Tell us about your scholarship and how it relates to urban issues, particularly homelessness.
My terminal degree—they always say terminal cause it kills you—is in public health. My scholarly work is considered public scholarship and my doctorate is in international health, and it’s a practice doctorate because I’m also a nurse practitioner. I always do research that’s outwards focused, in health services, health policy. I’m also really passionate about inter-professional education especially for our health sciences students. I work in a couple of the shelters here in the U-district: Roots young adults shelter, and the Elizabeth Gregory home which is specific to homeless cis and trans women, and functions as a safe house for those dealing with intimate partner violence and trauma. We organize inter-professional groups of medical, nursing, and dental students that do basic foot and dental care and education for them.
In terms of public scholarship, I’m currently wrapping up one project that’s on trauma-informed care called “Soul Stories: Voices from the Margins”, which will be published by the University of California Medical Humanities Press this year. The next one in-line is called Skid road: the intersection of Health and Homelessness,it is an in-depth narrative history of homelessness in King County, looking at how a fairly progressive city/county has historically dealt with the most vulnerable populations, and to figure out how we got to where we are now.
The project that is just starting as part of Urban@UW is the Doorway community café project. We had a faculty retreat in November 2016, and I was a part of brainstorming and planning projects that we could do as a university, looking at our resources, interests, and what we could do that has a higher impact on homelessness, nationally as well as right here on our doorstep. One of the ideas was a place-based studio/ community café. I am working with Lisa Kelly who is a professor in the UW School of Lawwho assists homeless adolescents and young adults with legal issues, and Charlotte Sanders with the School of Social Work. When I was doing study abroad work in Auckland, New Zealand with Jim Dires, we were with our students working with some agencies and NGO’s building partnerships to address homelessness in a more comprehensive, upstream way than just having soup kitchens. They opened a community café called the Merge café, where baristas and all the food prep people are working their way out of homelessness. The whole point was that they have community tables, there aren’t any single tables. There are unobtrusive social workers and outreach workers that help if people are struggling with housing insecurity or food insecurity. There are homelessness services without being known as “the homelessness café”. And we want to see if that model will work specifically for homeless young adults and adolescents in the U District.
How long have you been working on the challenge of homelessness?
I’ve worked as a nurse practitioner and health services researcher around homelessness since 1984. When I was a young adult I had the lived experience of homelessness for about 6 months. It’s a very individual type of experience that directly impacted my practice and my research. My 1st book is a health policy narrative called “Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling through the Safety Net” came out in August 2016 and it was the UW Health Sciences common book for AY 2016-17. Homelessness and trauma also affected my teaching; I would always include some of that perspective. But, I wasn’t as “out,” with it because it was—and still is—very stigmatizing and people automatically go to the individual choices that you made. So, that’s changed how I teach and also how I interact with students—in a good way.
What role do community partnerships play in your work?
Public health is by definition inter-professional, so I automatically value partnerships as they allow us to avoid the problem of tunnel vision. For something that’s a wicked problem like homelessness, you have to have inter-professional views, and I love it because it keeps me on my toes. We have many partnerships with homeless youth-serving agencies that operate with businesses, and with policymakers.
How will you use data in addressing homelessness through the Doorway Project?
My philosophy about research follows a pragmatic framework of exploring the best methods, questions, and approaches to figuring out possible solutions to societal problems. My research has always been mixed method so I do a lot that’s qualitative as well as quantitative. For my dissertation I used objective medical charts and physical exam findings as well as qualitative methods like participatory community mapping. I personally think it’s a really important way to go for wicked problems like homelessness—wicked being very multifaceted and so there is no one easy solution. For Doorway we are planning on having broad-based objective data as well as qualitative data.
What approaches do you believe are most effective for addressing homelessness in Seattle?
A community café! Since the “white persons founding of Seattle” we’ve had one of the highest amounts of homelessness per capita, from a continual boom-bust economy going all the way back to when the area attracted a lot of single men mostly for shipping and logging. Looking historically at policy solutions, I’m pragmatic and at the same time very empathetic to people who are experiencing homelessness. I have had the lived experience and I’ve worked with many people who are experiencing that, and at the same time I am a citizen and a homeowner and I have children, and I believe there are certain civil standards we need to have as a society. Coming from a nursing and public health perspective, huge homeless encampments are problematic, and they are symptomatic of something that is significantly wrong with how we are handling housing and social support. If somebody is substance abusing, has severe depression or other mental health issues and you get them a stable place to live, even if you don’t get them counseling and medications, a lot of the time they get better. We need a lot more supportive, longer-term housing, especially for young adults. I’m a mom of two young adults and they had lots of stability and resources, and a lot of the young people right out by the window here have not had those resources, they’ve gone through foster care, detention in the past, fractured lives, and trauma.
What do you see for the future of research and policy-making in your field, and in homelessness as an urban challenge?
More consumer involvement. I work with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and they focus on grassroots community involvement. Everything that they do includes consumers to vet certain changes. So, I think of having that as more of a model. Also, respecting people’s time: I’m paid to go to meetings because I’m a faculty member but someone who is struggling to make ends meet, a meeting is taking time away from what they could do otherwise to make money. So, paying them for their time and valuing their input—I think we could do that even more.
If you could give aspiring urban scholars a piece of advice, what would it be?
Get out there—and wear comfortable shoes! It’s one thing to sit in some little office pod or library being very removed. If you’re talking urban scholarship, community involvement is very important, in whatever way you are able to, get out there and take time to be a part of the community that you’re studying or living in.
Written by Shahd Al Baz, Urban@UW Communications Assistant
City of Bellevue selected as 2018-2019 UW Livable City Year partner
The year-long partnership connects city staff with students and faculty who will collaborate on projects to advance the Bellevue City Council Vision Priorities, specifically around livability and sustainability.
In the upcoming year, city staff will work with University of Washington’s Livable City Year program participants on a variety of possible projects that range from trail-oriented development and urban forestry best practices to potential public/private partnerships and multi-family community outreach strategies. Projects encompass many of the council’s strategic target areas of Economic Development, Transportation and Mobility, High Quality Built and Natural Environment, Great Places You Want to Be, Achieving Human Potential, and High-Performance Government.
Do you have questions about transportation in Seattle? Here are a few answers
Since The Seattle Times Traffic Lab launched a year ago, they’ve heard from scores of readers about getting around Here are a few:
Q: Do Uber and Lyft worsen Seattle’s traffic congestion?
A:A study in New York City said the growth of the app-based ride services could work against cities’ goals of unclogging streets and reducing vehicle emissions, as well as potentially undermining other transportation options, such as public transit and taxi services. Uber and Lyft dispute the New York report’s findings, pointing to the companies’ service of taking people to and from transit stations, for instance, and their support for proposals to grow public transportation.
According to University of Washington professor and traffic expert Mark Hallenbeck, Seattle’s dense neighborhoods have more at stake in terms of how the app-based services clog roads. People in those areas rely more on the companies compared with those in the suburbs — to evade parking hassles, for example. Read more.
Cascadia showcases how a coordinated corridor strategy can reinforce urban innovation
A central premise of Meeting of the Minds is that the flexibility, practicality, and focus of municipal governments make them ideal technological and social innovators. But can the ingenuity of U.S. cities be sufficiently amplified to effectively keep up with the pace of climate change, especially in the face of declining federal leadership?
Answering this question requires us to find the most effective scales for replicating urban progress. Metropolitan to regional scale programs can have the greatest impact, while household to district level projects are easiest to implement. Well-functioning cities and their staffs can help society achieve ambitious goals like reversing climate change and relieving global poverty, but that’s not what they are primarily paid to do. Instead, individual cities mostly aim their problem solving at local conditions. Fixing a pothole or increasing bus frequency can bring immediate relief to a neighborhood and kudos to a city council member.
Organizations like ICLEI and the US Conference of Mayors have long facilitated the sharing of these operational insights. As urban environmental issues have become more prominent, groups like the Urban Sustainability Directors’ Network and Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities have become more influential. With the advent of smart technology as an urban focus, new groups like MetroLab Network, Global City Teams Challenge, and the World Council on City Data are now emerging.
Recognizing that most of the world’s tech corridors are built around the innovation coming from two or more collaborating research universities, Microsoft has been funding enhanced connectivity between UW and UBC through the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative. The schools are now using this framework to actively expand research links in transportation, housing, public health, genomics, and law, as well as growing parallel training programs in “Data Science for Social Good.”
In Seattle, cost of meeting basic needs up $30,000 in a decade
A Seattle family of four must bring in $75,000 annually to pay for basic housing, food, transportation and health and child care – an increase of 62 percent since 2006, based on a new report from the University of Washington.
