MORE TO EXPLORE: Cities

Evaluating the Economic Implications of Investment in New York City’s Subway System

Client
Returns on Investment in Transportation Infrastructure
Faculty
Aram Hur
Team
Bryant Feng, Timothy Hambidge, Miranda von Salis
Better public transportation is widely considered to have economic and social benefits. With federal transportation infrastructure spending in decline, local governments are forced to weigh the potential benefits of investment in transportation against politically unpopular increases in taxes and fees. What is the return on investment to transportation infrastructure, and more importantly, who does it benefit? A Capstone team conducted a systematic evaluation of the economic consequences of investment in New York City’s subway system by differentiating between levels of investment and type of economic benefit. The team compiled a detailed dataset of transportation and economic indicators by zip code tabulation areas and used a variety of statistical techniques—including matching analysis—to better isolate the effect of transportation improvement. Their findings have implications for how best to prioritize the investment of limited public funds available for transportation infrastructure.
Areas Of Impact

A New Planning Framework for Mexico City

Client
World Resources Institute Mexico and Mejor Ciudad
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Jordan Cosby, Natalia Garcia, Mariano Mórán
WRI Mexico is a country arm of World Resources Institute (WRI), a global research organization that works closely with leaders to sustain natural resources and human well-being. In collaboration with Mejor Ciudad, a Mexican NGO, WRI Mexico engaged a Capstone team to develop an urban planning framework for the new planning agency that will guide planning in Mexico City under the country’s new Constitution. The team devised a set of core principles for establishing norms and criteria to promote autonomous, transparent, effective, integrated, and sustainable development planning. The team substantiated and contextualized the principles with the results from interviews they conducted with civil society actors, architects, private developers, academics, and government agencies. The team prepared a final report detailing principles for the new legislature to support the creation of new planning framework, tools, and knowledge products. WRI Mexico will present the finalized principles to the new legislature and share the findings with community-based organizations to broaden awareness and promote public participation in local government decision-making processes.
Capstone Year

Evaluation of the World Bank Group’s Evolving Approach in Accra

Client
World Bank Independent Evaluation Group
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Thomas Kalogeropoulos, Fatima Kamran, Fatima Khan, Luiz Felipe Queiroz
The Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) is an arm of the World Bank that evaluates the organization’s project portfolio. The IEG is currently evaluating the World Bank’s Urban Resilience Operations, focusing on how the World Bank is helping its clients strengthen their coping, recovering, adapting, and transforming resilience mechanisms in the face of shocks and chronic stresses. IEG enlisted a Capstone team to assist in the preparation of inputs for the larger IEG evaluation. The team conducted a review of the 2016 Greater Ghana City Strength Report and the World Bank Accra Portfolio to serve as foundation to the research case study. The team visited Accra, Ghana, where they conducted interviews with government stakeholders and World Bank staff. The team’s research culminated in a case study on the World Bank’s evolving approach in the Greater Accra Metropolitan Area, which will inform IEG’s official evaluation.
Capstone Year

The Interplay Between Low-Income Housing and Air Pollution in Urban india

Client
World Bank
Faculty
Natasha Iskander
Team
Sasha Massey, Whitley Richards, Melissa Serrano, Jingyi Wu
The World Bank, an international financial institution, aims to end extreme poverty and foster income growth by providing financial assistance and support to various countries. The World Bank’s New Delhi office engaged a Capstone team to investigate the relationship between air pollution and affordable housing construction in India. Air pollution in India’s urban areas has reached emergency levels with thick fog reducing visibility and posing adverse health effects. The team focused on analyzing the construction methodologies used for low-income housing and the correlation between the construction of affordable housing and air pollution. The team evaluated existing research to uncover relevant stakeholders, standard affordable housing approaches, best practices from other countries, and steps that can minimize future air pollution caused by construction. The team provided World Bank with a report detailing an innovative and eco-friendly brick development methodology and policy recommendations to promote affordable housing approaches that will minimize carbon dioxide emissions.
Capstone Year

Enhancing Holistic Road Safety in Tanzania

Client
World Bank - Africa Region Urban and Risk Management
Faculty
Paul Smoke
Team
Rachel Gichinga, Elizabeth James, Lisanne Pueschel
The World Bank is a global financial institution that issues loans to countries for development programs. The Tanzania Strategic Cities Project (TSCP) of the World Bank aims to improve the access and quality of basic urban services by financing investments in the urban infrastructure of the country’s secondary cities. The World Bank engaged a Capstone team to complement implementation support of the TSCP by assessing holistic road safety and public space networks in selected project cities. The team’s fieldwork in Arusha and Dodoma included interviewing stakeholders—including government staff, nonprofits, and community members—and visiting local parks, roads, and schools. The team also researched the primary and secondary dimensions of road safety, best practices, and case studies related to pedestrian-friendly urban design elements. Their research culminated in a final report recommending strategies and practices that enhance road safety and stakeholder engagement.
Capstone Year

Investigating the Implications of Establishing of a Community Land Trust

Client
We Stay/Nos Quedamos
Faculty
Alan Cohn
Team
Monica Flores, Joyce Li, Yixin Li, Karlo Ludwig, Stephan Petryczka
We Stay/Nos Quedamos (NQ), a New York-based nonprofit community development corporation, is committed to promoting healthy and sustainable growth. NQ is pursuing the establishment of a community land trust to address the lack of affordable housing in the South Bronx and create a more intentional and equitable community fabric in the area. NQ engaged a Capstone team to aid in the establishment of the land trust by assessing the formation’s logistical, legal, and societal implications. The team conducted a literature review of land trust formation legal and financial frameworks and completed a series of case studies from around the country. The team recommended which geographic clusters of vacant lots NQ should target for its initial affordable housing developments, how to form strategic external partnerships, and best practices in developing a governance structure for the prospective land trust.
Capstone Year

