Urban Futures – Summer Workshop

Urban Futures – Summer Workshop

About

The Microsoft Urban Futures Summer Workshop (July 28–30, 2020) was three intensive days of talks, discussion and planning for data driven urban transformation. With over 100 attendees, we built a research driven coalition of civic, academic and research leaders to envision what services could be built on top of data sets for improving the future of cities. Together we produced a series of white papers that present research and action plans for cities, academia, and industry, to conduct real world research and deployments.

Two hours each morning were devoted to research and technology talks from stakeholders representing Microsoft Research, top academic institutions, and civic leaders. The second half of each day was devoted to working groups writing the white papers focused on topics relevant to the future of cities, people, and the environment.

 

Program Committee members

Scott Counts, Microsoft Research
Gavin Jancke, Microsoft Research
Paul Johns, Microsoft Research
Kristin Lauter, Microsoft Research
Michael Mattmiller, Microsoft
Asta Roseway, Microsoft Research
Kenji Takeda, Microsoft Research
Roy Zimmermann, Microsoft Research

Microsoft’s Event Code of Conduct

Microsoft’s mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. This includes virtual events Microsoft hosts and participates in, where we seek to create a respectful, friendly, and inclusive experience for all participants. As such, we do not tolerate harassing or disrespectful behavior, messages, images, or interactions by any event participant, in any form, at any aspect of the program including business and social activities, regardless of location.

We do not tolerate any behavior that is degrading to any gender, race, sexual orientation or disability, or any behavior that would violate Microsoft’s Anti-Harassment and Anti-Discrimination Policy, Equal Employment Opportunity Policy, or Standards of Business Conduct. In short, the entire experience must meet our culture standards. We encourage everyone to assist in creating a welcoming and safe environment. Please report any concerns, harassing behavior, or suspicious or disruptive activity. Microsoft reserves the right to ask attendees to leave at any time at its sole discretion.

Agenda

Day 1 | July 28, 2020

Theme: Data Driven Urban Transformation

Time Session Speaker(s)
9:00 AM–9:10 AM Welcome: Introduction to the workshop | Video Kristin Lauter & Roy Zimmermann, Microsoft
9:10 AM–9:30 AM City Futures – Urban innovation at Microsoft | Video Scott Counts, Microsoft
9:30 AM–10:00 AM London’s digital twin for air quality and COVID-19 response | Video Paul Hodgson, City Data at Greater London Authority
10:00 AM–10:30 AM Transformative uses of data in cities | Video Luis Bettencourt, University of Chicago
10:30 AM–11:00 AM Urban transformation and COVID-19 | Video Bill Fulton, Rice University
11:00 AM–11:30 AM Creating a global network of smart cities: The global measurement and monitoring initiative | Video Tom Baer, Stanford University
11:30 AM–12:00 PM Lunch break
12:00 PM–1:30 PM Facilitated break out groups: Research plan development
1:30 PM–2:00 PM Group report back and intern posters Kristin Lauter, Alaysia Brown, & Adam Stewart, Microsoft
2:00 PM End of day 1

Day 2 | July 29, 2020

Theme: Sensors and Data

Time Session Speaker(s)
9:00 AM–9:30 AM Welcome: Urban Innovation at Microsoft and Project Eclipse | Video | Slides Scott Counts, Gavin Jancke, & Miriam Berhane Russom, Microsoft
9:30 AM–10:00 AM Quantifying urban scale CO2 reductions and related emissions changes during the COVID-19 Shelter in place | Video | Slides Ron Cohen, University of California, Berkeley
10:00 AM–10:30 AM How cities can become smarter: Sensors, edge computing, and the array of things | Video | Slides Charlie Catlett, Discovery Partners Institute, University of Illinois and Argonne National Laboratory
10:30 AM–11:00 AM Community air quality sensing: What we’ve learned from calibration and crowdsourcing studies | Video | Slides Edmund Seto, University of Washington
11:00 AM–11:30 AM Using campuses in the Cascadia Corridor to advance smart city innovation | Video | Slides Jon Fink, Portland State University
11:30 AM–12:00 PM Lunch break
12:00 PM–1:30 PM Facilitated break out groups: Research plan development
1:30 PM–2:00 PM Group report back and intern posters Scott Counts, Helen Fitzmaurice, & Pietro Vannucci, Microsoft
2:00 PM End of day 2

Day 3 | July 30, 2020

Theme: Policy and Social Impact

Time Session Speaker(s)
9:00 AM–9:30 AM Welcome: Future scenarios & AI for Earth – shaping urban development toward a sustainable future | Video | Slides Asta Roseway & Lucas Joppa, Microsoft
9:30 AM–10:00 AM Granular CO2 emissions for every U.S. city from the Vulcan and Hestia Projects Kevin Gurney, Northern Arizona University
10:00 AM–10:30 AM The role of collaboration in city innovation | Video | Slides Brenna Berman, CEO, City Tech Collaborative
10:30 AM–11:00 AM Towards an Integrated System for Urban Greenhouse Gas Monitoring and Assessment | Video | Slides Jocelyn Turnbull, University of Colorado
11:00 AM–11:30 AM Lunch break
11:30 AM–1:00 PM Facilitated break out groups: research plan development
1:00 PM–2:00 PM Group report back and intern posters Asta Roseway, Mikayla Buford, & Alex Cabral, Microsoft
2:00 PM End of workshop