The city’s escalating cost of living may not be a surprise. But across the state, the amount of money required to make ends meet for two adults, a preschooler and a school-age child has risen as well, according to the Self-Sufficiency Standard for Washington State 2017. When compared to 2001, the first year the Self-Sufficiency Standard was calculated, costs for that same family of four have increased an average of 59 percent statewide.
Microsoft backs Seattle-Vancouver high-speed rail study as Cascadia conference aims to deepen ties
Pacific Northwest business and political leaders on both sides of the Canada-US border announced a series of agreements to strengthen relationships between Seattle, Portland, Vancouver B.C. and the surrounding areas.
The new partnerships, made ahead of the second Cascadia Innovation Corridor conference in Seattle this week, focus on technology, economic development, education and transportation. Government officials, universities, companies and research institutions are participating in the effort, which is meant to bring together the regions that have a lot in common but are separated by an international border.
One of the most intriguing ideas that came out of last year’s conference was a vision to build high-speed trains that would travel between Seattle and Vancouver in less than an hour. That idea is still alive and well. Microsoft kicked in $50,000 to supplement the state of Washington’s $300,000 budget to study the plan.
UW student Jessica Hamilton receives 2017 ASLA student honor award
Jessica Hamilton, a recent graduate of UW Department of Landscape Architecture, received the prestigious American Society of Landscape Architects Student Honor Award in the Communications Category for the Tactile MapTile project: an innovative interdisciplinary work combining big data, additive manufacturing, and pedestrian-centric landscape architecture. The project is a collaboration between the Taskar Center for Accessible Technology (housed by the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science) and UW Landscape Architecture (College of Built Environments) under the sponsorship of Urban@UW.
Each year ASLA honors the best in landscape architecture from around the globe. Recipients receive featured coverage in Landscape Architecture Magazine, the magazine of ASLA, and in many other design and construction industry and general interest media. Jessica, and her advisers, Anat Caspi, Ben Spencer and Thaisa Way, will be honored at the awards presentation ceremony during the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Los Angeles, October 20-23, 2017.
Tactile MapTile employs a unique tactile based representation of pedestrian-centric features in a map to enhance the spatial understanding for people with broad visual capacities. Each feature is represented by a different texture and pattern tactile design. Users with broad visual abilities can use the interface to customize and generate 3D map models based on their choice of location and which features to include.
How do your current research interests intersect with urban issues?
My work focuses on issues of poverty place and safety-net participation. Historically, poverty problems have been concentrated in the cities of the US; even today as the majority of poor people in our metro areas live in the suburbs, poverty rates remain much higher in cities. Problems of poverty are also much more persistent in cities, and often more racially segregated in cities than in suburban or other areas.
What led you to studying poverty?
When I was a college student, my dad lost his job. He didn’t have a college degree and he struggled to find work for a long time. Around this time I took a class in social policy and later started to do research with the professor. And I thought, if I did work that advanced our understanding of the safety net and how society could better provide help, we could help workers who have a hard time finding or keeping jobs. It seemed if I could do research around poverty and policy, it had the potential to help folks – like my Dad—who struggled sometimes to make ends meet.
How do you think research in poverty has changed over the years?
I think we have a better understanding today of the many factors that lead families to have income near or below the poverty line. We also have a better understanding of which programs best help families escape poverty or weather periods of hardship, and of what it takes to help workers without advanced education or training to find and keep good paying jobs. I also think we understand more of the racial and ethnic inequalities that underlie a lot of our poverty problems, although there remains much we need to know about inequality in the US.
What other fields of study do you regularly work with?
My work is very interdisciplinary. I draw on the work of sociologists, economists, political scientists, public health and social work, and sometimes urban planning and design. My interest in cross-disciplinary research also leads me to engage practitioners and policy-makers from a variety of different sectors whether that’s at the federal level, in state agencies or local government, or locally based non profit agencies. This outreach is something I’m working on these days, as I’m relatively new to Seattle and look forward to opportunities around issues of social service provision and poverty programming.
What would you say are the top challenges facing cities today? One of the biggest challenges today is the shifts in the labor market, where we’re creating many high-paying jobs that require a lot of education and training, and then we’re creating an abundance of low-paying jobs that don’t require a lot of advanced training. This leads to not only income inequality but also difficulties for people with less access to education and training to earn enough to provide the basics for their families.
Second, research clearly points to committing resources to early childhood education, and I think cities face significant challenges in dedicating resources to public education that supports kids from birth through college.
Last, many metro areas face both traffic gridlock problems but also limited access to and availability of public transit options. As cities become more dense and in many ways more vibrant places, solving those transportation problems is important for families across the income spectrum.
What do you see for the future of poverty research and policy-making? Right now we live in a politicized environment, which doesn’t take evidence seriously in policy debates. I worry that today’s ideological divides create a lot of challenges for researchers, policymakers, and for advocates who are interested in the value of evidence to improve programs and policies. Even though there may be limited interest in poverty policy at the federal level now, there is lots of opportunity with states and local governments to develop and study new tools or solutions, or to experiment with new programs.
So, gathering good data seems key to addressing poverty challenges.
When we don’t have good data about the nature of our poverty problems its hard for us to develop effective interventions. We risk pursuing policies or programs that either have no effect or unintended consequences. Low-income households don’t deserve just any program or policy; they deserve programs and policies that will work, and that will increase opportunity. We have an obligation to weigh objective evidence when we make policy that affects the most vulnerable families in our community.
What led you to UW?
One of the reasons I was attracted to UW and the Evans School—I moved here from the University of Chicago a few years ago—was of the large number of scholars in various departments interested in urban issues. I’m excited to see how the work of the university and the Urban@UW community continue to evolve together. I hope in the coming years we develop insights and solutions that will help the region tackle the many challenges it faces.
If you could give aspiring urban scholars a piece of advice, what would it be?
Spend time in communities engaging with local organizations. Spend time with families and case workers, program managers on the grounds.That kind of street-level perspective helps you not only identify important questions, it also helps makes sure that you’re answering those questions with integrity and with a grounding in real-world experience. Its easy for us to study urban problems far removed from the communities that are vulnerable. Rolling up our sleeves and spending time in neighborhoods and communities is critical to developing inclusive and culturally competent solutions.
Written by Shahd Al Baz, Urban@UW Communications Assistant
Why Seattle is poised to be a leader in ‘smart city’ technology and regulations
New technology is helping local government create “smarter” cities in a variety of ways, from adaptive traffic lights to open data platforms to advanced utility meters. But with innovation comes complication. Privacy, security, and equality challenges are inevitable when the public sector tries to implement technology with the help of private companies.
This was the subject of a roundtable discussion hosted by U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA) at the University of Washington on Wednesday in Seattle.
The hour-long meeting hosted by Urban@UW and UW eScience institute brought together key regional leaders from a variety of sectors: City of Seattle CTO Michael Mattmiller; Seattle Public Utilities CEO Mami Hara; Socrata CEO Kevin Merritt; Microsoft Government Solutions Manager Mike Geertsen and others — to talk about the role of government in establishing policies and processes that enable the modernization of cities.
One-third of Seattle drivers ‘cruising’ for parking, rides, study finds
More than one-third of drivers in Seattle are either searching for parking or are ridesharing drivers waiting for ride assignments. That’s according to a study by a group of University of Washington students looking at traffic sensor data. The four students involved called this practice of searching for parking or rides “cruising.” The project used 63 sensors that already scattered through downtown Seattle. Student Orysya Stus said the team used a complicated process of machine learning. As they looked at the data, they threw out some of the trips—many of which were too short to understand. After that, they found that 35 percent of what was left was “cruising.” They estimate that about 10 percent of those were Transportation Network Company (TNC) drivers waiting for an assignment to pick up someone. Uber and Lyft are examples of TNCs. “It translates to a lot of fuel wasted per year, lots of wasted time,” Michael Vlah, another team member, said of cruising.
What city ants can teach us about species evolution and climate change
Acorn ants are tiny. They’re not the ants you’d notice marching across your kitchen or swarming around sidewalk cracks, but the species is common across eastern North America. In particular, acorn ants live anywhere you find oak or hickory trees: both in forests and in the hearts of cities.
That’s why they’re so interesting to Sarah Diamond, a biology professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “We’re comparing this little forest island within a city to traditional forest habitats,” she says. Specifically, she and her colleagues are looking at how well city ants can tolerate higher temperatures compared to their rural cousins. The experiment is made possible by what’s known as the urban heat island effect, which describes the tendency of the built-up infrastructure of cities — think heat-absorbing concrete and asphalt, for example — to create a hotter environment than less developed areas.
