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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.



Kim Alfred, CUSP



Elizabeth Latino, The Marino Organization



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 (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


Elizabeth Latino, The Marino Organization

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.

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