Assistant Director for Technology Programming
Sarah M. Kaufman is Assistant Director for Technology Programming at the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation, where she researches, advocates for and educates about cutting-edge technologies in transportation. She is also an Adjunct Professor of Planning, teaching Intelligent Cities.
Ms. Kaufman leads several projects related to improving transportation through technology: Intelligent Paratransit, to rethink how we transport seniors and the disabled; Emerging Leaders in Transportation Fellowship, a program to enhance innovation at all levels of transportation planning and policymaking; and Job Access, a comparative study of how livelihoods are affected by level of access to mass transit in New York City.
Ms. Kaufman has been cited in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, NBC Nightly News, CityLab and Urban Omnibus for her work on gender and biking, job access and intelligent transportation.
Ms. Kaufman joined NYU Wagner after nearly five years at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, where she led the open data program, created a conference and online exchange between the MTA and software developers, and assisted in developing the agency's social media program.
Ms. Kaufman earned a Master of Urban Planning from NYU’s Wagner School in 2005, specializing in infrastructure, transportation and telecommunications, and wrote an award-winning thesis designing a bus arrival time signage system. She earned her BA from Washington University in St. Louis, majoring in science writing and concentrating in computer science. She is a font of useless NYC transit trivia.
Global urbanization is driving demand for an estimated $40 trillion in infrastructure over the next two decades. At the same time information technology is spreading off the desktop and out of offices and homes into buildings, infrastructure and objects. As these two trends collide, a broad range of stakeholders -‐ the information technology industry, real estate developers, technology startups, citizens and civic leaders – are all looking for new opportunities to address both existing and emerging urban problems using “intelligent” systems. This course will explore the landscape of technologies being used in urban planning and policymaking today, and will discuss: what are intelligent cities really? What are the intended and unintended potential consequences? What is the role of urban policy and planning in shaping their evolution? This course will focus on emerging topics in intelligent cities: data and predictive analytics, open data, citizen science, smart transportation and digital master planning. Students are expected to have some basic knowledge of fundamentals of urban affairs. This is not a technology or engineering course – technical concepts will be explored during the lectures as needed to explain their significance for cities.
Subway riders are often frustrated by the lack of notifications about long and unexpected delays, despite the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s efforts at using social media. The need for rider information was highlighted on June 5, 2017, when a rush-hour F train was stuck underground in a tunnel for nearly an hour between the West 4th Street and Broadway-Lafayette Street stations.
This report includes an analysis of the event and the need for essential information through social media.
Since the opening of the Second Avenue Subway’s three new stations on January 1, 2017, pickups by taxis and for-hire-vehicles (FHV) in the immediate vicinity have declined overall, according to a new report by NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation.
Since the opening of the Second Avenue Subway’s three new stations on January 1, 2017, taxi pickups and dropoffs in the immediate vicinity have declined, according to a new report by NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation.
Ridership on the New York City Subway has grown drastically in the last four decades, from 966 million in 1975 to 1.7 billion in 2015; at the Times Square subway station alone, rides increased by 29 million. This explosive growth in usage demonstrates the system’s importance to both the city and region. New York City’s 24-hour subway promotes a dynamic economy, livability, and connectivity giving residents access to economic opportunities and a quality of life that is unparalleled in most world cities.
Growth in subway ridership reflects the changes in New York City. This report addresses key moments in the City's history affecting subway ridership, including the high homicide rate in the 1980s, introduction of the MetroCard, attacks of September 11, 2001, Financial Crisis of 2008, and peak tourism numbers in 2010-2015.
The health and continued growth of the subway system is critical to New York City’s future, and must be maintained and upgraded to reflect New Yorkers’ increasing reliance. Recommended system upgrades are included in this report.
Citi Bike: What Current Use and Activity Suggests for the Future of the Program takes stock of the system’s strengths and areas for growth as policymakers determine the City’s role in bringing Citi Bike to all five boroughs.
Key findings include:
- Citi Bike is most heavily used in Manhattan- 83% of September trips started & ended there, with concentration around major transportation networks. If the system expands to the outer boroughs ridership is expected to be lower, speaking to the need for additional private or public financing— but will likely still primarily transport New Yorkers to commercial centers and other forms of transportation like buses and subways.
- The majority of Citi Bike trips are short in both time and distance; 98% lasted under 45 minutes and 48% lasted under ten minutes— highlighting the importance of station density to match how people are using the system.
- Only 112 stations (18%) are located in Zip Codes that have median household incomes of less than $50,000—reinforcing the importance of improving bike equity and access throughout the system.
The paper, published by Sarah M. Kaufman and Jenny O’Connell, is the result of an open forum on the status of Citi Bike hosted at the Rudin Center in November of 2016. Expert speakers included Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Transportation Committee; Tracey Capers (Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation/BSRC); Elena Conte (Pratt Center for Community Development); and Paul Steely White (Transportation Alternatives). NYU Rudin Center for Transportation Director Mitchell L. Moss moderated.
