Category Archives: technology

What we’re reading this week

What we’re reading online this week:

  • Central and Prospect Park rush hour car traffic is reduced (Link)
  • Charter Bus startup looking to fill in transit gaps for residents of the outer boroughs (Link)
  • 3D print a bridge for your city (Link)
  • MTA Bus drivers conduct protest while on the job, clogging up parts of the city   (Link)
  • UES bicycle hit-and-run leads to offer of safety classes (Link)
  • De Blasio and Cuomo differ on picks for MTA board (Link)

And in case you missed it, we’ve launched our applications for this year’s Emerging Leaders in Transportation program. See more information here.

Photo: Traffic in Kuala Lumpur by Michael Loke

By: Sean Lewin

The Future of the Streetscape Photos

Last night’s discussion about the future of the streetscape was exciting! We’re looking forward to a collaborative planning process for whatever comes our way. Thanks to our thoughtful and energetic panelists:

  • Sean Basinski, Director of the Street Vendor Project
  • Neil Giacobbi, Executive Director, Public Affairs, AT&T
  • Stacey Hodge, Director of the Office of Freight Mobility, NYCDOT
  • Jeff Risom, Partner and Managing Director, Gehl Studio
  • Dani Simons, Director of Corporate Communications & External affairs, Motivate
  • Rodney Stiles, Director of Research & Evaluation at New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission
  • Anthony Townsend, Senior Researcher at NYU Rudin Center for Transportation
  • Moderator: Sarah Kaufman, Assistant Director for Technology Programming, NYU Rudin Center for Transportation

and thank you to the Van Alen Institute for the great photos and gracious hosting.

Taxi Shift-Change Hackathon: Event Recap

The NYU Rudin Center joined forces with NYC’s Taxi and Limousine Commission to help resolve the taxi shift-change issue- when taxis are unavailable between 4 and 6 p.m. due to driver handoffs of vehicles. The hackathon took place on April 11 at the Rudin Center, under the sponsorship and technical guidance of Google.

Data scientists, civic hackers, graphic designers, analysts, government policymakers, and statistics hobbyists gathered to discover solutions to the taxi gap, which is estimated to miss out on about 11,000 rides daily.

We’ll post some of the solutions soon (the hackers are still hacking!), but in the meantime, here are some pics of the event:

 

NYC TLC Commissioner Meera Joshi kicked off the event, sharing the challenges and concerns of her agency; NYU Rudin Center Director Mitchell L. Moss discussed the importance of taxis to mobility in NYC; NYC TLC Director of Research and Evaluation Rodney Stiles presented the event-related data and the shift-change issue specifics.

The 40 hackers plugged away all day long, sharing results along the way.

 

Participants were treated to a Q&A with current taxi drivers, who added the on-the-ground perspective to this work.

NYC taxi drivers respond to participant questions at the NYC TLC Shift-Change Hackathon on April 11, 2015.
NYC taxi drivers respond to participant questions at the NYC TLC Shift-Change Hackathon on April 11, 2015.

 

The NYU Rudin Center is thrilled to have hosted this first event of its kind. We hope that in the future we can help connect the public sector with smart, thoughtful individuals to work toward  solutions for civic issues.

Thanks to our participants, the NYC TLC and Google.

 

Event: The Future of the Streetscape

Please join the NYU Rudin Center and the Van Alen Institute on June 11 for an evening of discussion:

How will the streetscape look and function in 20, 50, and 100 years?

The urban streetscape is facing increasing demands for space from a variety of users – pedestrians, cyclists, drivers, a spike in deliveries to homes and offices, food trucks, mobile commercial spaces, and more – without recalibrating the permitting or design. Join us for a series of presentations that ask urban planners, designers, architects, and others: What is the street of the future? We’ll review new visions for pleasant, productive streetscapes that balance the needs of transportation infrastructure, commercial activity, and residents young and old.

Sarah Kaufman, Digital Manager, and Anthony Townsend, Senior Research Scientist, will present at the event on behalf of the Rudin Center, along with esteemed professionals from throughout the transportation and tech fields.

Tickets and more information are available here: https://vanalen.org/events/on-the-street/

Students: Please email the Rudin Center for discounted tickets.

Image above via Flickr user Mel Schmidt

 

The Rudin Center in the News

The NYU Rudin Center has appeared in the press recently, discussing policy, tech and social media:

  • Smart buses and public transportation can be compatible – Sarah Kaufman in Wired. (link)
  • How NYC “has merit as a subject of art” – Mitchell Moss in the Wall Street Journal. (link)
  • Benefits of Citi Bike’s weekend reset – Mitchell Moss in The New York Times. (link)
  • Social media keeps transit riders informed – Sarah Kaufman in Government Technology. (link)
  • Anthony Townsend named to Chicago’s Internet of Things Council – Chicago Tribune. (link)

Image above: Interior of Leap Bus, via Wired.

Farewell to Traffic Lights

Sarah Kaufman, Digital Manager, wants New Yorkers to prepare for change.

“In the coming decades, a familiar overhead sight—this one fully a product of the automobile age—may disappear. The disappearance of the familiar green, yellow, and red circles above our heads will mark a profound transformation in the way we move through cities.”

Sarah illustrates how cities are transitioning away from traffic lights in a new piece from Satellite Magazine. Read more and explore some of the questions involving this trend.