Breakout Group Reports

Community Engagement on Environmental Issues

Popping into Focus: Community Engagement for Environmental Impact and Awareness
Madeleine I. G. Daepp, Helen Fitzmaurice, Shawn Janzen, Jaime Ponce, Asta Roseway, Juliana Felkner, Wende Copfer, Wilfred Pinfold, and Dev Niyogi

Post COVID-19 Cities

How Cities Can Become More Flexible in the Wake of COVID-19: Housing Case Study
Sravya Avasarala, Sifang Chen, Scott Counts, Jonathan Fink, Bill Fulton, Eric Gordon, John Harlow, Paul Hodgson, Yuan Lai, Walter Merida, Dan O’Brien, Kyle Shelton

Science of Air Quality

Why all cities should have “Clean Air as a City Service”
Alex Cabral, Ron Cohen, Varsha Gopalakrishnan, Vikram Iyer, Gavin Jancke, Craig Michie, Amy Mueller, Outi Nyman, Adam Stewart, Jocelyn Turnbull, Alexander Turner

Social Equity

On Achieving (Urban) Social Equity
Wendy Chisholm, Alaysia Brown, Daniel Aliaga, Mikayla Buford, Paul Johns, Kevin Miller, Sid Espinosa, Kim Lucas, Junfeng Jiao, Roy Zimmermann

Public Health

Democratizing Digital Solutions to Improve Public Health and Urban Air Quality
Edmund Seto, Miriam Berhane Russom, Michael Mattmiller, Vaishnavi Ranganathan, Kate Brown, Pietro Vannucci, Alex Mariakakis, Eric Basha, Shahana Khurshid

Future Research Collaboration

Future-looking research collaboration

The Microsoft Urban Futures Summer Workshop (July 28–30, 2020) was three intensive days of talks, discussion and planning for data driven urban transformation. With over 100 attendees, we built a research driven coalition of civic, academic and research leaders to envision what services could be built on top of data sets for improving the future of cities. Together we produced a series of white papers that present research and action plans for cities, academia, and industry, to conduct real world research and deployments.

Two hours each morning were devoted to research and technology talks from stakeholders representing Microsoft Research, top academic institutions, and civic leaders. The second half of each day was devoted to working groups writing the white papers focused on topics relevant to the future of cities, people, and the environment.

In addition to the white papers produced by workshop participants, several potential future-looking research collaboration ideas emerged from the workshop:

1. Clean air as a city service

Clean air is fundamental to human health and the environment and is an essential human right. Measuring Greenhouse Gases is crucial for fighting climate change.  Every city should have a service that makes air quality data available to residents, policy makers, and third parties. This project uses Project Eclipse (and other) hyperlocal air quality sensors to drive development of a service that will inform the public and guide policy decisions to more efficiently lead to clean air for all.

2. Piloting urban pop-up lab

Engaging the public with environmental data will be crucial to inducing positive climate change related behavior. This project pilots the concept of a pop-up “eco-lab”: a mobile (e.g., housed in a shipping container) lab experience that can be placed in communities where MSR is deploying its environmental sensing technologies. The goal is to make the technology and data understandable, relatable, and valuable to the people in the communities that ultimately should benefit.

3. Public health mobile app development for preventing asthma

Paired with air quality data from Project Eclipse, this project launches a mobile app for people to both check local air quality and report their respiratory status. Such a platform can be used formally for public health research, and less formally to build community and raise public awareness of the conditions and locations that most trigger respiratory health issues.

4. Can deep learning match current climate science modeling techniques for identifying pollution sources?

Brief description: Current climate science models for inverse modeling (tracing pollutants back to emission sources) require extremely computationally intensive models. With this project, we will assess the accuracy of deep learning models as an Azure-compatible and more computationally efficient approach.

5. Developing a housing health index for cities

Especially given the expected climate migration, meeting housing demand will be amongst the toughest challenges facing cities in the coming decades. This project aggregates disparate data (permit data, rent and mortgage rates, building codes, etc.) to build a multidimensional housing health index for a city. In addition to helping cities understand the state of their housing, the index can also be used for intelligent planning by allowing “what if” tweaking of model inputs.

6. Urban heat islands

Cities heat and retain heat, causing negative public health and global warming impacts, resulting in a “heat island” effect that is a major concern for many urban areas. This phenomena causes heat to be unevenly distributed around cities, and thus with this project we propose the use of hyperlocal heat sensors to identify “heat islets” where cities can allocate resources for localized cooling.

7. Air quality sensors improving on volatile organic compounds (VOCs)

VOCs, including those from trees, contribute to atmospheric pollution. In this project we will combine ground level gas measurements (via Project Eclipse) with VOC measurements, at different levels of urban development, from highly urban to forested to better understand how VOCs from these varying levels of human development mix with gases to contribute to pollution.

Microsoft will continue to collaborate with our external partners and evolve these ideas and research plans with an eye toward implementing them in the next year or so.

—Scott Counts, Kristin Lauter, and Asta Roseway

Microsoft Urban Innovation Initiative

Videos