The panelists agreed that Citi Bike provided a valuable transportation service, and alternative funding methods would be necessary to support expansion to a five-borough Citi Bike network.
As Americans aged 65 or older increase from fifteen to twenty percent of the population by 2030, cities across the United States will face a transportation crisis. Urban residents who are physically unable to use public transportation, including the disabled and mobility-impaired elderly, are offered paratransit services. These paratransit systems, as required by an unfunded 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act mandate, are enormous, and growing annually in new applications and budget requirements.
Paratransit demand is growing nationwide and costs continually increase (now $5.2 billion nationwide); the user experience is often reported as poor. To address efficiency and user experience, this report assesses the state of paratransit, analyzes innovative solutions in three cities and recommends potential technological solutions. The Intelligent Paratransit Technological Upgrade Framework includes improvements in the areas of Onboarding, Reservations, Dispatch & Routing and User Experience.
By applying new technological systems to a 26 year-old mandate, paratransit services can be made more efficient and provide a better customer experience. In New York City, these upgrades could save the agency up to $133 million per year. Improving mobility solutions for the elderly and disabled is possible, necessary and urgent.
Pope Francis’ visit to the United States is an historic event that will disrupt life in Philadelphia, Washington D.C., but not in New York City. In Washington D.C., federal government workers are being advised to telecommute. Philadelphia is towing cars and shutting down roads and transit in the event area. For New Yorkers, the Papal visit will limit mobility in some parts of Manhattan, but only for limited time periods. With the nation’s largest subway system and municipal police department, New York is accustomed to large-scale events and high-profile visitors like the Dalai Lama, the President of the United States and foreign leaders coming to the United Nations.
Although public transit provides access to jobs throughout the New York City region, there are actually substantial inequalities in mobility. By focusing on the neighborhood level, the NYU Rudin Center for Transportation has identified communities that are substantially underserved by the public transportation system. The Rudin Center ranked New York City’s 177 neighborhoods according to the number of jobs accessible from the neighborhoods by transit, within 60 minutes and completed by 9:00 a.m. on a Monday morning. This analysis reveals high variation in levels of transit access across New York affect residents’ employment levels, travel modes and incomes. This report seeks to affect the implementation of new policies and transit services to increase economic opportunity for New Yorkers, and ensure that the transportation system is fully leveraged to connect workers with jobs. These improvements will benefit all New Yorkers’ access to job opportunities and economic mobility.
New York City launched Citi Bike, the largest bike share program in the United States, in May 2013. This study examines the first two years of Citi Bike and its role in New York City mobility. Citi Bike’s station connection to public transportation hubs and station density are major factors in the system’s high ridership and use. Seventy-four percent of Citi Bike stations are within a five-minute walk of a subway station entrance, providing a “last mile” solution for transit commuters. The system’s greatest challenges are expanding and diversifying its customer base while also rebalancing the number of bicycles available at high-demand stations. Citi Bike has become an integral part of New York’s transportation culture, even though it serves a limited geographic area. This report addresses those challenges and recommends strategies for the future.
Emerging technologies offer transit agencies an opportunity to transform fundamental aspects of their operations and the way they communicate with their riders. With nearly ubiquitous smartphones and social media tools among growing ridership patterns, transit providers can use aggregate mobile phone data and social media posts to improve system management.
Data-based reports can reach the operations center faster than field personnel, with mobile phone networks indicating station crowding or a passenger posting a photo of another pulling the emergency brake. Exceeding traditional reporting mechanisms (exclusive information from personnel) would save time and lower the costs of field monitoring while raising the trust between transit agencies and their customers.
By employing “co-monitoring” - the monitoring of field conditions through a combination of staff reports, data analysis and public observations – transit agencies will save time and costs for information gathering, improve their responsiveness, and establish working partnerships between the agencies and their customers. This report proposes a framework for a co-monitoring system, and discusses the expected benefits and challenges, as well as policy recommendations for agencies pursuing co-monitoring systems. Keys to successful co-monitoring systems are agency openness to new streams of data and respectful dialogue from both management and riders. Well-designed co-monitoring tools will put transit on track to manage smarter, more versatile transit systems for the twenty-first century.
Timely updates, increased citizen engagement, and more effective marketing are just a few of the reasons transportation agencies have already started to adopt social media networking tools. Best Practices for Transportation Agency Use of Social Media offers real-world advice for planning and implementing social media from leading government practitioners, academic researchers, and industry experts.
The book provides an overview of the various social media platforms and tools, with examples of how transportation organizations use each platform. It contains a series of interviews that illustrate what creative agencies are doing to improve service, provide real-time updates, garner valuable information from their customers, and better serve their communities. It reveals powerful lessons learned from various transportation agencies, including a regional airport, city and state departments of transportation, and municipal transit agencies.
