Research Focus

Quantified Community

Primary Subject Area

Citizen Science and Urban Sensing

The growth of information communication technologies (ICTs) in cities has created tremendous potential for city governments to provide improved and efficient services for its citizens.  Citizens, however, are not solely passive in this smart city paradigm.  In fact, citizens play an important role in city operations through decision-making processes, creating transparency and accountability and even contributing to scientific research.  As city governments leverage ICTs to develop smart cities, our research aims to explore the ability for IoT platforms to facilitate citizen participation in urban research to provide new insights into city environments.

The main goal of this research is to evaluate the potential to collect meaningful data from citizens through urban IoT devices.  To explore this potential, we propose to deploy Physical Web devices as part of the NYU CUSP Quantified Community research initiative in Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood alongside our current in-situ sensor nodes. Our sensor nodes include measurements of air quality, noise levels, light levels, and localized climate and will be installed beginning in April. As part of our sensor nodes, we propose that users who interact with the Physical Web devices will be directed to a webpage that displays real-time sensor data and prompts the visitor to contribute data and feedback through a web form.  The proposed project will run from April through July including a month for development and three months for data collection and evaluation.

Red Hook, Brooklyn, is an economically-distressed neighborhood where over 70% of the residents live in public housing. What’s more, over 26% of the Red Hook population has been diagnosed with asthma, more than 2.5x the national rate. Our partner in the Red Hook project is the Red Hook Initiative, a community organization whose mission is to drive social change through the empowerment of young people.  We are working together to utilize urban IoT technologies to measure key environmental health indicators and provide information back to residents to both find sources of problems and develop better solutions. Engaging the community is a critical aspect of our work.

The type of citizen participation proposed here creates two important outcomes.  First, the interaction provided by the beacons will provide users the ability to contribute important contextual information.  This crowd-sourced, real-time survey approach can provide observational and subjective data from the user, which augments the sensor data and provides a secondary means of calibration.  Second, the data collected by the sensors will be communicated to users in real-time creating transparency and openness, helping to provide direct measurements and feedback of critical quality-of-life issues.

Partners and Collaborators

Red Hook Initiative, NYC Mayor's Office of Tech & Innovation

Team Members

Nick Johnson, Bartosz Bonczak, Awais Malik, Constantine Kontokosta

Funding

Google, Inc.

Research Team

Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE

DIRECTOR, URBAN INTELLIGENCE LAB; Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning; Director, Civic Analytics Program

Bartosz Bonczak

Associate Research Scientist

Awais Malik

Ph.D Candidate, Civil & Urban Engineering (NYU Tandon) and NYU CUSP

awais.malik@nyu.edu
646.997.0544

Nicholas Johnson

Postdoctoral Associate

Ryan Sims

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Raka Dey

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE

DIRECTOR, URBAN INTELLIGENCE LAB; Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning; Director, Civic Analytics Program

ckontokosta@nyu.edu

Prof. Kontokosta brings training urban planning, data science, economics, and systems engineering to the data-driven study of cities.

Constantine E. Kontokosta, PhD, PE, is an Associate Professor of Urban Science and Planning and Director of the Civic Analytics program at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management. He also directs the Urban Intelligence Lab and holds cross-appointments at the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP) and the Department of Civil and Urban Engineering (CUE). He is affiliated faculty at the Wagner School of Public Service, Visiting Professor of Computer Science at the University of Warwick (UK), and a Senior Scholar at the New York Academy of Medicine. Previously, he served as the inaugural Deputy Director of CUSP and Assistant Professor of Urban Informatics at CUSP and CUE, where he was part of the Center’s founding leadership team and designed and launched the first graduate program in urban informatics. He is the founding Principal Investigator of the Quantified Community research initiative that integrates hyperlocal urban sensors with city-scale data analytics to understand neighborhood dynamics and well-being, and is one of the largest community-driven IoT projects in New York City. He is a 2017 recipient of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award for his research in urban informatics for sustainable cities.

Trained in urban planning and computational methods (Columbia), finance and economics (NYU), and systems science and engineering (UPenn), Constantine brings an inter-disciplinary perspective to urban science that integrates fundamental research with impact-driven, use-inspired needs. His work leverages large-scale data with computational methods to understand and drive change in energy efficiency and climate policy, neighborhood change and the impacts of urban development, and community-driven air quality monitoring and environmental justice. Recent projects include research with NYC311 and Kansas City to measure bias in citizen complaint reporting for predictive analytics; with a homeless shelter provider to apply machine learning algorithms to identify at-risk homeless families; and with the City of New York, Washington, DC, and the UN to leverage large-scale data analytics for building energy and climate policy. Constantine’s research groups – the Civic Analytics Program and the Urban Intelligence Lab – are motivated by a desire to bring evidence to policy-making, to democratize knowledge through information transparency, and to uncover discrimination and bias in data-driven decision-making.