Exploring Bus Fragmentation in Queens

Client
TransitCenter
Faculty
Sarah Kaufman
Team
Michelle Forrest, Daniel Francis, Jennifer Kim, Makenna Olson, Firnalia Putri
TransitCenter is a New York-based national transit advocacy foundation. TransitCenter is at the forefront of bus advocacy across American cities, publishing bus report cards in New York and identifying key public transit deficiencies experienced by riders. TransitCenter engaged a Capstone team to assess and identify challenges to bus riders posed by the territorial division between the two subdivisions of the MTA that operate bus service in Queens: New York City Transit and Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) Bus. The team explored bus service fragmentation and the operations of the bus network throughout Queens as part of a broader network design analysis. The team also analyzed bus route data and evaluated potential revisions to decades-long transit corridors to address existing bus route service inadequacies and inconsistencies. The team provided recommendations to address gaps in service, key transfer points, and scheduling conflicts.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Enhancing the Connectivity of the Prospect Expressway

Client
Office of the Brooklyn Borough President
Faculty
Michael Keane
Team
Sebastian Coss, Brent Ginsberg, Caroline Peri, Eftihia Thomopoulos
The Prospect Expressway was originally constructed to link central Brooklyn with the Gowanus Expressway and the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. Despite its aim of enhancing connectivity, the expressway cut through a formerly cohesive community, isolating pedestrians traversing the adjacent neighborhoods of Windsor Terrace, Park Slope, and Sunset Park. The Office of the Brooklyn Borough President worked with the Capstone team to engage the community, local elected officials, city and state agencies, and subject matter experts to develop a roadmap to prioritize future investment along the corridor. The team assessed existing conditions, researched best practices for treatments of similar roadways, and analyzed outcomes from a community visioning workshop. The team presented a final report that incorporated conclusions based on their research and analyses, a summary of stakeholder engagement, and proposed recommendations on how to improve transportation along the corridor.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Assessing Capacity to Draw Tech Companies to the Bronx

Client
Office of the Bronx Borough President
Faculty
Michael Keane
Team
Chuxiong Zhong, Niki Kokkinos, John McNally, Cassandra O’Hearn, Paolo Turchioe
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. occupies an independently elected countywide office that monitors the administration of City services in the Bronx and engages in strategic planning for economic development of the borough. The Office of the Bronx Borough President enlisted a Capstone team to research capacity for accelerating the growth of the technology sector in the Bronx. The team developed and executed a survey of area residents and employees and conducted interviews with representatives of local government, economic development organizations, technology firms, and educational institutions. The team incorporated this feedback into a final report that examines opportunities to leverage existing assets and articulates a plan for fostering an environment that appeals to tech firms looking to commence or expand their operations.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Developing a Model of Adaptive Reuse in Jackson, Mississippi

Client
Mississippi Center for Justice
Faculty
Alan Cohn
Team
Shengdi Chen, Joanna Farley, Xin Ge, Emily Riquelme
The Mississippi Center for Justice (MCJ) is a nonprofit, public interest law firm that collaborates with communities to promote justice in the areas of housing, health, education, economic security, and disaster recovery. MCJ engaged a Capstone team in addressing issues surrounding "blighted" properties—vacant and abandoned properties that have a negative impact on the surrounding neighborhoods—in the Jackson and Mississippi Delta regions. The team conducted a literature review, case studies, and in-depth interviews with stakeholders to identify barriers and opportunities and establish a model that will mitigate the negative impact of blighted properties on communities, while simultaneously addressing the need in low- and middle-income housing areas. The team presented a set of strategies for overcoming barriers and maximizing opportunities for adaptive reuse and presented a final report containing recommendations for a structure and system that can guide MCJ’s efforts.
Capstone Year

Substantiating Car Platform Data Value in City Planning

Client
Dash Labs
Faculty
Sarah Kaufman
Team
Muhammad Daud, Rigel Jarabo, Ariel Kaputkin, Joanna Simon
Dash Labs, an NYC-based startup, publishes the Dash app, which connects to cars and makes driving smarter, safer, greener, and more affordable. With nearly 400,000 downloads since the app launched in 2014, the platform collects real-world data from drivers around the world. Aiming to demonstrate the value of their data in city planning, Dash Labs engaged a Capstone team in creating visualizations and policy recommendations based on vehicle usage data within the five boroughs of NYC. By overlaying the Dash Labs data with NYC open data, the team evaluated various Vision Zero projects, including the NYC campaign to reduce the default speed limit on city streets to 25 MPH. The team substantiated the value of Dash Labs’ data through their findings, demonstrating that real-time data can aid in prioritizing and evaluating the success of initiatives—such as pedestrian safety—and highlighted policy recommendations and approaches that cities can take to best utilize this data.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year

Measuring the Social Impact of Early- and Growth-Stage Firms

Client
Grand Central Tech
Faculty
Scott Taitel
Team
Alexis Herschkowitsch, Loulou Momoh, Zuowen Wei, Ziyan Zhao
Grand Central Tech (GCT) is an initiative funded by the NYC Economic Development Corporation that aims to support and advance companies addressing NYC’s most pressing urban challenges. GCT is considering incorporating social value consideration into its startup screening, valuation, and mentoring process. GCT enlisted a Capstone team to create an introductory tool for assessing early- and growth-stage social impact firms. The team researched existing forms of social impact measurement, conducted informal interviews with companies in the GCT portfolio, and developed and administered a survey of GCT companies to evaluate social impact potential. Based on the results, the team created a Social Impact Dashboard for GCT, accompanied by a comprehensive report about the state of social impact evaluation within the field.
Areas Of Impact
Capstone Year