“Urban Informatics and decision making in cities encompasses such a large scale of issues and fields, and it’s hard to know what interests you until you try. At CUSP, I’m able to pursue them all."
Jack Lundquist first learned about CUSP during his sophomore year of college, when he read The Metropolitan Revolution, a book that examines the role of cities in revitalizing the economy. While studying civil engineering and pursuing an interest in urban planning and urban analytics at Stanford University, Jack kept following CUSP and ultimately decided to apply upon graduation.
“Getting into CUSP was a dream come true,” he said. “CUSP is engaged and working with so many great data sets, agencies, and organizations at the cutting edge of urban informatics. I was interested in applying data to understand city systems and improve the operations of city agencies, and CUSP was foraging new ground in this field.”
At CUSP, Jack enjoyed the diversity of his cohort, the breadth of the faculty, and the many research opportunities available. “People come from a variety of different backgrounds, from the countries they live in to their interests in the public sector, private sector, or non-profit realm. Being surrounded by all of these curious people, who think about the urban environment with so many different perspectives, has been transformative.”
In addition to his classes, Jack also worked as a research assistant with Professor Constantine Kontokosta’s Urban Intelligence Lab. His research team partnered with Women-In-Need NYC, a women’s shelter system in New York City, to try and predict the likelihood of re-entry or long-term stays within the system based on demographics, the shelter sites, and other data.
“I hadn’t really worked with the social component of urban issues before,” he said. “This project wasn’t just working with and analyzing the data, but interpreting the results within the context of the decision-making process of NYC’s largest homeless shelter provider and homelessness in NYC at large. Weaving the technical and human sides of this project together was a really enriching experience.”
In his classes, Jack has also intertwined technical, theoretical, and social science skills to solve urban challenges. In his Civic Analytics and Urban Intelligence class, he helped build an index that measured the suitability of vacant parcels in NYC for the development of affordable housing.
His advice for new students? “Not having a technical background shouldn’t keep you from applying,” he said. “Everyone here is eager to help with building technical skills, but the perspective that you bring to this program about how urban informatics can be applied to decision-making in different agencies and issues in the urban landscape is incredibly important.”