If you own a cell phone or a mobile device you’re likely creating data that could be mapped. “When you add a Yelp review or geotag a tweet you’re actually volunteering geographic information, you are mapping,” said UW Tacoma Assistant Professor Britta Ricker. Most of us use maps to determine our location, to find out how to get from point A to point B. Ricker, who teaches in the university’s master of science in geospatial technologies program, sees maps in a larger context. “This is a skill you can apply to everything,” she said.
Traditionally, only the most highly trained professionals had access to the geographic information systems [GIS] needed to create most maps. The development of smart phones in the late 2000s opened up a world of opportunity. “A lot more people have access to things like GPS and can contribute geographic information using their smart phones,” said Ricker.
The democratization of mapping has major implications for citizen science. “For a long time geographers were constrained by how many researchers we could hire and how much land could be traversed,” said Ricker. “We now have a larger, more diverse group of people with smart phones who can contribute their local observations and data.”
MetroLab Network—a national network of 40 city-university partnerships focused on urban innovation—will be hosting their Annual Summit in Atlanta from September 13-15 (in partnership with the City of Atlanta and Georgia Tech). The Summit will bring together leaders from local government, universities, industry and non-profit and is an opportunity to share, discuss, and present on the impact of data, analytics, and technology on local government. Martin O’Malley (Former Governor of Maryland) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg (South Bend, Indiana) will be keynoting the event (w/ more speakers TBA). Free registration is available for government representatives and discounted registration is available for attendees from non-profits. Questions can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
First UW Livable City Year project reports delivered to the City of Auburn
Teams of University of Washington students have been working throughout this academic year on livability and sustainability projects in the City of Auburn. The yearlong Livable City Year partnership has given students a chance to work on real-world challenges identified by Auburn, while providing Auburn with tens of thousands of hours of study and student work.
Livable City Year connects UW faculty with projects based in Auburn, which are then incorporated into their classes. The program started this year, partnering with Auburn for the 2016-2017 year. This fall marked the first quarter for the program, when students in seven courses tackled 10 separate projects. The final reports from these projects are now complete.
“The very first Livable City Year projects were a success due to the hard work of our students and faculty, along with crucial guidance from Auburn city staff. It’s been an exciting process of co-creation,” said Livable City Year faculty co-director Branden Born of the Department of Urban Design and Planning. “The student teams working on these projects have worked to provide real benefits for the residents of Auburn, while also gaining real-world experience and a connection to the community.”
Students in Livable City Year courses spend at least one quarter working on a specific project identified as a need by Auburn. The student teams work with Auburn staff and community stakeholders as they conduct research and work on the projects.
Fall projects included assessments of Auburn’s work in reducing homelessness among the community, educational strategies to reduce pet waste and improper household items in wastewater, cultural city mapping, city values outreach, work on community place-making, and more.
“The projects that these students have taken on are at the core of many of our city’s major initiatives,” Auburn mayor Nancy Backus said. “Their work and dedication through the Livable City Year program has helped us make major strides forward in areas that are critical to the health, safety and happiness of our residents.”
After the quarter’s research work is completed, a student or student team works with Livable City Year’s editor and graphic designer to prepare a final report for the city, including any recommendations or possible future steps. By having several coordinated student teams across disciplines working on various projects, the Livable City Year program provides the City of Auburn with ways to enhance sustainability and livability elements within existing and future projects and programs.
While the fall project teams have completed their reports, this winter students have been working on projects including reducing food waste in school cafeterias; researching the costs, challenges and benefits of low-impact development stormwater technology; and better connecting Auburn’s residents socially, culturally, and economically.
Senior Ariel Delos Santos was one of the students in Born’s fall class which looked at connectivity and community place-making in Auburn.
“Working with the LCY program brought a novel component to our educational experience. Instead of a standard classroom setting where our homework is only seen by the professor, our final products were intimately tied to the city and its community members - which greatly motivated us to do more work and be more attentive to those who will be affected,” said Delos Santos, a senior double major in Community, Environment & Planning and Aquatic Fishery & Sciences. “As a student, I loved how closely I was able to work with my peers regularly and the camaraderie that we built. I definitely learned how to maintain professional relationships, accountability, communication, and my natural role in team settings.”
For more information, contact Born at email@example.com or 206-543-4975; LCY program manager Jennifer Davison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-240-6903; and Jenna Leonard, Auburn’s climate and sustainability practice leader, at email@example.com or 253-804-5092.
Universities establish joint center to use data for social good in Cascadia region
In an expansion of regional cooperation, the University of British Columbia and the University of Washington today announced the establishment of the Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative to use data to help cities and communities address challenges from traffic to homelessness. The largest industry-funded research partnership between UBC and the UW, the collaborative will bring faculty, students and community stakeholders together to solve problems, and is made possible thanks to a $1-million gift from Microsoft.
“Thanks to this generous gift from Microsoft, our two universities are poised to help transform the Cascadia region into a technological hub comparable to Silicon Valley and Boston,” said Professor Santa J. Ono, President of the University of British Columbia. “This new partnership transcends borders and strives to unleash our collective brain power, to bring about economic growth that enriches the lives of Canadians and Americans as well as urban communities throughout the world.”
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to use data to help our communities make decisions, and as a result improve people’s lives and well-being. That commitment to the public good is at the core of the mission of our two universities, and we’re grateful to Microsoft for making a community-minded contribution that will spark a range of collaborations,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce.
Seattle’s rapid rise in homelessness, coinciding with increasing costs in housing and living, have brought significant challenges to economically vulnerable populations in the Puget Sound. In spite of a sense of urgency regionally and in many areas of the country, sufficient resources, effective systemic fixes and broad support still have not come together to end homelessness.
As a research and teaching institution, the University of Washington seeks to develop strategies to address the problems facing citizens experiencing homelessness. These efforts include developing rigorous research questions and projects, analyzing the barriers to housing, and working with practitioners and civic leaders to find sustainable solutions.
University of Washington faculty and students are now looking to how we might expand our capabilities and our connections with communities to collaboratively work to mitigate the effects of homelessness, improve access to and retention of housing, and contribute to ending homelessness.
As policymakers, communities, and practitioners consider changes in priorities and services to address the recently accelerated rise in homelessness, new research questions and needs arise requiring ethical monitoring and the implementation of productive and effective measures. This presents both an opportunity and challenge for the University of Washington.
One effort to build on the UW’s work includes Urban@UW working in collaboration with the West Coast Poverty Center and other key partners to catalogue existing homelessness-related projects and research across the University’s departments and centers, in order to gain insights into strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. A faculty retreat in fall 2016 brought together researchers and practitioners from across UW’s three campuses to share information and develop new projects.
Connecting researchers from various and occasionally disparate fields is essential to fostering new collaborations capable of advancing thinking at a rate commensurate with the challenge at hand. By building a network of current initiatives we aim to facilitate the development of new opportunities for those interested in participating; and foster research that improves data analytics, evaluates policies and strategies, and addresses the barriers to housing for the diverse populations experiencing homelessness.
As part of increasing research and data analytic approaches to homelessness, Urban@UW organized a workshop at the 8th International Conference on Social Informatics conference in downtown Bellevue, WA in November 2016. Local and national researchers presented their work on technological and data-driven solutions to improve services, understand population processes, and develop effective community interaction with persons experiencing homelessness.
Additionally, on January 17 and 18, the MetroLab Network, a national city-university network hosted by the City of Seattle and the University of Washington, met in Seattle City Hall for a Big Data and Human Services Workshop. Keynote speakers and breakout discussions explored ways to direct research and technology to improve services while addressing income inequality, health, mobility, and homelessness. The School of Social Work will be Urban@UW’s partner in addition to others as we move forward in this arena.
Many UW faculty staff and students work, and many have worked for decades, in different ways to end or ameliorate the effects of homelessness. Urban@UW takes the challenge of how to propel this work forward and, though smarter collaboration, increase effectiveness. As UW and Urban@UW build a collective homelessness initiative, we look forward to more opportunities for community stakeholders to participate. Keep an eye out for updates from Urban@UW and the University of Washington regarding these issues. If would like more targeted communication about homelessness, please consider joining our mailing list, or our listserv for urban-related information and events. Any questions may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“What we really found we needed was a unit on campus that could support the longer term investments in the data science for social good urban space,” Howe said. “Advancing the success of this family of partner projects … all around the area of urban data is really the mission of Urbanalytics.”
Originally posted at the UW Daily; Urban@UW is a partner catalyzing the Urbanalytics project.
Big data to help human services: Topic of UW, City of Seattle event Jan. 17
Using big data to address human services ― including health, foster care and the challenges of homelessness ― will be the focus of a workshop next week at Seattle City Hall hosted by the University of Washington and City of Seattle along with MetroLab Network, a recent White House initiative to improve cities through university-city partnerships.
