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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.