Filled with examples from transportation organizations, the text provides ideas that can apply to all modes of transportation including mass transit, highways, aviation, ferries, bicycling, and walking. It describes how to measure the impact of your social media presence and also examines advanced uses of social media for obtaining information by involving customers and analyzing their social media use.
The book outlines all the resources you will need to maintain a social media presence and describes how to use social media analytical tools to assess service strengths and weaknesses and customer sentiment. Explaining how to overcome the digital divide, language barriers, and accessibility challenges for patrons with disabilities, it provides you with the understanding of the various social media technologies along with the knowhow to determine which one is best for a specific situation and purpose.
Social media have become an essential source of information before, during, and after disasters. Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr—instantaneous, far-reaching, and interactive— have become the convergence point for a range of information sources, dialogues, and dynamic content. A survey conducted by the New York University (NYU) Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management found that during Superstorm Sandy, social media were the second-highest-rated source of information, ranking higher than other popular sources such as television and radio news, news websites, and community groups.
Social media networks allow transportation providers to reach large numbers of people simultaneously and without a fee, essential factors for the millions of commuters and leisure travelers moving through the New York region every day. This report, based on earlier findings (from Part 1), which analyzed local transportation providers’ use of social media, and a seminar on the subject in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, recommends social media policies for transportation providers seeking to inform, engage and motivate their customers.
The goals of social media in transportation are to inform (alert riders of a situation), motivate (to opt for an alternate route), and engage (amplify the message to their friends and neighbors). To accomplish these goals, transportation providers should be:
- Accessible: Easily discovered through multiple channels and targeted information campaigns
- Informative: Disseminating service information at rush hour and with longer-form discussions on blogs as needed
- Engaging: Responding directly to customers, marketing new services, and building community
- Responsive: Soliciting and internalizing feedback and self-evaluating in a continuous cycle
Hurricane Sandy demonstrated the strengths and limits of the transportation infrastructure in New York City and the surrounding region. As a result of the timely and thorough preparations by New York City and the MTA, along with the actions of city residents and emergency workers to evacuate and adapt, the storm wrought far fewer casualties than might have occurred otherwise.
This report evaluates storm preparation and response by New York City and the MTA, discusses New Yorkers' ingenuity in work continuity, and recommends infrastructure and policy improvements.
Social media networks are valuable tools for the public outreach needs of transportation providers: they are free, instantaneous, reach large numbers of people simultaneously, and allow for sideline discussions. When transportation providers are trying to notify large numbers of passengers about delays, drivers about construction work, or bus riders about re-routes, they can “blast” messages through social media channels to reach their intended audience immediately (the audience accesses these networks far more frequently than the websites of their local transportation agencies). The goals of social media in transportation are to inform (alert riders of a situation), motivate (to opt for an alternate route), and engage (amplify the message to their friends and neighbors). Ideally, these actions would occur within minutes of an incident.
This report analyzes the use of social media tools by the New York region’s major transportation providers. It is focused on the effectiveness of their Twitter feeds, which were chosen for their immediacy and simplicity in messaging, and provided a common denominator for comparison between the various transportation providers considered, both public and private. Based on this analysis, recommendations are outlined for improving social media outreach. A subsequent report will propose policies and recommendations for enhanced information and engagement with users.
Augmented Reality is beginning to shift the landscape of urban exploration, making the experience ever-more informative, from language translation applications to cultural enrichment tools. It will lead people to be more informed, advertised to, and assisted on every urban excursion, removing the traditional happenstance from urban exploration. It is unclear whether Augmented Reality (AR) will truly enhance experiences, lead to over-saturation of information and advertising, or a combination of the two. This paper will discuss the current and near-future uses of AR for city dwellers and the projected implications of ubiquitous information.
Getting Started with Open Data is a guide for transportation agencies that would like to release their schedule data and administrative records to the public, and need an introduction to the practice. This guide is intended to result in streamlined use of transportation services and promote a productive dialogue between agencies and their constituents. It is being released as a living document, intended for input from both transportation data owners and users, to result in the most complete open transportation data guide possible.
Manhattan, a global center of finance, culture, fashion and media, harnesses a workforce of 2 million people. Regionally, Manhattan is the business hub for the New York metropolitan area, with commuters entering the city every morning from the other four boroughs, suburban counties in New Jersey, the Hudson Valley, western Connecticut, and Long Island, and distant locations, such as eastern Pennsylvania. The workforce of Manhattan is both growing and changing. There is a growing set of high-income, service-related occupations, and an increasing number of workers are residing in the outer boroughs or to the west, across the Hudson River in New Jersey. In fact, Manhattan now has 59,000 “super-commuters” who do not live within the metropolitan region. This report examines key trends in the residential location of Manhattan workers and will also discuss the travel, occupation, and income characteristics of Manhattan workers living in the surrounding metropolitan region. Finally, we explore the strength, resilience and vitality of Manhattan as a global economic and cultural hub in the 21st century.