Big Data, Big Picture

Next City talks to two of our researchers, Anthony Townsend and Sarah Kaufman, about patterns in big data and challenges cities face in using it. And they ask, would you share your private data for the good of city planning planning? Well, would you?

“As the data accumulates, these traffic schemas acquire a third dimension: They show a city changing not just from day to night, but from year to year.

They show a city changing not just from day to night, but from year to year. Using cellphone data, for example, “you can really see the story of how a metropolitan area has evolved, over the last decade,” says Anthony Townsend, the author of Smart Cities.

Many of these ideas are hypothetical, for the moment, because so-called “granular” data is so hard to come by…Corporate entities, like Uber’s pending data offering to Boston, don’t always meet researchers’ standards. “It’s going to be a lot of superficial data, and it’s not clear how usable it’ll be at this point,” explains Sarah Kaufman.”

A Discussion on the Future of Digital Technology and Urban Mobility

On December 3, the Rudin Center held an event on “Re-Programming Mobility: What Do Smart Phones and Self-Driving Cars Mean for Future Cities?” which explored four forecasts of mobility, land use and transportation planning in U.S. metropolitan areas in 2030. A presentation of the Rudin Center’s recent report on digital innovation and transportation was presented by Senior Research Scientist Anthony Townsend, followed by commentary and insight from four invited panelists:

  • Robin Chase, Buzzcar
  • Stacey Hodge, New York City Department of Transportation
  • Greg Lindsay, Visiting Scholar, NYU Rudin Center
  • Benjamin De La Peña, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

A full run-down of the event can be found at NYU News.

http://wagner.nyu.edu/events/rudin-12-03-2014

Photos by Emily Rhodes and Jorge Hernandez

Apps for Street Safety

The best app for keeping pedestrians safe in NYC? One that tells them, on their phones, whether the street they are about to cross has a “don’t walk” sign lit. This app, Tug, was one of the winners of AT&T’s Connected Intersections Challenge; the NYU Rudin Center hosted the awards ceremony this morning.  See the video to learn more about the challenge:

The winners of the Challenge were:

Solutions for Pedestrians & Cyclists – Grand Prize Winner & Popular Choice Winner
Tug
Utilizing low-energy Bluetooth technology, messages are sent from crosswalk signs to all smartphones at the intersection running the application in order to alert pedestrians to wait for oncoming traffic or to cross safely when they have the right of way.

Solutions for Drivers – Grand Prize Winner
Anti-Sleep Alarm
Using a Samsung Gear 2 smartwatch and a smartphone, the Anti-Sleep Alarm app detects the drowsiness of a driver via hand gestures or facial recognition and prompts the driver to pull over and rest or it sets off an alarm if the app determines the driver is falling asleep behind the wheel.

Solutions for Pedestrians & Cyclists– Second Prize Winner & Multi-Modal Winner
Rider Alert
Rider Alert hardware scans the street for Bluetooth-enabled smartphones while moving through traffic with a motorist. It will sound an alert on smartphones running the Rider Alert application when pedestrians and cyclists are nearby. The app also uses smartphone sensors to notice if the driver is looking at the smartphone screen and warns the driver to look up.

Multi-Modal Winner
Yield
Utilizing Bluetooth low-energy technology, Yield detects drivers or pedestrians within 10 to 30 meters in proximity of a smartphone using the app and delivers an alert notifying them to the other person’s presence.

Solutions for Drivers – Popular Choice Winner
Drowsy Detector
Using facial recognition technology, the app determines when a driver is getting drowsy and sends a warning followed by an alert that can be deactivated only when driving is ceased. The app also sends alerts to others in the area that a drowsy driver is nearby.

Solutions for Drivers – Second Prize Winner
Drive Safely
An app that uses NFC technology to determine if a smartphone user is sitting in the drivers seat of a vehicle and sends an auto-reply message to incoming calls and texts while the vehicle is moving The app runs in the background and will not activate on public transit or when the smartphone owner is a passenger in a vehicle.

Solutions for Pedestrians & Cyclists – Large Organization Recognition Award
Look up!
Utilizing GPS technology, smartphone accelerometer and wearable sensors, the app anticipates when a pedestrian is crossing an intersection and delivers an on-screen alert warning the pedestrian to look up.

Solutions for Drivers – Large Organization Recognition Award
SafeDrive App
An app that awards points to drivers for not texting while driving and provides the smartphone owner the opportunity to redeem those points for products and services at partner companies.

The judges were:  Marissa Shorenstein of AT&T; Kim Wiley-Schwartz of the New York City Department of Transportation; Mitchell Moss of NYU Rudin Center for Transportation; Matthew Brimer of General Assembly; Luke DuBois of New York University’s Polytechnic School of Engineering; and Justin Hendrix of NYC Media Lab.

Event photos below; we highly recommend checking out the apps.

 

New Report: Re-Programming Mobility

Anthony Townsend’s new report on the future of transportation:

“With generous support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management has developed a set of four alternative future scenarios set in a selection of representative U.S. metropolitan areas in 2030. Based on our synthesis of current and anticipated technological innovations and expert speculation on their impacts from over 150 source documents, these scenarios highlight:

  • likely and possible shifts in the market for mobility, public financing schemes, and the overall structure and function of the U.S. transportation system at a metropolitan level,
  • the kinds of organizational changes that transportation regulators, funding agencies, and public planning institutions need to begin preparing for now, and
  • the kinds of skills and practices that might be required of transportation planners in the future.”

Read more on the project website.