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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.

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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.