows us how “big data” can be harnessed to serve the public good by presenting a guide for making information in the public sector more available and more usable.

Presentations:

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.”

Testimonial Interview (English) – Pablo Garcia

Testimonial Interview – Tucker Reed

Testimonial Interview (Spanish) – Pablo Garcia

Testimonial Interview – Nancy Suski

Testimonial Interview – Kenneth Daly

Testimonial Interview – Jennifer Chayes

Testimonial Interview – Gillian Small

Testimonial Interview – Frances Resheske

The Promise of Urban Informatics

2013 Fall Open House

August 2013 City Challenge Week

April 2013 Open House

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

January 2014 Transatlantic Science Forum

Urban Physics

While physics is a science, it is also a set of tools and a state of mind. Physicists have repeatedly found intellectual and practical benefit in applying their methods to new subjects; astronomy, biology, and earth sciences are prominent examples. The study of cities is another such subject now ripe to be taken up by physicists.

Understanding cities is a pressing global problem. Currently about 80% of the US and about 50% of the world population reside in urban areas, growing at over one million people per week. A city is a complex mix of infrastructure, environment, and people that must provide safety, health, housing, mobility, water, food, energy, interactions, and more recently, connectivity for its citizens. We must build new cities wisely and refurbish existing cities while improving efficiency, quality of life, and resilience.

NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress Welcomes Michael Flowers as its First Urban Science Fellow

NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) today announced the appointment of Michael Flowers, who served as New York City’s first Chief Analytics Officer, as its inaugural Urban Science Fellow.

With a depth of experience in federal and municipal government, Flowers will work closely with CUSP’s faculty, staff, and partners to identify approaches to advance the use of data analytics in municipal operations and urban policymaking.  A recognized leader in promoting the use of civic data, Flowers will serve as a key participant in CUSP projects that will help define the emerging field of urban informatics around the world.

Specifically, he will serve as a mentor and project advisor to CUSP’s M.S. students as they undertake practical data analysis of constraints on city operations and development, which include political, policy, and financial considerations.

Appointed by former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, Flowers served as the city’s first Chief Analytics Officer and established the Mayor’s Office of Data Analytics (MODA).  MODA’s work allowed the City of New York to better utilize its data to improve its infrastructure, emergency response, human services, and revenue collection.  As Chief Analytics Officer, Flowers implemented NYC DataBridge, an analytics platform integrating data spanning numerous city agencies for secure, on-demand access by city analysts.

Mike brings to CUSP an outstanding record of achievement within the New York City government,” said Steve Koonin, CUSP’s Director.  “His innovative efforts have greatly aided the city to better utilize its vast amounts of data and respond to the needs of New York City’s residents.  Mike brings an invaluable, practical perspective on urban informatics and we are delighted to be working with him.”

Prior to joining the Bloomberg Administration, Mr. Flowers was Counsel to the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for the 110th and 111th Congress, where he led bipartisan investigations into off-shore tax haven abuses, failures in the mortgage-backed securitization market by U.S. investment and commercial banks and government agencies, and deceptive financial transactions by the North Korean government. From March 2005 to December 2006, Mr. Flowers was Deputy Director of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Regime Crimes Liaison’s Office in Baghdad, Iraq, supporting the investigations and trials of Saddam Hussein and other high-ranking members of his regime. Flowers’ numerous awards and honors include the New York City Government Award for Management Innovation and IT Collaboration (2013), the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy Award (2013), and the White House Champion for Change Award (2012).  He earned his bachelor’s degree in History from Tulane University and holds a law degree from Temple University.

“I am truly excited to bring my experience in city government and data analytics to bear as CUSP moves forward,” said Michael Flowers.  “Working closely with its government, academic, and corporate partners, CUSP’s research offers tremendous promise to cities like New York as they evaluate the best ways to utilize vast amounts of data for the public good.”

Established through generous support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, CUSP’s Urban Science Fellowship will enable leading practitioners to apply their expertise to the study of urban informatics and accelerate the rate at which knowledge and best practices can be shared with leaders in other cities.

 

About CUSP

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and leading international tech companies. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world. The Center will be the first program to assemble a global consortium to focus on this area of research and development at this scale, making it the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics.”  For more news and information on CUSP, click here.

 

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Media Contacts:

Kim Alfred, CUSP – 917.392.0859

kim.alfred@nyu.edu

Elizabeth Latino, The Marino Organization – 212.889.0808

elizabeth@themarino.org

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NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress to Offer Unique Executive Education in Urban Informatics and City Analytics

Brooklyn, NY – December 12, 2013: New York University’s Center for Urban Science & Progress (CUSP) today announced the launch of a new executive education program in urban informatics and city analytics, one of the only such programs of its kind in the world.

 

The three-day, cohort-style program will be led by CUSP faculty members, all of whom are widely regarded as foremost innovators in their respective specialties. The course will equip professionals from both the public and private sector with the skills to use large-scale datasets and analytics to address fundamental problems and challenges of city operations, planning and development.

 

“We’re finding that more and more professionals want to drill down on this material not just because they’re intellectually curious or because they think it will add value down the road – they’re beginning to realize that knowledge in this area is rapidly becoming a strategic imperative,” said Dr. Steven Koonin, Director of CUSP. “Much of the city data that can be used to improve service delivery, optimize operational and planning decisions, increase public engagement and improve problem solving already exists. The executive education program teaches professionals how to leverage existing data and turn it into insight that can catalyze data-driven policy.”

 

The program covers trends and challenges in data science for urban systems, such as data management and manipulation at scale, data mining and analytics, and information visualization, with a special focus on how to use data to develop and implement solutions for the most current and pressing challenges facing today’s cities.

 

Through case studies, group discussions, and professional development, participants will acquire a deeper understanding of the alignment of data and information with complex urban systems.

 

The program is geared toward leaders in organizations and government who would like to improve their ability to utilize, create and manage a data-driven approach to city operations, as well as to professionals who wish to learn how to observe, analyze and model cities and senior level executives who would like to enhance their data-driven management skills with the goal of extracting meaning and insight from data to improve cities around the world.

 

Participants can receive continuing professional education credit as applicable, for completing the program.

 

The first three-day program will be held January 27 – 29 at the CUSP campus in Downtown Brooklyn and additional cohorts will be held throughout the year on an ongoing basis. For more information, please contact: J.C. Bonilla, Director of Enrollment Management and Student Services at 646-997-0511 or jb3379@nyu.edu.

 

CUSP welcomed its inaugural class of graduate students in August 2013. The NYU center was designated 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.

 

About CUSP

CUSP is an applied science research institute created by New York University with a consortium of world-class universities and leading international tech companies. At the heart of its academic program, CUSP will investigate and develop solutions to the challenges that face cities around the world. The Center will be the first program to assemble a global consortium to focus on this area of research and development at this scale, making it the world’s leading authority in the emerging field of “urban informatics.”  For more news and information on CUSP, click here.

 

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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