disciplines, domains, and projects
Overview and Structure
To have impact on the city and commercial partners, and to give students real world experience, CUSP’s research program contains projects with goals and deliverables that develop or integrate technologies to specific ends (for example, understand and improve congestion and emergency response). CUSP also has core activities that foster the expertise required to execute projects, and that inform its educational curriculum.
CUSP research is centered on an organizational structure based on disciplines, domains, and projects.
The Role of Social Sciences
Anchored in Downtown Brooklyn
CUSP supported personnel anchor their research activities in CUSP’s offices. There are many drivers that influenced CUSP’s decision to co-locate its activities — the multidisciplinary nature of CUSP education and research, the power of serendipitous “water cooler” interactions, the goal to be a presence in Downtown Brooklyn, and the energy derived from collocating teams. Moreover, the inherent multidisciplinary complexity of many urban science challenges necessitates having a resident critical mass of research capabilities.
Disciplines and Domains
CUSP research and academic activities have a domain/discipline structure that is very different from the usual department construct, and to important effect.
Disciplines are core informatics capabilities. CUSP is focused on the study of urban informatics — the collection, integration, and analysis to improve the efficiency of urban systems. The disciplines are organized as cross‐cutting areas. Research topics include “big data” fields of databases, visualization, systems, machine learning and data mining, as well as applied statistics, operations research, decision models and optimization, geographical information systems, and sensing (including the development of novel physical sensors).
Domains are the fields of expertise directly relevant to urban systems (mass transit, law enforcement, buildings, land use, public health, etc.). The domains correspond to relevant NYC partner agencies.
Organizing around the “what” of a problem (e.g., acquire transport data, model building energy efficiency, measure noise temporally and spatially) instills a pragmatic ethos while encouraging interactions among faculty pursuing diverse “how” approaches to a problem.
The choice and granularity of CUSP’s initial set of disciplines and domains are under development.
CUSP’s vision is for an instrumented city that will yield data for researchers and students to collect, analyze, and interpret in order to improve the everyday lives of New Yorkers and the long-term health and efficiency of
New York City.
Sensors and cameras placed on traffic choke points, for example, would inform road design and signaling methods that speed commutes.
An infrared picture of the Manhattan skyline also holds many points of inquiry. Is the dense red an indication of an overheated building, or poor insulation allowing heat to escape? What can be done to mitigate the overheating/heat loss, and what would be the cumulative effect to energy usage if smartly applied across NYC?
CUSP will tackle such issues under the framework of “projects,” in collaboration with city agencies and industry partners. The projects will be major and minor in scope, resources, and duration.
The totality of CUSP projects, built on its disciplinary and domain strengths, will over time, create an unprecedented “systems view” of NYC operations.
CUSP projects will possess important economic implications as well — from the jobs created to implement CUSP-proposed development, to the new ventures that could spin off from CUSP technologies.
Data Ethics and Privacy
CUSP will lead a new class of personal data users: non-profit research and academic institutions that will primarily use these data for educational and research purposes. In addition, CUSP will be tapping into novel data streams that have not traditionally been subject to privacy or security concerns.
We will establish internal policies and principles to ensure proper protection of individual privacy without keeping our researchers and students from “doing science.” These policies will lead the research community in establishing industry-wide ethical standards and principles. We need to always keep in mind the ethical, legal, and societal implications of our research.
CUSP’s scope is urban informatics — the collection, integration, and analysis of data to improve the operation of urban systems and enhance the quality of life. To achieve this, CUSP will observe and analyze existing operations; utilize existing and newly emerging data streams; and explore and deploy novel urban sensors in order to model New York City as a system of living networks. Such activities require data curation and integration capabilities, an urban GIS capability, urban modeling and simulation capabilities. These tools, adapted to NYC, will be the institutional foundations that enable CUSP research and education. They must be capable, reliable, useable, interoperable, and universally available to CUSP researchers and students.
Short-Term Projects Under Consideration
- Meeting customer expectations for dependability, travel time, accessibility, transparency, and quality of service through the use of existing data, novel sensor systems, and improved visualization and human-computer interfaces to enable real time management of customer demand.
- Providing the analysis necessary to support a more sustainable relationship between transportation systems and the environment.