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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

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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.