Constantine’s research is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), MacArthur Foundation, Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Transportation, the NYC Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, among others, and he has received several honors for his work, including the IBM Faculty Award, the Google IoT Research Award, the UN Data for Climate Action Challenge Award,  the Goddard Junior Faculty Fellowship, the Charles Abrams Award for Social Justice Research, and a NYU Award for Teaching Excellence. Constantine has published more than 70 peer-reviewed publications in leading academic journals – in fields ranging from urban planning to signal processing – and has two forthcoming books on urban analytics and data-driven climate action. His research has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Economist, FastCompany, CityLab, Wired, CNN, NPR, and other media outlets. He holds a PhD, M.Phil, and M.S. from Columbia University, a M.S. from New York University, and a B.S.E. from the University of Pennsylvania.

He serves on committees and advisory boards at the National Academies, DARPA, and the NSF Northeast Big Data Hub, and previously served on the boards of the UNEP Sustainable Buildings and Climate Council, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, and as Vice Chair and Commissioner of the Suffolk County (NY) Planning Commission. In addition to his academic work, Constantine is an accomplished entrepreneur and, together with his brother, Michael Kontokosta, designed, built, and owns Kontokosta Winery, the Harborfront Inn, and Cove Place Inn, all on the North Fork of Long Island, as well as numerous properties in New York City and the East End.

Bartosz Bonczak

Associate Research Scientist

bartosz.bonczak@nyu.edu
646.997.0530

Bartosz Bonczak is an Associate Research Scientist at CUSP working with Quantified Community and Building Informatics teams.

In his research, he applies data-driven approaches to improve building energy efficiency and the analysis of urban topography.

Bartosz received M.S. in Urban Informatics from CUSP (2015) and completed a B.S. (2009) and a M.S. (2011) in Geography with the focus on tourism at University of Lodz in his home country of Poland. Prior to joining CUSP he was Assistant Research Scientist at the Department of Geographical Sciences at University of Lodz.

Awais Malik

Ph.D Candidate, Civil & Urban Engineering (NYU Tandon) and NYU CUSP

awais.malik@nyu.edu
646.997.0544

Awais Malik is a Ph.D. Candidate in Civil and Urban Engineering at NYU Tandon and a Research Assistant at NYU CUSP.

He graduated from Dartmouth College in 2013 with an A.B. in Engineering Sciences with Honors and a B.E. in Mechanical Engineering. He was a member of Dartmouth’s $300 House Initiative, and received the Dean of Faculty grant to design and test affordable housing solutions for Haiti. Awais joined CUSP’s inaugural class of graduate students in 2013, and was one of the first research assistants at the Kontokosta Research Group. Awais received a Master of Science in Applied Urban Science and Informatics from CUSP in 2014. For the past two years, he has worked on forming a unified, multi-factor index of resilience capacity for New York City neighborhoods: the Resilience to Emergencies and Disasters Index (REDI). Awais’ current research focuses on understanding urban resilience by measuring near real-time neighborhood activity.

Nicholas Johnson

Postdoctoral Associate

Nicholas.johnson@nyu.edu

Nicholas E. Johnson is a Postdoctoral Associate in Civic Analytics at the NYU Marron Institute of Urban Management.

He obtained his PhD in Computer Science/Urban Science at University of Warwick’s Institute for the Science of Cities in 2018. Previously, Nicholas received a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program in 2013 centering his work on exploring the impact and pervasiveness of waste streams in urban environments through physical computing and interaction design.  He has launched several citizen science initiatives and continues citizen-driven research as an organizer for the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science.  Nicholas’s current research focuses on the design and development of cyber-physical systems for monitoring urban environments and data-driven analyses to understand urban phenomena including waste generation and urban mobility,

Ryan Sims

Ryan Sims

Undergraduate Research Assistant

rts347@nyu.edu

As a Summer Research Student at CUSP, Ryan Sims works closely with PhD Candidate, Nicholas E. Johnson and Dr. Constantine E. Kontokosta to further the development of the Quantified Communities (QC). Ryan’s research goals are to understand, replicate, and improve the sensors which collect data from the QCs.

In addition to his research at CUSP, Ryan Sims is in route, as a college junior, to complete his undergrad at Northern Illinois University with a B.S. in Energy and Environmental Engineering Technology

Raka Dey

Undergraduate Research Assistant

raka.dey@nyu.edu

Raka Dey is a rising senior at the NYU Tandon School of Engineering currently pursuing her BS in Sustainable Urban Environments. She is at CUSP for the summer doing research on the Qualified at Hudson Yards project. Aside from engineering, she has focused her studies on architecture, public policy, and urban planning. Through her research here, she hopes not only to gain skills in data science, but also combine her various academic interests. Raka will continue her research on this project during the school year through her Smart Cities class.