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Wednesday, April 6 • 12:30pm - 1:05pm
Measuring and Addressing Social and Environmental Problems in Cities

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Donald Davis | Mining Yelp Reviews to Measure Segregation in New York City
Until they were dismantled in the mid-1960s, the segregationist Jim Crow laws in the southern United States severely limited social interactions among ethnic groups. Despite the Civil Rights Act and later reforms, the U.S. remains deeply segregated, even in northern cities like New York. While standard measures of segregation exist for residences, jobs, and schools, we currently have no way of measuring how segregated common public activities like going to restaurants is. By studying five years of Yelp reviews in New York City, my colleagues and I provide the first estimate of diversity in city restaurants. Early results suggest that dining patterns are also segregated, though not as markedly as in housing.

Xiaofan (Fred) Jiang  | Smart Systems for Monitoring Air Pollution and Personal Energy Use
Analyzing observations of the physical world can be a messy process. But the rise of sensors to measure air quality, ocean temperatures and any number of other changes is allowing us to study our environment and actions like never before. I will discuss two projects that use intelligent sensor systems to map the environment. In one, my colleagues and I combined inexpensive, custom-built Internet-connected sensors with cloud-based data analysis to measure and infer air-quality at city scales. In a second project, here at Columbia, my lab is combining building energy-use monitoring with location data to estimate an individual’s energy footprint to provide real-time feedback to cut energy use. 

Desmond Patton | Preventing Gang Violence through Social Media Analysis
Social media is often an extension of the street for gang-involved youth. They may taunt rival gang members, downplay shootings and brag about fights and drug deals. Sometimes the tough talk turns into real violence. To be able to intervene, social workers need to understand how likely a specific post on Twitter may lead to violence. To do so requires deciphering the coded language and culture of gang-involved youth. I have recently collaborated with social science researchers and data scientists to analyze Twitter posts by Chicago gang members. Our goal is to combine observations with natural language processing tools to detect and decode high-risk language. I will discuss our process and early results.

avatar for Andrew Smyth

Andrew Smyth

Professor of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, Columbia Engineering
Andrew Smyth is a professor of civil engineering and engineering mechanics at Columbia Engineering. He specializes in structural health monitoring, using sensor information to determine the condition of critical infrastructure. Smyth has been involved with the sensor instrumentation... Read More →

avatar for Donald Davis

Donald Davis

Ragnar Nurkse Professor of Economics and Department Chair, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Donald Davis has been a professor of economics at Columbia University since 1999. In 2001 he was appointed chairman of the Department of Economics at the University. Professor David's research interests include international trade, economic development in the open economy... Read More →
avatar for Xiaofan (Fred) Jiang

Xiaofan (Fred) Jiang

Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering, Columbia Engineering
Xiaofan (Fred) Jiang is an Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering Department at Columbia University. Fred received his B.Sc. (2004) and M.Sc. (2007) in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, and his Ph.D. (2010) in Computer Science, all from UC Berkeley. Before... Read More →
avatar for Desmond Patton

Desmond Patton

Assistant Professor of Social Work, School of Social Work
Dr. Desmond Upton Patton is an Assistant Professor at the Columbia School of Social Work and a Faculty Affiliate of the Social Intervention Group (SIG) and the Data Science Institute.  His research utilizes qualitative and computational data collection methods to examine how and... Read More →

Wednesday April 6, 2016 12:30pm - 1:05pm EDT
Roone Arledge Auditorium Lerner Hall, Columbia University 2920 Broadway, New York, NY 10040