On July 23, the Class of 2020 presented their capstone projects during CUSP’s Capstone Presentation Day, an event celebrating the culmination of their six-month capstone projects and their final work during their studies at CUSP.
CUSP’s Capstone program brings together student teams with government agencies, industry, or other research partners to address real-world urban challenges through data. Our teams work with a project sponsor to define the problem, collect and analyze data, visualize the results, and, finally, formulate and deliver a possible solution. The teams are then challenged to utilize urban informatics within the context of city operations and planning, while considering political, social, and economic realities and data management and ethics. The goal of each project is to create impactful, replicable, and actionable results that inform data-driven urban operations and a new understanding of city dynamics.
CUSP’s Capstone Presentation Day featured 14 unique projects, exploring urban issues from mapping economic change in NYC’s telecom industry to understanding the real-time prediction of city planning proposals’ environmental impact. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic halfway through the capstone program, many of the teams needed to creatively pivot their projects to reflect the new challenges posed by the pandemic.
With sponsors ranging from New York City agencies and nonprofits to international universities, this year’s projects included:
- “The CIV-LAB COVID Team,” by Earl Lin, Jerome Louison, Yushu Rao and Xinran Zhao, leveraged real-time urban data to help NYC government and community organizations identify community-level response to COVID-19 within the disproportionately affected low-income neighborhood of Brownsville, Brooklyn.
- “Crowdsourced Security Cameras Enabling a Real-time Scaled Response to Crime,” by Jianan Gong and Pengcheng Yang, analyzed geospatial data to plot a heatmap of both crime and COVID-19 response in Paterson NJ to find the best places to install security cameras.
- “Interagency Work Zone Traffic Data Modeling and Analysis” by John Collier, Seunggyun Han, Linda Jaber and Akhil Singh proposed using a k-means clustering approach to predict the probability of a vehicle collision in the proximity of a road construction event.
- “Preserving NYC Nightlife Culture Post COVID-19: Keeping the ‘City that Never Sleeps’ Awake” by Vivian Chen, Ani Harnur, Andrew Norris and Christine Vandevoorde predicted neighborhoods to be at highest risk of experiencing permanent nightlife cultural loss throughout the COVID-19 shutdowns.
- “The Urban Dynamics Around the NY and Milano Fashion Weeks,” a joint capstone between CUSP’s Khouloud El Alami, John Thomas Hughes and Di Xin and Politecnico di Milano Students Francesco Alongi, Antonio Esposito and Andrea Pronzati, explored how Fashion Week affects peoples’ behavior in the online world.
We also spoke to several of this year’s capstone teams to understand more about their research, and how their projects could help improve urban life, both in New York City and other cities around the world:
Recognizing the Class of 2020
Following our Capstone Presentation Day, CUSP’s community gathered together to celebrate the Class of 2020 in a special recognition ceremony. The event was hosted by Victoria Alsina, Academic Director at CUSP, and included remarks by Juan Pablo Bello, Director of CUSP and Angelia Lau, recipient of the 2020 Academic Achievement Award, as well as a keynote address by Cordell Schachter, Chief Technology Officer of New York City Department of Transportation.
In his remarks, Professor Bello explored how the pandemic has brought into sharp relief the need for the skills developed in the CUSP Master’s program, including:
Throughout the keynote address, Cordell Schachter, CTO of the NYC Department of Transportation and Adjunct Associate Professor at CUSP, emphasized that CUSP’s graduates share a responsibility to apply what they learned at CUSP to help solve current and future challenges, particularly by applying “data science and informatics to improve the social good by working to craft unbiased solutions” in today’s cities:
The event concluded with remarks by MS Candidate Angelia Lau, recipient of this year’s Academic Achievement award. Angelia came to CUSP after completing her Bachelors of Engineering in IT, Magna Cum Laude, from the Singapore University of Technology and Design. Throughout her time at CUSP, she was consistently a top student and was part of a capstone team focused on the Economic Impacts of New York City’s Investment in Water Supply.
Angelia gave an overview of the opportunities for collaboration over the year-long MS program, with the ability to work with “architects, business analysts, economists, engineers, GIS experts, mathematicians, urban planners and more. Being able to exchange ideas in multidisciplinary teams is undoubtedly one of CUSP’s strengths. It is also a necessary condition, for us to be able to understand the complex workings of a city and devise effective ways to measure, predict and combat urban challenges.”
Angelia also noted the significant challenges faced by her class during the pandemic:
Thank you to all of our Capstone Sponsors, Mentors, and Speakers during this special event.
And a huge congratulations to the CUSP Class of 2020! We are excited to invite you to our community of CUSP alumni, and look forward to the work you will do to help cities around the world become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient.