August 05, 2017
By Emily F. Keller
CUAC Summit Day 2 - Brainstorming Cross-Border Research Projects

The first Cascadia Urban Analytics Cooperative (CUAC) Summit took place at the University of British Columbia (UBC) July 13th and 14th, 2017. The first day of the summit consisted of mid-term presentations by Data Science for Social Good summer project teams from the University of Washington (UW) eScience Institute and the UBC Data Science Institute, as detailed in the blog post: CUAC Summit Day 1 - Data Science for Social Good Presentations.

The second day of the CUAC Summit consisted of lightning talks by faculty members and local agencies, followed by brainstorming sessions for projects to pursue in the coming year.

== Lightning Talks ==

Bill Howe, Director of UW Urbanalytics, explained the criteria for longer term CUAC research projects: topics of regional importance in which UW and UBC researchers can lead nationally; unexpected use of data and technology; and draws on the defining features of CUAC: two cities with shared political and geographic characteristics spanning an international border. Projects should be primary work for the lead researcher and have at least a six-month plan including data acquisition and an assessment of potential risks, incentives and unintended consequences. Jonathan Fink, Visiting Professor of Urban Analytics at UBC, discussed interest in finding collaborators to add Portland, Oregon to CUAC research in the Cascadia region.

Two speakers addressed regional transportation issues. Teresa O’Reilly, Manager of System Analytics at TransLink, discussed the transit agency’s analytics work covering a service area of 695 square miles; including smart card data launched in 2015 to track transit use and fare payments. Mark Hallenbeck, Director of the Washington State Transportation Center, discussed the UW Transportation Data Collaborative, a repository that will link public and private transportation data for use to improve route planning and coordination of services.

Professor Michael Brauer of the UBC School of Population and Public Health (SPPH) presented his research on designing healthy cities, such as route planning to reduce exposure to pollution, links between pregnancy outcomes and diseases like asthma and cardiovascular disease, the potential delivery of health care via autonomic vehicles or drones, and the use of universal health coverage billing data to draw inferences on health and disease.

Kim McGrail, Associate Professor in SPPH and Scientific Director of Population Data BC, talked about ethics, responsible data use and the value of producing reusable research results. “As we build these data sets, the ability to use them over and over is a key feature of what we should be doing,” she said.

Going beyond the Cascadia region, Gundula Proksch, Associate Professor in the UW Department of Architecture, discussed her urban planning research in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and her work as a project lead on the Equitable Futures project.

== Research Projects and Ideas ==

Breakout groups mixing faculty, local agencies, fellows and researchers yielded the following concepts for long-term projects:

Tracking Climate Change Targets: Visualization Platform: Create a visualization tool that tracks Seattle and Vancouver’s progress in meeting the goals and targets of their climate action plans and carbon reduction commitments as members of the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance. Partner with City agencies, climate-focused academic groups, urban planners and geographers. Track demographic differences to show social equity impacts, use cross-walking and map outcomes. Data sources can include buildings and UW/UBC campuses, City metrics (or method-based estimations), municipal water and electricity data from utilities, smart meter data.

Comparative Legal Review: Access to Data, Governance: To shed light on the processes around gaining access to data, conduct a legal review. Explore legal differences in Seattle and Vancouver related to privacy, civic jurisdiction, public or private ownership, potential for data repositories to improve access to data, interest in linking data across topics about subjects, given data access controls.

Impacts of Transit Corridor Development on Equity, Housing, Gentrification and Future Growth: Examine connections between transit, public health, population and housing trends through transit health analytics, environmental health imaging over time, and the use of predictive methods and modeling to demonstrate immediate opportunities for health benefits. Gather data through air quality and pedestrian sensors, traffic data, emissions per transit type, public engagement, and volunteers using sensors or breathing tests. Partner with City public health departments, local transit agencies, experts in visual storytelling, and researchers in urban design and planning, transit and public health.

Homelessness and Service Availability: Mapping, Comparative Analytics: Create a descriptive comparative project that looks at methods for assessing homelessness and how health systems create and support the homeless. Use surveys to map homelessness in both cities, and follow people longitudinally.

Emergency Services (Opioid Epidemic): Examine and map emergency service calls in relation to services for opioid use and mental health issues. Utilize emergency response data from the fire department, Medic One Foundation, and Seattle & King County Public Health Department.

Model for Connecting Jurisdictional Data Related to Social Determinants of Health: With public health and sociology researchers, gather data from public and private data resources: Population Data BC, the Centers for Disease Control, the Coroners Service of British Columbia, and health care service providers. Create a model connecting jurisdictional data related to social determinants of health, using the opioid epidemic as a case study. Examine differences in public versus private health data across the border. Develop strategies for inter-agency data sharing and interoperability.

Transportation Modeling: Best Practices and Standards: Create scalable best practices for transportation modeling in Surrey and Seattle that account for the variety of methods used to measure a commute.

Transportation Accessibility and Equity: To determine the relationship between transportation, population health and equity, collect data from a wide range of sources: health service providers, organizations that serve the homeless, population-level indicators, surveys and mobile health devices. Examine the transportation accessibility needs of vulnerable communities and populations, and links between mobility and gentrification. Examine the extent to which land-use plans are designed to support existing neighborhoods versus shaping future growth, and what happens to those neighborhoods after the development is completed. Data collection and analysis strategies:

  • establish protocols to merge and clean transportation data
  • collect microdata about vulnerable communities
  • examine the impact of physical infrastructure on service delivery
  • assess the potential impacts of new technologies on future equity and accessibility
  • use market segmentation and behavioral metrics to see which groups are underserved by current transportation

Data Science-Enabled “Bottom-Up” Understanding, e.g. Housing, Transportation, Jobs, Social, and Substance Abuse: Explore the paths along which processes take place that lead to outcomes of homelessness, drug use, employment, housing and transportation (availability, constraints and mode choice). Provide research to understand how processes drive decisions, activities and outcomes through a variety of domains in the context of urban analytics, including social and demographic factors.

Land Parcel Dataset: Partner with government agencies, indigenous communities, and real estate and land use associations such as the Urban Development Institute and the Urban Land Institute to create a land parcel data set showing real estate transactions and land use changes over time. Utilize data sets on property assessments, zoning, land titles and urban planning. The Integrated Public Use Microdata Series at the University of Minnesota Population Center provides a model. The resulting information may be applicable to CUAC transportation research.

International Housing Market Dataset: Supply-Oriented: Create a system to extract data on the rental housing market to see changes in neighborhood density, focus on housing supply instead of demand.

Data Consulting for Cities, Inventory, Needs Assessment: Work with city governments to enable a better understanding of data collection, availability and best practices; as well as legal issues and constraints around setting up repositories and data use policies. Begins by asking the questions: What data do they need? What would they do with that data if they had it? What data do they already have? What can they do with it? Can they use the data to better inform data processes?

== Get Involved ==

CUAC welcomes new projects. To provide background information about existing research that would benefit from connecting to the CUAC community, please complete a brief survey via the Urbanalytics website.