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Urban Informatics: A New Science for Better Cities

Digital City

March 27, 2014

‘Big Data’ has been championed as the key to understanding everything from who we vote for in elections, to what we buy in a store. For big cities, this ability to gather and analyze data could spawn great advances towards becoming more efficient, sustainable and successful. But to what extent?

New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress was created in partnership with the City of New York, University of Warwick and diverse international partners to advance this mission and build a practice to help cities around the world become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient.

Nigel Thrift, Vice Chancellor of University of Warwick, and Steven Koonin, Director of New York University’s Center for Urban Science and Progress, partners in this endeavour, discussed the emerging field of applied urban science and informatics, the opportunities it presents, and how it is challenging the way we think about information. The discussion is moderated by Sallie Keller, Director, Social Decision and Analytics Laboratory, Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech.

Warwick
CUSP


About the Moderator

Dr. Keller is Director and Professor of Statistics for the Social and Decision Analytics Laboratory within the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech University. Formerly she was Professor of Statistics at University of Waterloo and their Vice-President, Academic & Provost. Prior to this she was the director of the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute in Washington DC. Prior to this she was the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Engineering and Professor of Statistics at Rice University. Her other appointments include head of the Statistical Sciences group at Los Alamos National Laboratory, professor and director of graduate studies in the Department of Statistics at Kansas State University, and statistics program director at the National Science Foundation.

Dr. Keller has served as a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Mathematical Sciences and its Applications, has chaired the Committee on Applied and Theoretical Statistics, and is currently a member of the Committee on National Statistics. Her areas of research are uncertainty quantification, computational and graphical statistics and related software and modeling techniques, and data access and confidentiality. She is a national associate of the National Academy of Sciences, fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, elected member of the International Statistics Institute, and member of the JASON advisory group. She is also a fellow and past president of the American Statistical Association. She holds a Ph.D. in statistics from the Iowa State University of Science and Technology. 

Sallie Keller

Sallie Keller

Sallie Keller

Professor and Director, Social Decision and Analytics Laboratory (SDAL) - Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech

Nigel Thrift

Nigel Thrift

Steven Koonin

Steven Koonin


Nigel Thrift

Professor Nigel Thrift is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick. He joined Warwick from the University of Oxford where he was made Head of the Division of Life and Environmental Sciences in 2003 before becoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research in 2005.

 

Since becoming Vice-Chancellor in 2006, Professor Thrift has launched an ambitious new strategy for Warwick's future and has led the University in: implementing an extensive capital plan; achieving a large increase in research income; producing high levels of philanthropic income and establishing high-profile partnerships and research collaborations with leading universities in the US, Australia, India, Asia and Europe. Professor Thrift has also built on Warwick’s strong links with business and industry, both nationally and internationally.


Steven Koonin

Steven E. Koonin was appointed as the founding Director of NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress in April 2012. That consortium of academic, corporate, and government partners will pursue research and education activities to develop and demonstrate informatics technologies for urban problems in the “living laboratory” of New York City.

Prior to his NYU appointment, Dr. Koonin served as the second Under Secretary for Science at the US Department of Energy from May 2009 thru November 2011. In that capacity, he oversaw technical activities across the Department’s science, energy, and security activities and led the Department’s first Quadrennial Technology Review for energy. Before joining the government, Dr. Koonin spent five years as Chief Scientist for BP, plc. where he played a central role in establishing the Energy Biosciences Institute. Dr. Koonin was a professor of theoretical physics at Caltech from 1975-2006 and was the Institute’s Provost for almost a decade. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and the JASON advisory group.

Dr. Koonin holds a B.S. in Physics from Caltech and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Physics from MIT (1975) and is an adjunct staff member at the Institute for Defense Analyses. 


The VandeLinde Lecture has been established to honour Professor David VandeLinde, who served with distinction as the fourth Vice Chancellor of the University of Warwick. An American citizen, David VandeLinde studied at Carnegie Mellon University and was Dean of the Engineering Faculty at Johns Hopkins University.

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