Civic News

Center for Urban Science and Progress: new NYU master’s program launches

The first 25 students to go through NYU's Center for Urban Science and Progress [CUSP] program located in downtown Brooklyn were welcomed by Mayor Bloomberg Tuesday.

Mayor Bloomberg Welcomes NYU’s Center for Urban Science & Progress Inaugural Graduate Class

The first 25 students to go through NYU’s Center for Urban Science and Progress [CUSP] program were welcomed by Mayor Bloomberg Tuesday.

The students will be earning an MS in Applied Urban Science and Informatics at the new center in downtown Brooklyn’s program. Today, the program is based on the 19th floor of One Metrotech. In five years, the plan is to move across the street, taking up approximately 150,000 square feet in the former MTA Headquarters.

Within a decade, CUSP expects to be a $70 million program, with 50 full time researchers (some from academia, some from industry), 100 Ph.D. candidates, 300 post-doctoral researchers and 400 master’s students. The master’s program takes one year.

In its overview [PDF], CUSP cites a wide array of potential data sources for research including:

  • Mobile phone towers
  • Redlight cameras
  • ATMs
  • Persistent remote sensing (cameras affixed to buildings) monitoring visible, infrared, hyperspectral and radar imagery

In a lengthy intro video, the founding director, Dr. Steven Koonin says that CUSP “stands at the confluence of big cities and big data.” He goes on to address the promise and perils of both, including addressing the question of inevitable privacy concerns.

CUSP hopes to innovate through a research model that brings together data experts of all kinds with the people with a hands on knowledge of urban transit, utility and health systems. Shown here in this graphic from the overview.

CUSP research model, Figure 8 from the CUSP overview

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In the video, Dr. Koonin promises leaders, “If you’re smart, big data can make you seem brilliant.” Also warning that ill advised applications can make a bad decision worse.

The center was launched in part from support by Applied Sciences NYC, which gave NYU $15 million in tax incentives to offset the cost of launching CUSP.

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