Researchers working on the Urban Innovation Initiative study and build technology to help shape the future of urban environments. Expertise in design, hardware and software prototyping and deployment, electrical engineering, biology, chemistry and social and data science, is combined to target three application areas: climate change and related environmental effects on society; productivity and the economic health of cities; social equity and the health of people and their communities:
Environment: Car travel, air conditioning, and many other aspects of daily modern urban life, contribute to climate change. At the Urban Innovation Initiative, we strive to better measure, understand, and mitigate the impact of urban life on the environment. With Project Eclipse we are developing, deploying, and analyzing low cost air quality sensors for cities. We have also partnered with Azure to produce daily urban heat island indices for all major U.S. cities.
Economy: A productive city is one in which all citizens are engaged economically. To help understand our rapidly changing employment landscape, we use unique large scale datasets to characterize and compare regional differences in jobs and skill development (see interactive maps of job searches by sector: United States, Canada).
Community: Cities should be safe, healthy, and inclusive. In the public health domain, we are exploring ways to model and forecast respiratory illnesses at fine grained geographic scale using naturalistic data such as land cover from satellite imagery and search queries.
The Urban Innovation Initiative makes its research available through scholarly publication, through open source software and datasets, and through collaborations with universities, and with business and product teams at Microsoft.