Urban Informatics Archives - NYU Center for Urban Science and Progress

Urban Impact Series: Gov. Martin O’Malley, MetroLab Network

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.

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

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.

Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good reviewed in Science

Earlier this year, 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 about the rise of big data and the privacy issues that brings up. The book, Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good: Frameworks for Engagement, published by Cambridge University Press and launched on July 16 at the New York Academy of Sciences, 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.

On November 25, Privacy, Big Data, and the Public Good: Frameworks for Engagement was reviewed by Science Magazine, which said the book “presents a collection of essays from a variety of perspectives, in chapters by some of the heavy hitters in the privacy debate, who make a convincing case that the current framework for dealing with consumer privacy does not adequately address issues posed by big data.”

The full review is available on Science Magazine’s website.

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

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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
5:15 PM Winners Announced Lecture Hall


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/.


Kim Alfred, CUSP

Megan Romano, The Marino Organization


CUSP Research Seminar Series: Dr. Aaditya Rangan

October 29, 2014 – October 29, 2014

1 MetroTech Center

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A common problem in data analysis – including machine learning and genomics – is to detect, within a large array, small submatrices which are ‘structured’ in some way.Such submatrices, called ‘biclusters’ can represent a subset of features shared across a subset of images, or a subsets of genes that are coexpressed across a subset of the patient population. In this talk I will discuss some of the challenges associated with biclustering, and provide an algorithm that overcomes most of these challenges.


Dr. Aaditya V Rangan is an Assistant Professor at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, NYU. He received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests lie in large – scale scientific modeling of physical, biological and neurobiological phenomena and the development of efficient numerical methods and related analysis.


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)
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