The event begins on Jan. 17 with remarks from UW President Ana Mari Cauce, Seattle Deputy Mayor Kate Joncas, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire. Trish Millines Dziko, founder and director of the Technology Access Foundation, will address how to mentor the next generation of leaders.
In the afternoon, representatives from Microsoft, the City of Chicago and several academic institutions will discuss how data science can be incorporated into more efficient and effective urban human services.
MetroLab Network, which launched in fall 2015 as part of the White House Smart Cities Initiative, includes more than 40 university-city partnerships that will focus on the research, development and deployment of projects that offer technologically and analytically based solutions to challenges facing urban areas. Over the next year, MetroLab members will develop solutions in four areas, called “labs”: water and green infrastructure; sensors; traffic and transportation; and big data and human services.The Seattle-UW partnership is one of the founding members of MetroLab and will focus in part on pairing academic researchers with city leaders to address homelessness issues as well as transportation. Next week’s event will also include a day of workshops for researchers and human services experts to make connections on existing projects and identify priorities for the partnership.
Work will continue after the meeting as MetroLab members focus on opportunities for collaborative research and scalable projects. The workshop will also consider which tools and materials ― data-sharing standards, white papers, software ― would be broadly beneficial to city-university efforts. Urban@UW, the UW’s eScience Institute and Urbanalytics are several university groups that will play a large role in the partnership.
The water and green infrastructure lab kicked off in October 2016 with a workshop in Washington, D.C., and the other labs will begin work in 2017.
The combination of civic and public entities leveraging data for increased efficiency and novel applications. These new approaches create occasionally contested territory where calls for transparency and openness are met with deep concerns over privacy and security. Calo, et al, engaged in “cross-disciplinary assessments of an open municipal government system” using Seattle, WA as a case study for future possibilities.
Crosscut offers a profile of Trish Dziko, co-founder of University of Washington’s Technology Access Foundation, looking at the impacts of her career in technology and working to collapse gaps in gender and race in the world of technology.
A podcast, produced by The Department of Better Technology, which assists governments in enhanced software delivery systems and platforms, interviews Justin Erlich of UC Berkeley and Special Assistant Attorney General to the California Department of Justice, discuss Kamala Harris’s OpenJustice platform and the implications of open data for justice transparency issues.
Amen Ra Mashariki, Chief Analytics Officer in New York City’s Office of Data and Analytics, is interviewed by GovTech Magazine about New York City’s data explorations and impacts on businesses, efficiencies, and potential evolutions.
Shannon Mattern, associate professor in the School of Media Studies at The New School, offers a critical perspective on possibilities for smart cities through a discrete focus on how citizens might physically interact with these systems.
Barbosa et al. explore the emergence of open urban data initiatives across North America. An analysis of over 9,000 open data sets considers data integration opportunities and data quality issues associated with this new approach to public information.
This paper describes the inaugural offering of the eScience Institutes Data Science for Social Good program, modeled after the University of Chicago program of the same name. Writers reflect on the process of organizing and structuring a program that brings together students and practitioners with varying backgrounds and experiences to design, develop, and deploy new solutions to high-impact problems in the Seattle Metro Area.
NextCity highlights benefits and important considerations in regard to tools developed by nonprofit data analytics firm SumAll, which uses data to help social workers decide where to focus their efforts.
City of Chicago Chief Data Officer, Tom Schenk Jr., opines in Open Resource Magazine that similar to start-ups and large companies, cities are poised to leverage big data - from Twitter to the Array of Things, to improve efficiency of their services.
In 2015, the Metrolab Network was announced as a part of the Obama Administration’s new “Smart Cities” Initiative to help local communities tackle key challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, fostering economic growth, managing the effects of a changing climate, and improving the delivery of city services.
Livable City Year releases RFP, invites cities to partner for 2017-8 academic year
The University of Washington’s Livable City Year initiative is now accepting proposals from cities, counties, special districts and regional partnerships to partner with during the 2017-2018 academic year.
UW Livable City Year (UW LCY) connects University of Washington faculty and students with a municipal partner for a full academic year to work on projects fostering livability. The municipal partner will
identify a selection of projects in their community that could be addressed by UW LCY courses. Areas of focus include environmental sustainability, economic viability, population health, and social equity, inclusion and access.
Urban@UW is a foundational supporter of Livable City Year. This article was originally shared on the Livable City Year website, written by Daimon Eklund.
UW, City of Seattle and MetroLab Network to host workshop on big data and human services
On January 17, 2017 the City of Seattle, MetroLab Network and the University of Washington will convene experts from local government and universities to discuss common challenges and propose collaborative, data-driven solutions to human service issues. Work will continue after the meeting as members focus on opportunities for collaborative research, and scalable projects. The workshop will also consider which tools and materials (data sharing standards, white papers, software) would be broadly beneficial to city- and county-university efforts.
October Recap: Urban Transporation, Health, and Justice
October has seen a lot of research and engagement surrounding urban design, health, and transportation from University of Washington’s urban scholars and practitioners. Here at Urban@UW we’ve kicked off our Livable City Year program, reflected on our first full year of work and collaborations, and are planning for our symposium on Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change (November 7-8).
The Livable City Year Program is in its first year of operation. Partnering university courses, students, and instructors with a city, this year Livable City Year is working with the City of Auburn to collaboratively generate ideas, analysis and potential solutions to advance urban livability and sustainability.
Urban@UW turned 1! Our Director Thaisa Way penned a letter reflecting on our mission, accomplishments, and next steps for Urban@UW to further collaborate with communities, cities, and researchers to collectively advance urban thinking and problem-solving.
The College of Engineering has opened a new lab working with the City of Seattle through support from UW, Costco, Nordstrom, and UPS. The Urban Freight Lab is uses analytics to generate potential solutions as transportation infrastructure and delivery systems become stressed by increasingly heavy use.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
UW EE Faculty to Tackle Urban Mobility
For urban roadways, traffic-choked streets have become synonymous with the weekday commute. Over the decades, strategic conversations between city officials, engineers and policy makers have sought to lessen congestion and provide increased transportation options. However, as cities continue to develop and populations increase, the results of years of conversation cannot materialize fast enough. On the thrumming streets of Seattle and Nashville, the consumer becomes a key player on urban transportation initiatives.
The project, which is a collaboration between the University of Washington, City of Seattle, Vanderbilt University and the City of Nashville, tackles urban transportation congestion by engaging the individual user through the use of smart devices. The three-year, proof-of-concept project has received a collaborative National Science Foundation (NSF) US Ignite Grant.
Electrical Engineering Assistant Professor Baosen Zhang is the Principal Investigator on the project and Electrical Engineering Assistant Professor Lillian Ratliff is the Co-Principal Investigator. The University of Washington leads the multimodal transit project, collaborating with Vanderbilt University and the Cities of Nashville and Seattle to test the research.
The project utilizes smart devices due to their proliferation in the urban commuter space. The commuters, therefore, become active agents in a shared economy. Currently available applications for multimodal transport solutions focus on individual users and their local perspectives. This current application does not accurately represent an overall solution. Although there is large-scale data being collected by both municipalities and users, neither group has the resources to develop real-time analytics and controls.
“No one has done this type of collaborating and computing before,” Ratliff said. “It not only focuses on commuters as a whole, but it also looks at two socioeconomically diverse cities – Seattle and Nashville.”
New Seattle freight lab tackles urban delivery congestion
SEATTLE (AP) — In this city where residents can get practically anything delivered to their doorsteps — often within hours — trucks, bikes, cars and buses regularly jostle for space on Seattle’s streets.
The rise in e-commerce and on-demand delivery has put increasing pressure on fast-growing cities like Seattle to rethink how they manage traffic congestion, as well as curbs, sidewalks, parking and other infrastructure.
On Wednesday, the city of Seattle teamed up with the University of Washington to improve how goods are delivered in the city — solutions they hope can be used in other cities across the country.
Seattle pledged $285,000 over the next three years to the UW’s new Urban Freight Lab, which will test more efficient methods to deliver goods that are ordered online and delivered to large residential or retail and commercial buildings. Costco, Nordstrom and UPS are also founding members.
Originally published by the Associated Press and Phuong Le
The Annie E. Casey Foundation to Support MetroLab Network’s Big Data + Human Services Lab
The Annie E. Casey Foundation, which aims to improve delivery of human services to children and families by focusing on big data solutions with cities, countries, and universities, will support MetroLab Network’s Big Data + Human Services Lab.
MetroLab Network is pleased to announce that the Annie E. Casey Foundation will be supporting the formation of its Big Data + Human Services Lab, which will bring together city policymakers, university researchers and other experts to accelerate big data and analytics approaches focused on human services.
