The project will establish a multi-disciplinary research community to generate decadal-scale data-intensive research questions on how Big Data can be leveraged for Urban Informatics. Pervasive sensing, social media, location-aware technologies and vast numbers of sensors in the urban infrastructure will lead to massive amounts of Big Data on cities. Urban Informatics is the design and analysis of Big Data to create the next generation of tools and services for improved social science research on urban decision-making and citizen engagement. These tools will enable urban systems of the future to be designed, planned, managed and used more sustainably, efficiently and equitably.

The research community will be organized around creating an Urban Informatics e-Infrastructure (UIE) for social science research. The UIE will consist of three components--a Big Data resource, Urban Informatics Analysis Tools to enable social science research on urban systems and Emerging Technologies to facilitate the use of the e-infrastructure by researchers.

By interweaving these components from a multi-disciplinary perspective, data-intensive research on urban modeling, data mining and knowledge discovery to explore urban dynamics will be stimulated. Agent-Based Modeling, large-scale simulations and research on unique data management and multi-sensor sensor fusion that arises with urban Big Data will be encouraged. Innovations in urban sensing and new directions in community-based information generation will inspire questions on participatory urban planning and models of community engagement as well as on sustainable choices regarding transportation, urban ecology, green infrastructure, land development and water use.

The project will support two workshops on the topic. The overall goal of the workshops will be to present advances in such activities and to stimulate discussion on research and applications to be built using the e-infrastructure.

Project Report

The goal of this project is to plan, organize and hold two two-day workshops around the topic of Big Data and its application in urban and regional analysis. Urban and regional analysis encompasses a complex range of methods and tools and spans a broad range of areas including transportation, environment, health, land-use, housing, economy, labor markets, population demographics, ecology, energy and water usage. Research in these areas are wide ranging. The increasing availability data from a variety of urban sensors promises big changes in the way urban systems of the future can be designed, used, analyzed and understood. The workshops were organized with the intent of establishing a multi-disciplinary research community around these urban issues and the increasing availability and use of urban Big Data. The two workshops were held on the campus of the University of Illinois at Chicago in March 2013 and August 2014. The workshops brought together researchers from diverse disciplines motivated by sustainability and social equity concerns, the need for efficient resource management, and a desire to leverage technological developments that have the potential to provide solutions to urban concerns. The first workshop brought together twenty-one researchers and offered a collaborative environment in which discussions around a needs assessment were held for Big data and its potential use to solve pressing urban issues. These discussions led to the development of a call for papers for the second larger workshop that was held in August 2014. At the second workshop, sixty-eight research works were presented on a broad range of topics that combined both urban questions and the use of Big data. The workshop brought together about 150 people from 91 institutions spread in eleven countries in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Research papers were presented in the following twelve theme areas: Analytics of User-Generated Content (9 papers) Urban Plan-Making (4 papers) Changing Organizational and Educational Perspectives with Big and Open Urban Data (4 papers) Urban Knowledge Discovery- General (12 papers) Urban Knowledge Discovery – Transportation (8 papers) Urban Knowledge Discovery – Cities, Land Use, Energy (4 papers) Data behind Urban Big Data (5 papers) Health and Well-Being (5 papers) Urban Data Management (5 papers) Livability & Sustainability (4 papers) Insights into Social Equity (4 papers) Emergencies and Crisis Informatics (4 papers) All papers presented at the workshop are available freely at the workshop website The workshops have enabled greater knowledge exchange and feedback among researchers from diverse disciplines regarding the use of data-driven approaches for solving urban problems. Researchers presented different applications of data science methods for use on complex urban problems as well as commentaries on the potential and challenges of using Big data in urban contexts. In addition to the online conference proceedings, a selected set of papers will be published as part of a book titled 'Seeing Cities Through Big Data – Research, Methods and Applications in Urban Informatics' in the coming year. The publicly available proceedings as well as the planned book enable the discussions that started at the workshops to continue with a broader audience.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Behavioral and Cognitive Sciences (BCS)
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William Badecker
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University of Illinois at Chicago
United States
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