The Lab is part of MetroLab Network’s effort to coordinate research, development and deployment projects underway across its city, county and university members. It will offer a venue – through in-person workshops and site visits and virtual discussions and exchange – for its members to collaborate and explore opportunities for scalable approaches. The Lab will include representatives from local government, universities, industry, nonprofits, and other experts.
The Data + Human Services Lab will kick off with a workshop in Seattle hosted by the City of Seattle and University of Washington on January 17 and 18, 2017. It is part of a series of Labs hosted by MetroLab members across the country. The other Labs will focus on Water and Green Infrastructure; Traffic and Transportation; and Urban Sensing.
“We are really excited about this important partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation,” said Governor Martin O’Malley, who serves as Senior Fellow at MetroLab Network and is convening and chairing its Advisory Council. “Too often, our human service interventions arrive long after the damage is done. The proper use of big data and predictive analytics can save a lot of vulnerable young lives, and heal a lot of families.”
“Our Foundation develops innovative solutions to help all children, families and communities succeed,” said Patrick McCarthy, president and CEO of the Casey Foundation. “We value our partnership with MetroLab Network because these efforts recognize that public systems serving the most disadvantaged families need better data to identify areas of concern, and they must work collectively to ensure that neither race nor zip code is a barrier to opportunity.”
“The term smart cities is often associated with the most effective sensors or most energy efficient streetlights,” said Ben Levine, Interim Director of MetroLab Network, “While those technologies provide important benefits, local governments must also be focused on opportunities to enhance the critical services that they provide. We are excited about the opportunities that partnerships with universities can offer to government agencies focused on improving the lives of their residents.”
Stay tuned for more information, as Urban@UW is proud to be working with the MetroLab Network!
The eScience Institute‘s Data Science for Social Good (DSSG 2016) research fellows concluded their summer with a rich symposium of research and strong media responses, including: The Seattle Times and ORCA card data, TechCrunch overviewed each project, GeekWire profiled the ORCA project and OpenSidewalks, and Geekwire published another piece showcasing connections made between Amazon reviews and food safety.
Crosscut concluded a very well-done 3 part series on Seattle’s homeless.
The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $179,000 to fund a 2017 summer institute focusing on western cultural conceptions of urban/nature dynamics by using Seattle’s complex environmental history as a focal point to examine broader implications for global justice and health.
Urban@UW, the School of Public Health, UW Sustainability, College of Built Environments, and Undergraduate Academic Affairs are proud to be working with the University of Washington and the City of Auburn in the Livable City Year program. This new initiative combines the talents of civic and academic institutions to work collaboratively work towards actionable solutions.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
UW student project taps ORCA cards, unlocks data trove
Students in a UW summer fellowship program called Data Science for Social Good work to coax valuable information from overlooked data, and one potential upshot might be improved bus service.
If you’re a regular bus rider, you might think that the area’s transit agencies use the information from your ORCA card to learn which buses are most crowded during rush hour, and to fine-tune the area’s routes.
You would be wrong.
Turns out none of the area’s transit agencies have ever made significant use of the trove of data from ORCA cards — the prepaid, plastic cards used to pay for more than 60 percent of all rides on the area’s nine regional transit systems.
So this summer, a team of Ph.D. students took 21 million ORCA-card readings and wrangled the data into a form that can be used to discover where, and when, we go when we ride the bus.
Uneven: Mobility, Sidewalks, and Maps (including a map-a-thon!)
Much has been said about sidewalks as theaters of urban life. Productive democratic friction between strangers is one of the hallmarks of good city building, yet this vision of a grandly equitable platform for urban life is not without flaws. Sidewalks may appear to be benign slabs of concrete or brick, but as platforms for daily life they are inextricably bound to the politics of urban areas. In rapidly growing cities such as Seattle, these challenges can often come to the forefront.
Our conception of sidewalks is being expanded by the integration of a variety of transportation right of ways, parklets, as well as café and restaurant seating. As we seek to inject green spaces, bike corridors, and social business facades into confined spaces between buildings and streets the politicality of sidewalks becomes more legible.
The spatial density of sidewalks isn’t just an issue of integrating various right of ways, there are also very real implications for personal mobility.
When faced with navigational questions most of us are quick to ask a passerby, or perhaps more likely now, to pull out a phone and open an app. However, this solution relies on having a cellphone and is woefully inadequate for people with limited mobility. Perhaps you’ve confronted the flaw in this reflex in your own adventures across town, or when helping a relative or friend with an assistive device, or even when riding your bike. Suddenly you find yourself having to pay very close attention to surface conditions and curb cut availability. Inadequate pedestrian and navigational infrastructure can be a nuisance to anyone, but for people with mobility limitations or low vision these conditions can not only be extremely frustrating, but hazardous.
The event does not require people to have any experience in data collection, GIS, or coding. OpenSidewalks and Taskar representatives will guide you through some quick tutorials, and you are encouraged to bring your phone, a laptop and mouse if you have one, but there is ample opportunity for field mapping, using an old-fashioned pen and paper as well. Not to mention there’s free pizza and refreshments AND this is child friendly event.
This sort of civic engagement with our public space is essential, particularly in a city like Seattle. Our combination of wet winters, along with a mix of soft sandy soils and heavy glacial till can lead to sidewalks heaving and becoming uneven over time. Bike lanes have been used as parking zones, and seemingly ubiquitous construction often results in sidewalk closures or revisions that are not always easily navigable.
In light of the city’s ongoing development there has been frustration and concern as to who has priority in these pubic right of ways, and who is being affected. Sidewalk closures and rerouting present challenges to any pedestrian, and these issues are amplified for people with low vision and mobility restrictions. Seattle Weekly quoted Jacob Struiksma, a blind resident of the Roosevelt neighborhood, about the numerous challenges, delays, and general unpredictability created by widespread construction projects.
The integrity of sidewalks is not only a matter of temporary inconvenience, the Weekly also indicated it can curb people’s transportation preferences, shrinking walking range to what is explicitly known and immediate. Closures and alterations are necessary aspects of developing cities and this complex relationship highlights one of the reasons collaborations like that of the OpenSidewalks project, King County Metro, and the broader community are so important.
Those in poorer neighborhoods often face sustained complications in regards to pedestrian infrastructure. Governing magazine covered this issue in depth in 2014, finding that poorer areas have approximately double the pedestrian fatality rates of wealthier areas. This problem is created by a perfect storm of structural inequality patterns where more disenfranchised areas of a city often have: poorly maintained infrastructure, less transportation options, and are frequently either bounded or divided by major roads or highways. Further compounding these infrastructural conditions, residents in such neighborhoods are often the ones who depend most on walking and public transportation. The lingering effects of disinvestment and redlining unfortunately manifest in mobility issues for minority or disenfranchised communities. The Washington Post interviewed Kate Lowe, assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, about her study of New Orleans sidewalks. Lowe looked at the continuity of sidewalks between bus stops in neighborhoods and found that areas with low poverty rates, particularly white communities, were most likely to have continuous sidewalks. Those with high poverty rates were most likely to have intermittent sidewalk coverage.
Correlations between SAT scores or college acceptance rates and zip codes demonstrated strong correlations between citizen well-being and location, and as it turns out even the conditions of our sidewalks can be found to indicate inequities across urban space.
The need for both better information about access and pedestrian mobility is necessary as we attempt to transition from a completely car-centric culture to a city embracing multi-modal, equitable transportation systems. But cognizance of sidewalks’ importance for mobility across different communities may unfortunately remain an issue and illustrates that urban environmental justice concerns even seemingly benign sidewalks.
Written by Andrew Prindle, Urban@UW Communications Coordinator
Forget Pokemon Go. New tech incubator takes VR to the next level
If you’ve hung out by Lake Union, Westlake, or Green Lake at any point over the past three weeks, you’ve likely seen person after person point his or her phone toward the sidewalk or trees to try to catch that Bulbasaur, Blastoise, or Dratini. So it won’t be news to you that the digital and physical worlds are melding in Seattle.
Yes, augmented reality is taking off in the city. But it’s about so much more than Pokémon. Vikram Jandhyala, executive director of the University of Washington’s CoMotion innovation program, says Seattle is one of the world’s centers for augmented and virtual reality (AR and VR) technology. Which is why CoMotion is developing a new incubator space for AR and VR startups that’s scheduled to open its doors on August 15.
Seattle’s proliferation of AR and VR has been a long time coming: Most of the leading hardware was at least partially developed here, including Microsoft’s HoloLens, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, and the HTC Vive. “The groups that create the software are here as well,” Jandhyala says. “It’s really the epicenter of VR/AR technology.”
Continue reading to see how AR/VR technology could impact storytelling and narrative sharing in disconnected urban areas.
While we are in the midst of a beautiful summer, things at the University of Washington and at Urban@UW are moving right along. We’ve seen some original writing, research, and even a podcast come out of community covering topics from marine noise pollution to data science and minimum wage to police reforms.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
Minimum Wage Study: Effects of Seattle wage hike modest, may be overshadowed by strong economy
The lot of Seattle’s lowest-paid workers improved following the city’s minimum wage increase to $11 in 2015, but that was more due to the robust regional economy than the wage hike itself, according to a research team at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.
Although the ordinance appears to have boosted wages for the city’s lowest-paid workers, the benefits of the increase may have been partly offset by fewer hours worked per person and slightly less overall employment, the Seattle Minimum Wage Study research team found. Estimated income gains for the average worker were modest – on the order of a few dollars a week – and sensitive to methodological choices.
The team presented its findings in an update to the council this morning (July 25).
The ordinance took effect April 1, 2015, raising the minimum hourly wage from $9.47 to $11. Under the law, businesses with fewer than 500 employees are scheduled to reach the $15 an hour wage in 2021. Employers with 500 or more employees, either in Seattle or nationally, will reach that level in three years, or 2017.
The challenge of this report, Vigdor said, was to isolate the effects of the wage increase ordinance from all other concurrent economic factors, chiefly the surging regional economy. This enables the researchers to compare Seattle to what it might look like today had the minimum wage ordinance never happened — knowing, too, that the strong economy was slowly pushing wages up regardless of the ordinance.
For their research, the team used employment, hours and earnings records from the Washington Employment Security Division going back to 2005 to create a model of how the local labor market works. They also viewed data on other nearby regions that did not increase their minimum wage, to better understand how rising property values, expanding tech employment and even the weather might have influenced what the team observed in the city itself.
The research sought to answer two questions: What has happened to Seattle’s labor market since passage of the minimum wage ordinance? And more crucially, what has been the effect of that ordinance on the labor market?
The first question involves simple comparisons of yesterday with today. But, Vigor said, “To imagine what a higher minimum wage might accomplish in a region not enjoying a significant economic boom, or what might happen in Seattle next year if the boom should wear off, the second question is the only one that matters.”
The researchers found that:
Seattle’s lowest-paid workers saw larger-than-usual paychecks in late 2015, but at most, only 25 percent of the observed income gains — a few dollars a week — can be attributed to the higher wage.
Businesses relying heavily on low-wage staff showed signs of cutting back, though they too benefited from the strong economy. They added jobs at about the same rate as businesses outside the city, but employees’ working hours in the city lagged by an average of about one hour per employee per week.
Even amid a relative boom, Seattle’s lowest-wage earners show signs of “lagging behind” a control group drawn from other parts of the state. The employment rate was down about 1 percentage point for workers who earned less than $11 an hour in mid-2014; their average hours declined, and the proportion switching from jobs in the city to elsewhere ticked upward by 2 to 3 percent.
“Our report indicates that Seattle’s track record after increasing the minimum wage is neither as negative as some had feared nor as positive as some had hoped,” Vigdor said. “While the vibrant local economy is boosting employment and incomes up and down the economic ladder, the positive effects of a higher minimum wage are being at least partly offset by cutbacks in hours.”
The researchers cautioned, however, that their findings are statistical averages that could mask distinctions among different types of workers. The findings address only the short-run impact of Seattle’s wage hike to $11 an hour and don’t reflect the full range of experiences for thousands of individual workers in the Seattle economy.
Next, the research team plans to incorporate more detailed information about workers by linking employment records to other state databases. This will provide the capacity to determine, for instance, whether the workers benefiting most from higher minimum wages are more likely to be living in poverty.
Other coming work will include:
Extending the analysis to Seattle’s second wage increase, in April 2016, when the ordinance began distinguishing between businesses of different sizes
Collecting additional survey information from Seattle businesses and conducting more interviews with a sample of workers tracked since early 2015.
The team expects to make its next report to the city in September; that report will focus on how the minimum wage hike has impacted Seattle nonprofit organizations.
The research was funded in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant to the UW’s Center for Demography and Ecology. Funding also was provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and the City of Seattle.
For more information, contact the research team at email@example.com or J. Paul Blake, Evans School director of media and external relations, at 206-543-3958 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Originally published by UW Today & Peter Kelley.)
Data Science for Social Good 2016
This summer we are thrilled to be supporting the eScience Institute’s Data Science for Social Good (DSSG) program.
Modeled after similar programs at the University of Chicago and Georgia Tech, with elements from eScience’s own Data Science Incubator, sixteen DSSG Student Fellows have been working with academic researchers, data scientists, and public stakeholder groups on data-intensive research projects. This year’s projects specifically focus on Urban Science, aiming to understand and extract valuable, actionable information out of data from urban environments across topic areas including public health, sustainable urban planning, education, transportation, and social justice.
Topics being addressed this summer include a community based approach to improving accessible pedestrian way-finding, mining online data for early identification of unsafe food products, enhanced transit system operations and planning, and tool development for effective poverty estimation. For more information on the work being done this summer check out the DSSG project descriptions.
Now entering their 5th week, students with backgrounds ranging from applied math and data visualization to international relations and landscape architecture, are not only learning new approaches to data challenges, but interdisciplinary collaboration. Student fellows have been exploring new data science tools, as well as a broad range of ethical considerations with support from the Human Centered Data Science Lab. Read more about the fellows, and their reflections on the program as it moves forward on the DSSG blog.
Unlikely Allies: Future of Cities Festival - Seattle, July 5-6th
July 5 - 6, 2016 – Seattle, WA, USA
What happens when you bring a diverse group of global and local citizens, innovators and entrepreneurs from 80+ cities around the world into a city, inspire them to scale and improve their solutions for city challenges and connect them to make these changes lasting and transferable to other cities across the globe?
Unlikely Allies is a two-day festival that takes place in one new city each year, bringing together global and local thought leaders, changemakers, inspired citizens and their unlikely allies: the hackers, artists, policy makers, activists, corporate innovators and designers needed to make real change happen on key issues of our world today.
The Unlikely Allies festival departs from the conventional “I talk, you listen” conference by creating a living laboratory inside the city with activities based on live participation, creative exchange and lasting collaboration. Enjoy a multitude of inspiring experiences over the course of two days:
A City Solutions Laboratory: hosting high-level discussions, engagement and networking by thought-leaders, innovators, experts, practitioners and change-makers from Seattle, from across the US and from all over the world, on-site;
Learning Expeditions across the city of Seattle;
and a neighborhood Unlikely Allies in the Park that will highlight the importance of local neighborhood innovation in the future of cities.
Reading List for Patricia Romero Lankao Visit 5/11
In anticipation of Patricia Romero Lankao’s visit we thought you might enjoy these pieces to get a feel for her research and thinking.
Water in Mexico City: What Will Climate Change Bring to Its History of Water-Related Hazards and Vulnerabilities?—This research paper delves into the history and evolution of water related risks and crises in Mexico City in order to gain insight to socio-environmental challenges as a result of climate change. http://eau.sagepub.com/content/22/1/157.full.pdf+html
Are We Missing the Point? Particularities of Urbanization, Sustainability and Carbon Emission in Latin American Cities —Models for change and the discourse of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is predominately influenced by the perceptions and disposition of high-income nations, particularly those in the Global North. This paper examines how these ways of thinking apply (or misapply) to the situation of Latin American cities. http://eau.sagepub.com/content/19/1/159.full.pdf+html
Urban Ecosystems and the North American Carbon Cycle—Modeling energy use, land use, and traffic emissions are already common practice, but how might including data about urban carbon sources and sinks expand our knowledge of how cities operate? Romero Lankao et al explore this question in order to understand urban areas as whole ecosystems with regard to carbon balance. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01242.x/full
Dr. Patricia Romero Lankao studies the interactions between urban development and global environmental change. She is a social scientist at the Research Applications Laboratory and Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Dr. Romero Lankao is active in both the international and US human dimensions community, and views urbanization as both a social and environmental phenomenon, and one of the most influential irreversible and evident anthropogenic forces in the Earth system.
This presentation is part of the speaker Series on “Urban Environmental Justice in an Era of Climate Change,” hosted by Urban@UW in partnership with the West Coast Poverty Center, the Climate Impacts Group, the College of the Environment, the School of Social Work, and the Graduate School.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
Rethinking Data Science for the Social Sciences: Urban Sociology
On Wednesday, May 4th, an interdisciplinary panelwill explore the intersections of data and cities. Rethinking Data Science for the Social Sciences: Urban Sociology will look at how the availability of new forms of data has transformed the way researchers may approach their work across disciplines. This panel will bring together experts from data science and the social sciences who are utilizing new and exciting forms of data to discuss the opportunities and challenges of using these data to study fundamental question in urban sociology.
Speakers include: Megan Comfort (Senior Research Sociologist, RTI International), Karen Seto (School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, Yale), and Sarah Brayne (Department of Sociology, University of Texas at Austin).
Event Sponsors: UW Stice Family Lecture Series, eScience Insitute, Urban@UW, Center for Statistics and the Social Sciences, Information School.
UW aids city of Seattle on open data initiative
If people find it easier to get data from the city of Seattle going forward, they can in part thank the University of Washington.
A team of UW faculty members and doctoral students spent the past six months working with the city on a new open data policy unveiled last week by Mayor Ed Murray. The policy requires all city departments to make their data as accessible as possible to the public while upholding privacy and security considerations.
The UW team conducted focus groups to hear about the public’s wishes and concerns, assessed the city’s existing datasets and vendor agreements for security vulnerabilities, and held in-depth interviews with officials in eight city departments to identify their data processes.
“It was pretty intense,” said , head of the UW’s Urban Infrastructure Lab and one of the project’s leaders. “We wanted to take a really comprehensive approach, because we knew that the city wanted to take an innovative and large step forward in terms of tackling this issue.”
Murray signed an executive order Feb. 26 directing all city departments to comply with the new policy, which he said is intended to help “problem-solvers outside of government” find solutions to civic challenges.
We’ve created a new urban map gallery to explore how other people and organizations are studying and visualizing data. The gallery features seven cities facing different social, economic, and geographic issues. This curation is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather provide insight and inspiration. Maps included track everything from sound to subway pathogens.
MetroLab Network is now featuring several members’ projects online. Visit their site to explore the research, development & deployment projects being undertaken by some of our city-university members (Seattle & UW included). Check out projects that address transportation, energy, and climate issues. And stay tuned, they will be adding many more projects from their other members.
Monthly Wrap up January 2016
It’s been a great start to 2016.
UW Alumni association and History Department put together a woderful history lecture series: Excavating Seattle’s histories: Peoples, politics, and place check out details and videos here>
The CBE also hosted a number of great speakers and events including SUSTAINING JAPAN: 3.11 FIVE YEARS ON lecture and panel discussion with Hitoshi Abe
UW’s school of Oceanography is giving Google a run for it’s money when it comes to mapping the sea floor in the Puget Sound region. Learn more about the project using new multibeam sonar technology here >
SDOT‘s new DR 10-2015 goes into effect to protect pedestrians, but in general there is room for improvement in our country’s sidewalks. Read about obstacles for visually challenged pedestrians in Seattle here> and the inequality of sidewalks here>
Coming Up! 2nd NIAC Workshop on Urban Science & Engineering
February 2-3, 2016 NHS Hall, Center for Urban Horticulture University of Washington
Dr. Charles Catlett, Argonne National Laboratory/University of Chicago, Director, Urban Center for Computation and Data Dr. Paul Waddell, University of California, BerkeleyProfessor of City & Regional Planning
Cities house more than 70% of the U.S. population; provide essential services for states, regions, and the nation; and are hubs for innovation. Yet, cities also face enormous challenges. They consume a major portion of the nation’s energy, produce a corresponding amount of greenhouse gases, are saddled with aging infrastructures, and plagued with traffic congestion. Cities also are vulnerable to major disruptive events (e.g., earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, disease outbreaks, and cyber attacks) for which they often are ill prepared. In addition, all cities must cope with the changes wrought by climate change.
Advances in computing, communications, and sensor technologies offer the possibility of dramatically advancing our understanding of the behavior of cities, as well as fuel hopes that such knowledge can help enhance a city’s efficiency, sustainability, resiliency, and livability.
In addition to the keynote speakers, the 2nd Workshop on Urban Science & Engineering will feature presentations from the City of Seattle, Puget Sound Regional Council, University of Washington, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and other institutions in the greater Seattle area.
Leaders Gather at UW to Define Vision for Smart Communities
Smart city leaders from around the world are gathering at UW’s Seattle campus for a two-day workshop called the “NSF Visioning Workshop on Smart and Connected Communities Research and Education” to discuss the future of smart and connected communities on January 13-14, 2016. The UW Department of Electrical Engineering is organizing and hosting the workshop, on behalf of the National Science Foundation, with the goal of facilitating dialogue between stakeholders, including municipalities, states, cities, universities, industry, federal government and private foundations.
The concept of creating smart communities is emerging as a way to address a variety of problems facing both busy urban centers and rural communities. By utilizing data analytics, sensors and other technology, the goal is to overcome various challenges, such as power distribution, healthcare, transportation, air quality and access to education, shelter, water and food.
Re-Imaging Urban Scholarship: Differencing the Data
Winter Quarter 2016 | HUM 597E | 1 credit, C/NC
Instructor:Thaisa Way (Landscape Architecture)
Friday, January 15, 12-1:20 pm (Startup Hall)
Friday, January 29, 12-1:20 pm (Henry Art Gallery)
Tuesday, February 2, and Wednesday, February 3 (Participation encouraged as feasible, Center for Urban Horticulture)
Thursday, February 4, 9-10:20 am (eScience Institute, Physics/Astronomy Tower)
Thursday, February 25, 6-7:30 pm (Communications 120)
Friday, February 26, 12-1:20 pm (Communications 202)
This microseminar explores how we might re-read cities by acknowledging and differentiating the data upon which we build our knowledge. As Lisa Graumlich (Dean, College of the Environment) recently wrote, “To imagine desirable, novel futures, we need to get even better at working at the boundaries between science and society. Now more than ever we need to build bridges with thinkers, who are shifting the political and cultural dialog, and doers, who are leading innovation in technologies, policies, and practices.” This seminar seeks to catalyze thorny discussions across disciplines and their data. Our purpose is to build a thicker intellectual foundation for engaging multiple audiences in the challenges and opportunities of urbanism in the 21st century.
After an introductory discussion on cities and contemporary urban research, we will convene around the visits of a series of important leaders in a diversity of disciplines. Beginning with an exhibit by the architect Keller Easterling (Professor, Architecture, Yale University), we explore her work at the Henry Art Gallery that questions the gifts or exchanges made between city governments and corporations suggesting the urban landscape as an economic site and commodity to be negotiated. In discussion with data scientist Charlie Catlett (Senior Computer Scientist, Argonne National Laboratory and Visiting Artist, School of the Art Institute of Chicago), we will investigate big data as a framework for what we can know about cities and urban systems. Finally, Mario Luis Small (Grafstein Family Professor, Sociology, Harvard University) challenges us to reconsider the heterogeneity of American ghettos in the contemporary city.
Students will write a one-to-two-page reflection on each of the three urban discussion topics: Corporations & Government,
Big Data & Sensors, and Heterogeneity & Ghettos.
Questions? Contact Thaisa Way, email@example.com.
UW/Seattle MetroLab Partnership
Have you been wondering what exactly is going to happen with the Seattle / UW partnership under the MetroLab initiative?
The three “named” projects from Seattle will be the Array of Things partnership with Chicago, Private data sharing with the Tech Policy Lab, and a smart grid study of the relationship between temperature and power organized by UW’s Electrical Engineering department.
Check back for progress on these and other smaller projects as well.
For a little background information the goals of MetroLab Network are to:
Enable the city-university partnerships to share their projects to ensure their broad dissemination and adoption, including the development and sharing of the infrastructural tools required to support the scaling of promising solutions and deploying best practices across the network
Identify common issues shared by multiple metro areas that can best be solved by multi-city, multi-university collaboration.
Create a platform for Network members to jointly plan and seek funding resources to support multi-city projects.
UW initiative aims to tackle city, region’s most pressing urban issues
When Thaisa Way put a call out last spring to see if University of Washington faculty members working on urban issues wanted to join forces, she wasn’t sure what the response would be.
“There were a lot of people who said, ‘You’re not going to get anyone to show up,‘” said Way, a UW associate professor of landscape architecture.
But more than 80 people representing 12 of the UW’s colleges and schools turned up to the gathering, held on a Monday afternoon at the tail end of the quarter. The meeting launched the creation of Urban@UW, an interdisciplinary effort that has been incubating for more than three years to bring together UW researchers, Seattle officials and citizens to collaborate on the most pressing issues facing a rapidly growing city and region.
There are more than 200 UW faculty members working on urban topics, Way said, from geographers using GIS technology to address the complexities of homelessness to data scientists working on transportation challenges to teams of researchers working on food access and Seattle’s minimum wage.
Faculty members, particularly younger ones, are increasingly motivated by a desire for their work to have a real-world impact, Way said, and urban issues present a significant and compelling opportunity to make a difference in their own backyard, as well as around the globe.
“I think the generation of faculty who have come into the university in the past decade want to be part of a larger effort,” said Way, Urban@UW’s executive director. “Urban issues are a very visceral, very present challenge and a remarkable opportunity. That’s the fantastic thing about cities — they’re both our problem and our answer.”
UW President Ana Mari Cauce and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray will discuss the new MetroLab Network, a partnership between the city and university spearheaded by UW’s eScience Institute and Urban@UW. The collaboration, part of the White House’s new Smart Citiesinitiative, will focus on infrastructure, service delivery to citizens, democratic governance and increased civic participation and data-driven policymaking.
Following the presentations, more than 90 faculty members, city and county decision-makers and local stakeholders will brainstorm ideas for collaborative projects in six areas: disaster preparedness and response, food and economic disparity, housing and poverty, climate change and environmental justice, growth and transportation, and the MetroLab Network. Each topic will have a UW faculty lead and a designated community member going forward.
The goal, Urban@UW Program Manager Jen Davison said, is to develop pilot projects that will be launched over the coming year and supported by Urban@UW, anything from a series of conversations to a small-scale research project.
“We don’t want to be too prescriptive for what they come up with,” Davison said. “We want these projects to be driven by the needs of the community and the capacities of our researchers and teachers.”
Other universities have launched urban-focused initiatives, but Way said they tend to be more narrowly focused and involve fewer departments. Seattle is an ideal city for the effort, she said — small enough to be nimble but large enough to have big-city problems, a place where bold thinking and ambition thrive.
“We’ve got this creative, innovative community that can help us think about what it takes to do something differently,” Way said. “We have this wonderful opportunity to think across disciplines in a lot of different worlds and practices.”
The effort will take a holistic approach, Way said, with the goal of fostering well-being and opportunity for all Seattle residents.
“These problems are multifaceted, and that means cities can’t address housing without addressing where schools are, without addressing transportation, without addressing employment,” she said.
Urban@UW received funding for three years from the UW Office of Research and is working in partnership with CoMotion, the UW’s innovation incubator, as well as with UW’s eScience Institute. Its headquarters are in Startup Hall, just off campus, and Davison is its sole employee.
Way envisions Urban@UW becoming a hub that the mayor of Bellingham or an NGO in Bogota could tap into for expertise on a range of issues, and where urban scholars might come from around the world to build and gain knowledge that can be applied in other cities.
“We want to be able to show that we can be a resource for more than Seattle,” she said. “I hope we can continue to build these partnerships so that in ten years, we’re an internationally recognized center for innovative urban research and practice.”
UW students address urban issues, pitch innovative solutions at NextSeattle Workshop
How does a city grow? As more and more people are moving to urban centers throughout the world, what will the modern city look like? How will we ensure that all of its residents, rich or poor, are able to access public goods and services? And for all the creative energy that a city harnesses in one place, how will we make sure that no one is shunted to its margins, left to fall through the cracks?
These are just some of the questions students began to tackle at NextSeattle, an intensive four-day workshop sponsored by CoMotion, Urban@UW, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, and the UW eScience Institute. The workshop was at its core an academic course in which students “engaged a breadth of disciplines and practices as they explored how to work with diverse communities to foster a more inclusive, equitable and healthy city,” said Thaisa Way, the lead faculty and director of Urban@UW.
UW Partners with Seattle for Smart Cities Initiative
UW Today is reporting that, as part of a new White House Smart Cities Initiative called The MetroLab Network, the University of Washington has partnered with the City of Seattle in joining “a new national network of university-city partnerships that will work on ‘smart city’ solutions.”
“Great universities can’t succeed without great cities,” said UW Interim President Ana Mari Cauce about the collaboration she and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray have signed onto. “Together we will help our city become more just and inclusive, so that it can serve as a model for other communities around the nation.”
Writes UW Today: “The partnership aims to marry expertise and knowledge from UW researchers — from engineers inventing new sensors to sociologists studying determinants of poverty to data scientists parsing problems in new ways — and the experience and learned wisdom of employees tackling day-to-day challenges of running a city. [...] The Seattle/UW partnership will place an emphasis on innovations that create a more equitable and inclusive city — one that is affordable, safe, secure and that fosters the health and well-being of all its residents.”
The UW/Seattle collaboration is one of twenty-one initial university/city MetroLab Network partnerships. The Network hopes to tackle challenges in three “thrust areas”: infrastructure, city services, and civic engagement. UW’s involvement will be coordinated through the university’s Urban@UW initiative and a kickoff event is scheduled for October 29th, with Interim President Cauce and Mayor Murray in attendance to discuss the initiative and other related projects.
PNNL Hosting 4th Workshop on Next-Generation Analytics for the Future Power Grid
1st International Workshop on Smart Cities & Urban Analytics (UrbanGIS)
Now Taking Submissions!
CALL FOR PAPERS:
The 1st International Workshop on Smart Cities and Urban Analytics (UrbanGIS) 2015 in conjunction with ACM SIGSPATIAL 2015 Seattle, WA, USA - November 3, 2015 http://engineering.nyu.edu/urbangis2015/
About half of humanity lives in urban environments today and that number will grow to 80% by the middle of this century; North America is already 80% in cities, and will rise to 90% by 2050. Cities are thus the loci of resource consumption, of economic activity, and of innovation; they are the cause of our looming sustainability problems but also where those problems must be solved. Smart cities are leveraging advanced analytics solutions, usually with spatio-temporal data, to support urban management and more informed decision making. Big urban data, if properly acquired, integrated, and analyzed, can take us beyond today’s imperfect and often anecdotal understanding of cities to enable better operations, informed planning, and improved policy.
Despite many efforts in tackling challenges of smart cities through big data and spatio(-temporal) analysis, there is no standard spatio(-temporal) data infrastructure able to support the wide range of requirements in different problem areas. This workshop will provide a forum for researchers from various domains to present their results and to work together toward developing such an infrastructure. This includes, but not limited to, techniques, policies, and standards required to acquire, process, and use spatio(-temporal) data,particularly in the urban context.
We are soliciting papers (including significant work-in-progress) that describe academic research efforts as well as applications and prototypes that leverage spatial or spatiotemporal data analysis to address urban challenges. Areas of research include but are not
Application and experimental experiences in smart cities
Data indexing techniques for massive spatio-temporal dataset
Human mobility modeling and analytics
Large-scale visualization of urban data
Machine learning for predictive models
Parallel and distributed computing of big urban data
Safety, security, and privacy for smart cities
Smart buildings, grids, transportation, and utilities
Social computing, sensing and IoT for smart cities
Streaming/realtime processing of spatio-temporal data
Submissions should be at most 8 pages for full papers and at most 4 pages for short papers or work-in-progress, formatted according to ACM formatting guidelines. Papers will be evaluated by the program committee members for the significance and relevance of their research contributions, as well as their presentation. Short papers are expected to be work in progress or of smaller scale but the same evaluation criteria will be applied as for full papers.
Huy T. Vo, New York University
Juliana Freire, New York University
Claudio T. Silva, New York University
Charlie Catlett, Argonne National Lab & University of Chicago
Alex Chohlas-Wood, New York Police Department
Theo Damoulas, University of Warwick
Bill Howe, University of Washington
James T. Klosowski, AT&T Labs - Research
Ming Li, University of Nevada - Reno
David Maier, Portland State University
Carlos Scheidegger, University of Arizona
Manuela Veloso, Carnegie Mellon University
Lucien Wilson, KPF & Columbia University
Jianting Zhang, City University of New York
CoSSar presented by Scott Miles
Presented at June 1st Urban@UW Launch Meeting
Urban Land Teleconnections by Luke Bergmann
Presented at June 1st Urban@UW Launch Meeting
Northwest Institute for Advanced Computing: PNNL & UW presented by Thom Dunning
Presented at June 1st Urban@UW Launch Meeting
Urban Data Science @ UW presented by Bill Howe
Presented at June 1st Urban@UW Launch Meeting
eScience Institute’s Data Science for Social Good Projects Announced
eScience Institute’s Data Science for Social Good Projects Announced Bringing together data scientists to work on focused, collaborative projects designed to impact public policy. This Summer teams will be looking at:
Assessing Community Well-Being Through Open Data and Social Media - providing neighborhood communities with a better understanding of the factors that impact their well-being. http://thirdplacetechnologies.com/
King County Metro Paratransit - an on-demand public transportation program that provides a vital link to mobility for people with disabilities who are unable to use traditional fixed route services, picking up passengers at or near their doorstep and delivering them to their specified destination. http://metro.kingcounty.gov/tops/accessible/programs/access.html